Sunday, May 24, 2009


This weekend, I had several Very Important Things on my agenda. The first VIT to be accomplished was a visit to my sister's new Texan themed antique store. You may remember it from an earlier blog found here.
She has always wanted to sell vintage cowboy/cowgirl/cowkid items, and began her dream last August. Well, 9 months later she was so successful that she "gave birth" to a bigger store! Congratulations,
Renee! You can visit her at 505 West University Avenue in Georgetown, Texas.

And Sunday? Our anniversary! At this time, many years ago, we were on the balcony of a beautiful hotel in Honolulu overlooking Waikiki Beach beginning a honeymoon that included 10 of the most perfect days of our lives. This year's celebration? A little different. If you are in our everyday news loop, you may know that D has been in the hospital a few times during the last two weeks. We are awaiting the results of a biopsy on Tuesday that could cause a few differences in our lives. To say the least.

This we know for sure: God's ear is very near our mouths as we pour out our hearts before Him. And we will continue to behave as people who have seen the faithfulness of God. Because His grace, mercy and faithfulness is the most Very Important Thing in our lives.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Idol Chatter

Eight days of school left in my first grade room. Sometimes it feels like the inmates are running the asylum. To engage my 18 six-year-old best friends, I save my very best activities until the end of May. Today's centers? Pirates and Princesses. The lines were clearly drawn about who picked which center. (Hint: I have 9 boys and 9 girls. My portable classroom stayed bubble on plum with the distribution between erstwhile Jack Sparrows and Cinderellas.)

While two of the boys were creating a Treasure Map together, I listened to their conversation:

Boy 1: Did you watch American Idol last night?

Boy 2: What's that?

Boy 1: It's a show my Mom watches all the time where people sing. This one guy, he wore these huge shoes and had spikes all over his clothes. And then he said, "HEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRREEEEEEEES KISS!"

Boy 2: (Trying to keep up with a conversation he knew nothing about) What's Kiss?

Boy 1: Kiss! You know: KISS! They are these people who wear costumes and stick their tongues out.

Boy 2: (Not sure where this is going.) Oh.

Boy 1: You know: KISS! They have some songs on Guitar Hero. I only get to play one of the songs because my Mom says they are inappropriate until I am older. Like 8 or 9.

Boy 2: (Glad for an opening.) Well, I do know what Guitar Hero is. How does the song go?

Boy 1: (Begins playing air guitar and singing, atonally.) "Nananananananana!'

Boy 2: (Relieved to have some knowledge of the subject.) Oh, Yeah! I know that song.

Boy 1: Well: that's KISS!

At this point I could not resist breaking into the conversation. The mom in me just didn't want a six year old idolizing Kiss with all its smoke and mirror tricks.

Mrs. O: Hey! Did you know that under all that makeup the men in Kiss are older than I am?

(Stunned silence, while the wheels of their brains were turning and picturing this.)

Boy 1: Ewww!

Boy 2: (Suddenly on board.) Yeah. Ewww!

(OK: maybe that "Ewwww!'' was a little too enthusiastic as they probably think I'm as old as the dinosaurs.)

And then they went back to charting buried treasure on graph paper.

Congratulations, Kris Allen. Sometimes the good guys do win!

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Tipping Point

Yesterday, I stopped in a sandwich shop for a pannini to go. The counter help was high school-aged and probably working for minimum wage. I noted a tip jar with a hand-lettered sign.

I was reminded of all the friends I had in high school and college who worked for tips. And of my son who has his own sign on a tip jar at the coffeehouse he currently works for: "Tips supporting Costa Rica Summer Study Abroad". He says even students smile at the message and dig a little deeper for some extra change.

So, when the girl ran my debit card, I added a two dollar tip. She glanced at it and said,
"Wow. WOW! Thank you. THANK YOU!"

Then she asked if there was anything I needed or wanted while I was waiting for my order. I requested some water. She gave me a nice glass (not styrofoam like the the other customers' drinks) with lots of ice, slices of lemon and lime, and two straws. 

I was thinking: Wow. WOW! She is really grateful for $2. We forget sometimes that a few dollars seems like a lot of money to some people. I won't miss it, but she apparently has plans for it.

I wish I'd left $5.

Next time, I will.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

This month, I was honored to be chosen Teacher of the Year for my elementary campus. There was a big hoopla at the downtown Hilton for all the TOtheYs.

Many people have asked me if we got tangible awards.

Well, yes! I got a nice printed certificate and a reserved space in the teacher's parking lot.

I'm pretty sure that's what the people at Enron got as bonuses. Right?

I really don't know how to take this award. I know that soon my certificate will find itself at the bottom of a pile of paperwork, and the parking space will turn over to someone else.

But the award that keeps giving? Motherhood.

The early Mother's Days brought me hugs and sticky kisses, which were later replaced by drawings and homemade cards. I still have them all.

And now those children? All adults; all scattered across the country. Got to have lunch with The Boy and his girlfriend yesterday. He will turn 22 in Costa Rica this summer during his Study Abroad trip. Got two great calls from The Married Daughter in Missouri.

The best gift? Seeing those adult children heading off for their futures with hope in their hearts. Surely that trumps the combination of certificate/parking space. In spades.

And I close with my favorite lines from my favorite read-aloud book, (read endless times to my now-adult children) "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch.

"I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My babies you'll be."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

School's Out For 19 days

As I write this, there are 19 days of school left. As my students' mothers drop their darlings off each morning, they pat my shoulder in sympathy and solidarity.

And then they run.

Just kidding. Actually, they skip quickly. Away from my room toward their last 19 childless days before Summer Vacation. Because the children will be on their side of the classroom door until late August.

What is life like in a first grade classroom in the waning days of the school year? Well, here are a few of my observations gathered over 20 years in the trenches of May.

*Even six year-olds know May signals the end of school. It's my fault. I taught them the months of the year. Next year I'm thinking about introducing a new "extra" month after April. By the time they realize it's fake, school will be out and the craziness will have been avoided. In my dreams.

*This time of year brings on a phenomenon known in the teaching profession as "pillbugging". You look on the floor and a child or ten is spinning on their heads. Literally. If you call their names and break the spell, they stare blankly at you. I think it must be an out-of-body experience. Needless to say, listening is not at an optimal level.

*Any rule that is broken now has been a rule for 156 days. We count the days in my room. Daily. So, when a rule like "We don't jump off the top of the jungle gym" is broken, the offender has heard it about, oh, 156 times. In his defense, maybe the information fell out of his brain while he was pillbugging.

*There is talk every year at this time about May salaries becoming "Hazardous Duty" pay. You know: like in the military when the troops are sent to the front lines. More May, more pay.

*I have a little game I like to play in May. I look in any direction and shake my head "no". At least five kids will stop the rule-breaking thing they are doing. This is especially fun in crowded school assemblies. You can stop 20 kids with each shake of the head.

*Recess seems to get a little longer each day. In spite of the Texas heat that is already at a record high. I'm thinking of opening a lemonaid stand under that big tree. I think it would stretch out recess a wee bit longer if I keep them hydrated.

*The question I am asked most often these days is, "Do we HAVE to (fill in the blank)?" I have learned to tilt my head, put on my most winning smile and say, "No, you lucky duck! You GET to (fill in the blank)!!!" They stare at me blankly, and return to pillbugging.

19 more days. Full of assemblies, cleaning out, taking down, sending home.

One thing I know for sure? In August, I'll be counting down the days until they are back.