"It's not getting what you want....but wanting what you got."
-Sheryl Crow, "Soak Up the Sun"
There are those who have bigger houses than mine, with sprawling yards and in-ground pools, hot tubs and fancy outdoor bars. There are those who have second homes near the beach. There are those who have perfect figures and perfectly white, straight teeth and perfect hair. They show all the perfection in their full-length mirror in their gigantic walk-in closet. There are those who have risen to the top of their career and are making oodles of money while looking like a supermodel and being adorably self-deprecating.
I see them all on Instagram. Or my Facebook feed. Or sometimes in person.
And it's so easy to get caught up in all the things I'm not. In all the things I don't have. In all the ways I don't measure up.
I see my children noticing how some of their friends have much bigger houses than ours, or have beautiful pools, or lights that change colors in their basement turned arcade. Or they see their friends taking trips to Disney and all inclusive resorts and beach houses.
The line from the Sheryl Crow song, "Soak Up The Sun" has been speaking to me: "It's not getting what you want but wanting what you got." The experts say that having a grateful attitude is important for mindset and happiness.What do I have? What is good and right in my life? What little joys can I appreciate?
There are so many.
Petting my puppy after his grooming and noticing how soft his fur is.
Sugar free caramel syrup in my decaf coffee
A swing in my backyard and noticing my hydrangeas are starting to bloom
My mom walking up to my door every morning to help me get the kids to school.
Laughing with my children
Watching Schitts Creeks with my husband and laughing together
A Voxer message from a friend
Being able to teach in person
Working with children every day
Reading to my children at night
The promise of summer
Of course, I haven't scratched the surface. There is so much to appreciate in what I already have, in who I already am. I want whatI've got and I'll keep soaking up the sun.
Today I taught a lesson to my students inspired by Poems Are Teachers by Amy Ludwig Vanderwater. We brainstormed a list of places that we've been that are special to us. On my list was my grandparent's house. Tonight I tried to write a model to share with my students. This is what I came up with:
The House on Dianne Street
the house on Dianne Street
second from the corner.
and the rocking chairs
my Grandy's garden
his rose garden
on the side of the house
and the rose that bloomed
the year he died.
where we had
bubbly grilled cheese
on summer afternoons.
the dining room
and cups of tea
with something Grandma baked
always a sweet treat.
the den upstairs
and watching tv
I remember the pull-out couch
and Saturday night sleepovers
and coming home
from dinner out.
leading to my grandparents' room.
the comfy chairs
near the window.
where I played
the only song
"Heart and Soul."
the smell of the closets.
I remember the fun.
I remember the laughs.
I remember the love.
So many visits to the house on Dianne Street,
my grandparent's house.
They aren't there now and so
I don't visit Dianne Street anymore
but that house
second form the corner
permanently lives in my heart.
"She threw it out," my student tells me. It is the end of the day- dismissal time- and many of the students have already left. A few students remain with me in the classroom. My student- I'll call her M.- is telling me about a gift she gave her teacher last year, in another school, in another state.
"I did chores at home to earn $5 to buy her a teddy bear. But then she threw it out," M says.
The other students and I can't imagine a teacher throwing out a teddy bear given as a present.
"Maybe she didn't mean to throw it out- like she did it on accident?" a boy suggests.
M. shakes her head. "No she knew she threw it out."
I am flabbergasted at this teacher's actions. M. did chores to earn the money to buy a teddy bear, only to watch her teacher throw it in the garbage can? Of all the cruel behaviors of teachers, that might be the worst I've personally heard.
On my worst teaching day, I've never thrown out a child's present, bought with the money they earned, in front of them.
I guess that's something.
Looks like we made it! Congratulations to everyone who has taken on this true challenge to blog and share for 31 days.
The last day always reminds me of the last day of camp or school. Goodbyes in the air and promises to keep in touch. The end of a chapter and the start of a new one.
Personally, the challenge WAS challenging for me this year. The start of March collides with a few thingsI coordinate and made the first few days stressful. Early in the month I received some news that was upsetting but nothing I could blog about which also was hard. Navigating that while preparing for my daughter's birthday, then completing report cards all made the month a difficult one for for me for my best writing and sharing. I did not get to read so many posts I wanted to.. I plan to circle back and try to comment more even when the challenge ends.
For the first time in 6 years, I missed two days of blogging this month. But instead of focusing on that failure, I will celebrate writing for 29 days in a hard season. Life isn't perfect and I'm not perfect. I did my best and for that I am proud. I'm hopeful next year I can write more eloquently and visit more blogs to read and comment.
I hope you are proud of your collection of writing, for showing up on the hard days or coming back in if you couldn't show up. I hope you found community here and friends. I hope you come back on Tuesdays- weekly blogging is cake after daily blogging!
