Happy Birthday to my best friend! The person I call everyday on my way home from work. The person I ask what to wear for big events and small. The person I learned from how to shop for bargains. The person whose opinion and advice I rely on most. The person that makes me smile. The person that knows me best. The person I call Mom!
I know I’m not the only one who thinks this but you are one of a kind. You have the biggest heart of anyone I know. You are the person everyone relies on. You are always helping someone. You are the backbone to our family. You are simply the best.
Thank you for always being there. Thank you for being my biggest supporter. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for allowing me to lean on you at anytime, for any reason. Thank you for dealing with my antics and indecisiveness. Thank you, Mom, for everything.
Happy Birthday, Mom! I hope this year is as amazing as you are!
“It’s 8:30,” I thought as I buried myself deeper under my covers. “Why do they have to do that every weekend?”
“Wee-oh wee-oh wee-oh! Beep!”
You see, I live across the street from a fire station in a small beach community. The community is very quaint and very friendly. Usually when the fire trucks are dispatched they even wait to turn their sirens and lights on until they get down the road a bit. I’m not usually disturbed by them. But each Saturday morning, around 8:30am the firemen go outside and test the horns. Why? Can’t they wait an hour?
“Wee-oh wee-oh wee-oh!”
There is no use trying to go back to sleep though. They are my Saturday morning alarm clock. Thanks firemen for making me start my day!
It’s been a crazy week. It’s finally Friday… a delayed opening, practice tests that need to be done, and things to finish up before the week ends.
“It’s time for writer’s workshop” I say. “Grab your red writing folders and head to the rug.”
“Nooooooooooo!” yell several students. “It’s Friday. It’s Joy Write Day. You promised.” I paused to think. How am I going to get out of this one?
“It’s one of your new years goals…do Joy Write on Fridays.” After a student said that I knew I couldn’t get out of it. Our realistic fiction pieces from our unit of study would have to wait. They were right. The class was holding me accountable.
I quickly came up with 4 choices for them… a picture to write from, a word of the day, objects from nature to sketch and write from, and the option to go back to a previous piece of writing in their notebooks.
School was buzzing throughout the day. Would there be school on Wednesday? Would it be an early dismissal? Were the weathermen actually going to be right this time? As I listened to this banter I poked around on Instagram and came across a teacher who had given her students a Snow Day Challenge. “Ooooh, that could be fun” I thought to myself. So at the end of the school day I told my 2nd graders to watch their email if we had no school the following day.
On Tuesday around 5:15pm my phone rang. It was from the Superintendent’s office canceling school for Wednesday. Off went the email to parents with the challenge: create something out of a box (any type of box) and send me a picture.
Wednesday was a typical snow day. I slept late, enjoy many cups of tea, blogged, made soup and read. I checked my email a bunch too but no one sent a picture of their Snow Day Challenge. I was bummed. What did my students do all day? Why had no one emailed a picture?
Finally, at 10pm (after hearing that we were having snow day day 2 on Thursday) a space shuttle arrived in my inbox. It was a great space shuttle too…ready for a trip to the moon. At noon the next day, a colorful dog house arrived. Followed by a sign and a hockey/mini golf game.
These pictures put a huge smile on my face. I cannot wait to be back at school to hear how they came up with their ideas. Who knows, maybe there will be more creative boxes coming my way too?!
Justin has always been a topic I have written about. Personal narratives in elementary school…check. A person that means a lot to me in middle school…check. My college essay…check, check, check. Since college though I haven’t written about him because on March 8th, 2007 my life changed. In my school years my stories about Justin were about silly things I liked to do with him, or how he influenced who I am as a person. While these are still very vivid memories for me, because he is no longer here, this story is different.
I graduated college in the spring of 2006 but still had to student teach so moved home and did that in the fall. In the spring I started grad school and started substitute teaching. On March 8th I was assigned to substitute at the elementary school I graduated from. The one what Justin never attended but the one where everyone knew him because of me. You see, Justin was multi-handicapped, he couldn’t walk or talk. Therefore, he attended different schools where they could support his learning needs.
On that day, I was on the computer late in the day while the class I was filling in for was at a special when the secretary called in to the classroom and asked me to come to the office. “Ut oh. What did I do?” I thought as I walked the minute down the hallway. My heart sank when I saw my Uncle Tommy and my sister standing there. My uncle calmly said “Justin isn’t doing well. Your parents asked me to get you and bring you to Yale.” I ran down the hall, grabbed my bag and left with barely saying a word to anyone. I was leaving them completely in the lurch but my brother was way more important.
