A-Z: Blogging Through April – D

Depleted – how I feel after getting rear-ended last night.  My car might be totaled, my neck and back hurt, and i’m just beat.  But D is also for Damned Good Family – who drove me around and helped in other ways today – and Friends, who have offered all sorts of advice and comfort and help.  And it is for Dropping Into Bed as soon as it becomes clear that the UConn women are on their way to another championship.

A-Z: Blogging Through April – C

C is for cell phones, those ubiquitous extensions to our upper appendages.  They are useful, helpful, important tools, but too often they become barriers to what is really important.  This is a letter I have been writing in my head since September, when I first started to notice the behavior it addresses.  I’m still wondering how to get it to the addressee; if you have any ideas, please let me know in the comments.

Dear Woman With the Cell Phone,

I see you two, maybe three mornings every week, getting breakfast for yourself and your middle school son at the local deli that makes such wonderful breakfast sandwiches.  No judgement there – they make my breakfast every work day.  There is no shame in not making a hot breakfast for yourself and your son, when such a yummy one can be had so easily elsewhere.

I see you sit at the table across from your young son – a seventh grader, I think, to judge by his size – with your face buried in your cell phone that sits on the table in front of you.  Your son would love to have some conversation with you, or at least some companionable silence as you both look around, watch people, wake up together.  But you don’t see him.  You’re in Facebook, or a text message, or some other alternate reality,  and it is clear to onlookers, and certainly to your son, that social media is more important to you in that moment than he is.  I am sad for both of you, because these years pass so quickly, and before long, he will be off to college, leaving you wondering where the time went, and why the years seem like such a blur.  The boy’s father could tell you, if you asked him.

I see him in the morning with your son every couple of weeks, and there’s no cell phone in sight.  There is conversation – sometimes animated, sometimes casual.  There is companionable silence as each looks around, watches people…wakes up in the comforting company of the other.  There is a closeness between father and son that is, to all appearances, missing in the mother-son relationship.

Lady, put your cell phone away.  Your son will only be this age for today, and he needs you to be present in his life – not just physically, but emotionally, too.  When I see you together, I get a sense of cold, of distance, of detachment.  I foresee a day in the future when you wonder why your son never calls, never visits, doesn’t seem to care, and if I am around for you to ask me, I will point your memory to the days, the months, when your cell phone came first.

It’s easy to blame the cell phone, but I don’t.

Sincerely,

A Caring Stranger.

A-Z: Blogging Through April – B

B is for Baseball, which returns tomorrow night!  We Mets fans were left just short of the holy grail at the end of last season, and as the season begins anew we look forward to getting back to the World Series and giving it another, more experienced, shot.  All of our pitchers are healthy and will throw without pitch counts; Yoennis Cespédes, against all the odds, returns to New York; and skipper Terry Collins gets the best chance in his life to get it done.  Last year, the World Series was a pipe dream that became reality.  This year, it’s an expectation.

That brings pressure, of course.  Daniel Murphy, who has been a mainstay all over the infield for the last several years, has moved on to division arch-nemisis Washington. David Wright’s spinal stenosis hasn’t gone away.  There are questions on the infield and in the pen.  But this is a core of guys who have now tasted it, and who want it – badly.  Their quest begins tomorrow night.

Let’s Go Mets!

A-Z: Blogging Through April – A

April.  Blogging April A-Z.  Nobody challenged me to do it, but a couple of friends are having a go, so I thought I would, too.  It’s always good to make myself write.  I tried to do the November blogging thing a couple of years ago, and while I got a few things written, without a focus I just didn’t have the wherewithal to see it through.  I am hoping that this time, the simple prompt of a letter a day will be enough to keep me going.  So with that in mind, and without further ado, I am pleased to present you with the following start to the month.

Abecedarian.  A remarkably cool word, and the perfect one with which to begin this April adventure.  I first encountered it about 20 years ago or so when I was doing a lot of counted cross stitching, and was designing some pieces to give as gifts.  I was looking for different alphabets to use, and came across a book that was full of them.  It was an Abecedary.  Said so right there on the cover.  I thought that was really cool – an abecedary.  A collection of alphabets, of course.  Looked it up and discovered that its broader meaning was anything that is of or for a beginner, and that the adjective form is abecedarian.  I don’t say the word out loud much in either form – I think there is a part of me that is loath to share it – but I do think it often in my inner conversation, and now I am writing it here for you.