I also hope you find rest and new hobbies and time to explore something new now that our monthly writing challenge comes to an end.
Until next time....
I was down before I knew what happened. The leash slipped from my hand. Teddy started running.
"Grab the leash Alex!" I shouted at my son who turned to see my down on the ground and Teddy running.
Thankfully, thankfully he caught the leash moments before Teddy darted into the street.
Raised sidewalk, I suppose, was to blame. My hands and knees were scraped but otherwise I was fine.
It has not been my day.
The day began with a stomach bug with sharp cramps and I'll spare you the rest. When you are the mom, you can't really take much time to not feel well. So as the bug subsided, I was up again, making lunch, driving to the barber shop, going shopping for Easter clothes and prizes for Brownie Bingo, making dinner, walking the puppy.....
I'm feeling the need to call it a night and hope tomorrow is a better one.
Last week, my puppy Teddy Graham had some tummy troubles that resulted in a vet visit. Teddy is my first pet ever and I had gotten into the habit of giving him lots of people food. Chicken nuggets, cheerios, bacon, hamburger, cookies....a lot of people food. Turns out, this was very bad. The vet said the only thing I could give him besides his dog food is boiled chicken.
The problem is Teddy has gotten so used to eating people food that he constantly hounds us at meal times for something to eat. He puts his paws on my leg and looks at me with such a hopeful face, pink tongue out, tail wagging. It's so hard to turn him down.
Tonight' s solution? Have some of his boiled chicken near me and feed him that when he does his usual puppy eyes begging routine. He was happy, I was happy, and hopefully his tummy stays happy.
Dear Easter Decorations,
I know, by now, you would be proudly hanging in the windows, sitting on windowsills and otherwise making my house look festive and fun. After St. Patrick's Day, I planned to take you out and hang you up, but guys- this month has been crazy. Today my plan was to put you up and get a full week of Easter festivities in, but let me tell you why you are STILL sitting in the bins, undecorated.
My house was a disaster this morning and you really can't decorate a disaster. Too much clutter everywhere, needing to be cleared before I could put out the pastel eggs, bunnies and baskets. Then, the puppy needed breakfast and a walk. Soon after, I had to shower to get ready for my son's flag football game. My husband, son, daughter, puppy and mom all got to the crowded park and spent an hour watching my son's team try.....but ultimately lose. Not their day. Next, a consolatory trip to Carvel and then drop off my mom and the puppy (she's puppy-sitting this afternoon). After that, dear Easter decorations, it was quick lunch and change to get ready for a walk/run at our local park with friends.
We spent two beautiful hours at the park and got lots of steps in before my children were invited to keep the fun going at a friend's house. So it was drop off the kids, drop off a car, go to my mom's to get the puppy. Then get home, write a blog post and walk over to pick u the kids from play date. Convince the kids it was, indeed, time to go. Get home, order dinner, do some laundry, eat, go for a walk again with the puppy and the kids.
Now? I could start to put them up now but just made a cup of coffee and the houses is still, disaster-ish. Tomorrow, Easter decoration, tomorrow I will put you up. We still have a week to go until Easter!
Spring break is here.
March has been a march.....a long march towards this time of break. It's been an incredibly busy, emotional month. There are still to-do's to do, but I can breathe a bit easier now. We are days away from completing the March SOLSC.....I love this month and this time to write but I'm also eager for it to end. To have more free time and less stress about getting my blog post written and making sure I am reading and commenting. This is the first March I missed a couple of days and I think it just speaks to how challenging this month has been for me.
But cheers to Friday, cheers to the finish line getting closer and cheers to Spring Break!
Funny when report cards for your students and report cards for your children collide. I've just finished my second trimester report cards and my students will receive them on Friday. My children just had their report cards published and I reviewed them today. Tomorrow I will meet with their teachers via Google Meet to discuss their progress. Meanwhile, I've been calling my students' families this week to discuss their report cards and progress so far.
As a teacher, I'm mindful to say something positive always in the comments. I try to lean on the side of positive when I can for any indicator. I feel badly when a child receives all 1's and minuses and try to soften the blow with kind comments about positive things I notice and appreciate about the child.
Years ago, my son had difficulty with reading and writing, The report card had a lot of 2's (below grade level) in these areas. I can't tell you how delighted I was to see 4's down the columns for reading and writing! Exceeding grade level?! Back in second grade I remember meeting with his teacher and AIS provider. I said I didn't want him to be a "lifer" in AIS reading and wanted him to close the gap. I'm so proud of him for how far he's come through a rough few years to be doing so well academically.
Report cards are a challenge as a teacher, but I see as a parent how much they mean. It makes the work more important and I vow to help every child feel appreciated and valued. I hope to paint an honest picture for parents while also being hopeful and letting them know what we can work on.....together.
Kathleen Neagle Sokolowski