Everything Is Better With A Little Flair

What color am I in the mood to write with today?  Coral or teal? 

Hmmm. Coral. I am definitely in a coral kind of mood so I grab the orange-pink Paper Mate Flair pen from my pen bag and begin to write.  My eyes marvel at the way the color absorbs into the paper with just the right amount of diffusion.  Not so thin that it is hard to read, but not so thick that it bleeds.  I take my time as I write, enjoying the way the cheerful color contrasts with the stark white paper.  Each letter closely resembles the writing I use when I am teaching my students how to properly form them.  I pause to admire my penmanship.

This feeling never happens when I use a ballpoint pen.  My writing with a plain, old pen resembles a mixture of partially formed cursive and print letters that only I am able to read.  This is the exact reason that I use a ballpoint pen when I am writing sticky notes after conferencing with a student.  I want to keep what is discussed un-decodable to their phonetic eyes.  I can’t do that with a Flair pen.  That would be disrespectful.

My headings are done and it is now time to list the lessons under each subject.  Decision time.  Should I choose a complementary color such as yellow or go bold and pick up the teal pen that I dismissed only minutes earlier?

Or, I could also switch to using a gel pen.  There is a similar array of colors available in that bag too.  But, I don’t feel like chancing the fact that I may get wet gel ink on the side of my pinky and a big smear on my paper, so I push that bag aside.

Back to my Flair bag I go and take out the neglected teal Flair pen.  I carefully craft the learning  targets for Monday. Wow.  It’s looks beautiful.

Decision time again.  Should I switch to a different color for Tuesday?  Well, I have the 24 pack, so why stick with just two colors when I can use more?  I take out a vibrant pink Flair and begin to write.

My plan book begins to resemble the Lilly Pulitzer storefront in Key West. I smile.

Yes, it is the little things that make planning on a Sunday slightly more tolerable.  Flair pens are definitely one of them!

What do you use to motivate yourself to do something when you would rather be doing anything else?


March 13, 2020: Ten Reasons Why I Wish I Could Go Back

This morning started off almost like any other school day.  The only exception for my students was the last minute cancellation of our field trip.  Disappointed that we could not go, but determined to continue with the unit, I planned a different lesson for Social Studies.

All of the staff were buzzing around asking each other if we thought that school would be cancelled next week because of “the virus.”  

My reply was adamant. “No. We keep the sick people at home, not the healthy ones. School will not close.”  

There is the reason why I am a teacher and not an epidemiologist.

Story time with chad - Imgflip

Then the emails began to come in.  Questions about student internet access at home were among the first. Rumors began to swirl that we would be closed for the next two weeks to students, but that staff would still need to report on Monday.  Much to my surprise, I left my classroom on that Friday afternoon and did not return until it was time to pack up for the summer.  

But if I could go back in time, these are the things I wished that I had appreciated more on that fateful day.

Top Ten Things That I Miss About March 13, 2020.

  1. Read Alouds- I miss having the children directly in front of me on the rug as I read to them.  I miss holding a book in my hands, above my shoulder, a skill that every teacher has mastered so gracefully. I miss having the students approach me to get a closer look at the pictures.  I miss redirecting the children who tickle each other instead of paying attention to the book.
  2. Sharing- In Kindergarten, sharing was one of the Golden Rules.  We shared school supplies, toys and materials with an unselfish attitude.  There was no mine.  Everything was ours.
  3. Partner Work- I miss the intimacy of two students working and learning from each other, without a pool noodle extended between them.
  4. Tables- I miss my tables.  I miss pulling a chair up to a table and conversing with the group about what they are working on or doing a small group lesson.
  5. Recess Playground Equipment- It bothers me greatly when my students go outside and have to stare at an enticing playground structure and basketball hoops, but are unable to use either. There is only so much fun in walking around and playing imaginary tag!
  6. Cooperative Activities: Blocks and STEAM Projects-  Upon arrival, my students have an opportunity to participate in some free choice time, while others eat breakfast.  I miss taking out my tub of wooden blocks and watching my students work together to engineer a structure.  I miss them asking me to take their picture in front of the completed design before they have to knock it down.
  7. Holding Hands- I miss holding hands with my students as we head to the nurse with a scraped knee or return inside from recess.  I miss watching my students hold hands as they go to the bathroom or play a game together.
  8. Centers- I miss my Math and Literacy center time when the children played games with shared manipulatives.  I miss the independence and interdependence that developed during these activities.
  9. Volunteers-  I miss my classroom volunteers!  My amazing mother was in my classroom two mornings a week reading with my students and helping out wherever help was needed.  I miss having parents come in to assist with center games, special projects and celebrations. 
  10. Hugs- I miss the completely unsolicited hugs that I received from my loving students when they entered and left my classroom each day.  I am sorry, but an “air hug” is not the same.