We drove to Yale pretty much in silence and went right up to ICU. Brett was already there hugging my parents. My parents looked at Tori and I as we walked in with tears in their eyes. They explained to us that Justin’s body was too weak and couldn’t fight anymore. The rest of the evening is a blur. I remember several aunts and uncles coming in and out of the room. I remember us all praying together. I remember hugging my siblings and parents tightly, sobbing as my brother took his last breath.
I cannot describe the pain I felt. It was awful to lose someone. It was awful to see so many people around me grieving (especially my parents). It was just plain awful. But it was also impressive to see my family’s strength. From my dad saying an unforgettable eulogy to several family members and friends participating in the Penguin Plunge a few days later.
Justin had strength too. He fought until he couldn’t. Justin wouldn’t want us to feel so sad for so long. He would want us to use that strength. He would want us to take what we learned from him and teach it to others: To eat lasagna. To enjoy tiramisu. To watch basketball. To take naps. To cheer each other on. To belly laugh for no apparent reason. To spread kindness. And, most importantly, to understand others and their differences.
Revising is so hard for students in any genre. Poetry is no different. My team mates and I are trying to incorporate revising into this unit of study almost daily, to make it more routine. Throughout the unit we will share with them different revising strategies to try. One of these strategies is to try to write the poem to the tune of a song. I’m going to encourage my students to choose nursery rhymes and lullaby’s that we all know to try this.
So off I went. Yikes! So much harder than I expected. It took a long time too. Maybe it was the song I picked, maybe it was because I don’t think of myself as a poet or maybe I’m just being to hard on myself. Either way, here is my attempt at revising my poem to the tune of Are You Sleeping (Frère Jacques) Would love to hear your thoughts and/or suggestions.
Stapler (try #2)
Open, closed! Open, closed!
Seeing paper, seeing paper
clamping down and biting, clamping down and biting
The reading coach in my building, Erika, is a slicer too (Erika’s Blog). So this morning we decided to get together to check in with each other and of course slice.
My 2nd grade class is starting to learn about poetry. A big concept we are going to try with the class this year is revision work. One of the first lessons is to take an ordinary object and think about it with a poet’s eye. We decided to give this a try. Boy was it harder than I expected. We’ll see if I make it through revising it too.
Sundays to me have always been family days (even if there is no plan for them). Today was no different.
I expected to wake up and go the quarter mile down the road to church and do all the things I meant to do yesterday but instead decided to drive 20 minutes to go with my parents to church and then have breakfast with them. I also got to visit with my brother a little too. When chatting with Brett, my mom said that 5 of her 6 siblings were coming over this afternoon. “Ummm…what could you possibly need to catch up on? You talk to them each almost everyday…for a long time” Brett exclaimed.
It’s true. My family does talk to each other very often. Everyone knows what’s going on in everyone’s lives pretty much at all times, whether you like it or not. We are a unique family in that way. We are each others support system for basketball games, grieving, pep talks, advice, etc. We are who we each choose to spend Sundays with. Love is definitely all around.
Today reminded me (yet again) how lucky I am to have such an amazing, supportive, joyful, energetic, fun, close knit family.
It’s so hard to coordinate schedules. So when one of my Camp Trin college friends, Katie Cha, asked if I was free 2 days away I was thrilled I could say yes. There was no big plan just a “come into the city to hangout with Moe (another Trin girl) and I.” I immediately texted back yes and extended the invite to another friend, Jenna.
Then the nor’easter hit and Moe got stuck in Baltimore 😕. I was sad to hear that and bummed my weekend plans needed revision.
The change of plans still involved me riding a crowded MetroNorth train into the city…with a very rowdy group of college kids. All I heard on the train ride (which was in the middle of the afternoon) was beer cans opening, talk of who made out with who, one person shhhhhhing another because their story was better than someone else’s and booing of other colleges. Were we ever that rowdy and inconsiderate when we went places in college? When did I get to be so old that I was even thinking this? After all, they’re just having fun, doing what friends do.
Fast forward 8 hours…
I’m sitting on the train so I can be home, in my own bed when I wake up in the morning. I’ll be in bed by 12:15 😇.
It was a perfect day. Jenna couldn’t hang out the whole time but still wanted a Camp Trin reunion so Katie Cha and I went to her new apartment to hang for a while (gorgeous). Followed by a delicious “special occasion” place for dinner for Katie and I, a stop at a speakeasy (that we quickly left because of the noise and crowd) and ended the night at a quiet wine bar.
This train is much quieter tonight but still as crowded as this afternoon. It gives me time to think about how thankful I am that I have grown up and no longer feel the need to close bars down and therefore feel awful the next day. And how thankful I am that my Camp Trin girls and I don’t skip a beat, smile and laugh just as much as we did when we were in college. I also realized that we didn’t need to be rowdy for our day to be amazing.