You’re welcome. 😉

Friday Night the Way i Like It

Friday night, snowstorm coming, hockey team in action. Sleeping in tomorrow, enjoying a nice IPA tonight, and actively taking the relaxation that is sometimes elusive during the school year. What does that look like?

Tonight, it looks like me geeking out on the weather, in a weather nerd forum, with far geekier weather nerds than i…and me also geeking out in a Facebook thread about the hockey game, with fans from my side and theirs.

Knitting a row here and there on a new project, one that actually is for a real purpose that just makes greater the relaxation that knitting brings: a baby blanket for some soon-to-be-first-time-parent friends of mine. Knitting baby yarn on size sixes at home, and chunky #6 yarn on size nines at school. The baby work seems even more delicate in comparison.

And a very nice IPA.

I don’t say this often, because i so hate to brag…but tonight, i’m livin’ the dream.

Two course meal

And finally, after a day of just slogging through it, and not with anything like grace or elegance, home. The leftover quiche you’ve been looking forward to. The peace and quiet. The beverage that accompanies the meal.

And as you casually remove it from the oven, the half-quiche flips off the tray and into the gap between the bottom of the oven and the bottom of the oven door.

And…

…and…

And you sigh and shake your head, and acknowledge your own brilliance for planing a two course meal.

It’s all you can do.

Holiday Gifts for Teachers

Nobody ever asks teachers what we REALLY want come holiday time.  I don’t mean time off, peace on earth, ending poverty kinds of things – of course we want all that.  But as recipients of a multitude of holiday gifts, we sometimes find ourselves saying…really?  It almost feels wrong to write this post.  But i know that parents who give holiday gifts to teachers want those gifts to be meaningful.  With that in mind, here are some ideas for parents of school-aged kids.

1. Give to a charity in the teacher’s name.  This is kind of awesome.  It makes us feel good, and it does good in the world.  We like that.

2.  Likewise, give the gift of time to a local organization in need – a food pantry or kitchen, a nursing home, a homeless shelter or dog pound – again, in the teacher’s name.  Also awesome…also doing good in the world.

I get that many of you prefer to give us *something* – and we love gifts!  We definitely do!  Here are some thoughts.

3.  If you do family portrait holiday cards, please include us in the sending.  We treasure these.  And if you send us one every year, for as long as you remember, so much the better!!!

4.  Something homemade.  I have a wooden, hand-painted work-of-art Christmas plate made by one of my student’s moms from my second year of teaching.  I bring it out every year, remember the family fondly, use it…and love it.

5.  Something unique, perhaps seasonal.  I have a cute little chalkboard with a snowman on it that says, ” ___ days until Christmas!”  I added “vacation” at the end, and every year i take it out after Thanksgiving and count that sucker down!  Likewise, one year a student whose grandfather made fresh Christmas wreaths gifted each of his teachers with a gorgeous 48″ wreath.  I was so proud to hang that outside my door!

6.  A special, unique ornament.  I have many that add to my joy ever year.

7.  Amazon Gift Cards are an AWESOME choice if you are at a loss and just need to do a gift card.  Easy to get on-line, don’t need wrapping, any denomination…and hugely appreciated!  I frequently purchase goods on Amazon, and often for my classroom, so that gift card is also likely to end up being a gift for your child, too.  Alternately, if you know we love a certain restaurant, or go to the movies often, or enjoy live theatre, a gift card or certificate for an evening our would be wonderful!

8.  Something for our classroom.  Believe it or not, a bunch of fun pencils, a funky pen, or a cute or funny sign for our classroom wall is a great choice.

9.  A hand-written note from your child, telling us what they are enjoying about our class so far this year.  This is a treasure beyond words.

Of course we appreciate any thoughtful gesture you might make, and we love your child no matter what.  But the reality is we don’t really need 10 pounds of sweets.  We don’t need another mug or tea cup.  We might not share your taste in jewelry or scent.  And another gift card from Starbucks or Dunkin or some other food place, for many of us, is a waste of your money. It is in that spirit that I offer this list.  Happy Holiday of Your Choice!

Teachers – what are your favorite gifts to receive?