What do you miss the most from March 13, 2020?

When Did I Become the Old Teacher?

I've been a sub, aide, and teacher! Over 20 years experience with most in  the classroom as a teacher...this i… | Bored teachers, Teacher humor, Teacher  memes funny
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When I began teaching last century, I was in the age minority. One of only a few new hires at the time, I found unlikely friendships with people ten to twenty years my senior. While in my late twenties,  I regularly celebrated milestone birthdays such as 40 and 50. My work friends and I acknowledged the last day of school with wine and cheese in the privacy of a home.  When they spoke of their children’s high school sports or college search, I shared about my pregnancies and potty training.

As the years went by, one by one, they began to retire. Each retirement resulted with a new, young teacher taking his/her place.  In a natural progression, my role slowly evolved from mentee to mentor. I happen to have a few more years of experience is how I viewed it the first few times.  Of course I would be happy to help a new teacher.

As the years went by, the newer teachers got younger and I just got older.  

I think the first time it hit me was about two years ago when I was a mentor to a new hire in her twenties. I asked my mentee how she was doing and how I could best assist her.  Her fond reply included something to the effect that she valued my support and that I was a mother figure to her. A true compliment by any measure, but really… A  MOTHER FIGURE? That sounded so old! 

But the real icing on the cake was just the other day.  My newest mentee, also in her twenties, cheerfully joined me for lunch.  As she walked in, she asked me if I used to teach in the town she grew up in.  I enthusiastically replied that I did before I came to the town where I currently teach.  

Then BAM, she hit me with the right hook.  

“I think you were my best friend’s Preschool teacher!” she exclaimed.  

If that wasn’t bad enough,  she managed to pull up a picture of me (with very large hair) and her best friend (about 4 years old at the time) on her phone.  It seems that her best friend recognized me from a Facebook post and the connection was made. There was no denying it was me.  I have the same class picture in a photo album from the mid 1990s. 

Now, I suppose I should feel somewhat flattered that she was able to remember me after all of these years, but that thought escaped me at the time.  I just focused on the fact that I am old enough to be the former Preschool teacher of a colleague!  

Now, someone please answer me this…when did I become the old teacher? On second thought, please don’t!

Sunday Afternoon Car Ride

“Everybody hop in,” my Dad states as he unlocks the doors of our rust colored Caprice Classic Station Wagon.

“Do you think Grandpa would want to sit in the way back with me this time,” questions my brother. 

We all begin to smirk as we envision our grandfather, in his late sixties, sitting in the rear-facing third seat.  

“You can ask him,” my mother replies.

But, we all assume that he will definitely respond with a “Hell No!”

As my father pulls up to my grandfather’s split entry house on the top of the hill, we can see that Grandpa is ready and waiting for us.  He walks towards our car with a spring in his step.  Since my grandmother passed away a few years earlier, our Sunday car rides are something he looks forward to and today is no different.  

“Grandpa, do you want to ride in the back with me?” my brother asks.

We all hold our breath awaiting his reply.

“Sure,” he says.  

He climbs right in and positions himself on the seat next to my brother.  My mother asks if he is comfortable.  He is either a good liar or he really is fine, because he tells her that he is. He and my brother face backwards, looking at all that is now behind us.

“Where would you like to go today?” my father inquires.  

“Do you know any routes that will take us by an ice cream stand?  My treat!”  Grandpa replies.

While I do not recall the exact route we travelled that day, I do remember going to visit my grandmother’s grave at the cemetery.  I also remember my brother teaching my grandfather how to get a trucker to honk his horn as the eighteen wheeler passed by us on the highway. And of course, I recall stopping for ice cream on the way home.

My grandfather passed away 23 years ago today.  I can still recall him riding in the back of our family station wagon as if it were yesterday and not 40 years ago.  

Sometimes in life, it is the simplest memories that last the longest. 

What is one fond memory that you have of your grandparents?

COVID Vaccine- The Musical

I would like to thank fellow Slicer, Suzanne for her inspiration for this post. Your comment the other day really got my creative juices flowing.

My husband says that there is a song for every occasion.  He has been know to quip lyrics right in the middle of a conversation.  Sometimes I find it to be funny.  Other times, I am annoyed.  I guess it all depends on my mood at the current time.

But today, I am getting my second dose of my vaccine and I wake up with a song in my head.  I jump out of the bed and start to sing “Vaccine, Vaccine, VACCINE, Vaccine…”

Am I on  Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist?

On my way to work the sun is shining. I am thinking, “Oh, what a beautiful morning. Oh, what a beautiful day. I’ve got a beautiful feeling. Everything’s going my way…”

At 9:55 my husband is on his way to pick me up for our appointments.  Afraid we are going to be late, I start to walk up the school driveway to meet him on the street. “Hold on, I’m coming…”

On the drive to the clinic, I think about the excitement and nerves that are brewing inside of me.  “Anticipation is making me wait…”

We arrive at the appointment and I sit down in the chair.  I am prepped and my second dose is administered. It is as if invisible streamers and balloons float down from the ceiling.  “Celebrate good times, come on!”

We are sitting in the observation room. I look down at my vaccine card. “I’ve Got A Golden Ticket…”

As my husband and I exit our appointment, I take him by the elbow and quietly begin to sing “Zip A Dee Doo Dah, my, oh my, what a wonderful day!”

My husband seems rather annoyed by my singing in the parking lot. I guess it is only fun for him if he is the one singing!

Have you had your vaccine yet? Do you find yourself randomly getting a song stuck in your head related to what you are experiencing? Do you secretly wish that you worked with Zoey at SPARQPOINT too?

I Am From…

Anne-Marie Heckt: I Am From - idelette

I am from pizza

From Comet and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese

I am from the Carlton Street home

Cozy, tidy, feeling of love

I am from marigolds,

Golden, growing in a circular flower garden

I am from family room blanket picnics and faulty gallbladders

From Dick and Kris

I am from the altruistic and the compassionate

From “Kiss your aunts” and “I am having a great time with people I love”

I am from summer family cookouts and road trips

I am from Hudson,

Chocolate chip cookies and mocha chip ice cream

From the vacations in York Beach, 

Laughter, “drink of the day”, quality time together

Sunday car rides in the back of the station wagon

And walks on wooded trails with our dogs

I am from these moments

Loved, nurtured and shaped by my parents

Treasured memories captured and stored within my heart

The Phone Call

I am sitting down to write my “Monday Slice”.  A warm cup of tea serves as motivation. I am tired tonight and not sure how easy it will be for me to write. I look at my list of ideas and one jumps out.  Yes, I can tell this story with a touch of humor, while still keeping it real. I begin to write.

As I put my thoughts down, my phone begins to ring.  I am just getting in a writing groove, so I am tempted to hit the ignore button.  I can call her back later, I think.  But it is 8:30pm.  Will I really call her back tonight?  And, is everything okay?  She rarely calls me at this time. Something inside me tells me to answer the call.

Relief enters her voice as I say, “Hello.”  I ask her how she is doing and she says not well.  

My tea begins to cool as I listened to her share her worries.  My creative energy shifts to empathy. I have had days when I have needed someone to talk with too.  I share that I have also felt overwhelmed at times. I help her to see some positives in her troubling situation and give her a few ideas to help distract her mind from what worries her. I tell her a funny story.

We hang up with a laugh and I tell her that I will talk to her soon.  

I am no longer feeling the story that I initially began to write so I hit “save”.  Maybe tomorrow I will be in the mood to be creatively funny again.  

Today, I will write about what made me change my mind.

21 Listening Quotes ideas | quotes, listening quotes, words of wisdom

Have you ever had your plans interupted because someone else needed you?

Sights From the Sidewalk

Every Kindergarten teacher knows that a single knot does not suffice, so I bend down to tie my shoelaces in a double knot. I inspect the thermometer outside. Definitely a hats and mittens day, so I put on a matching set and don my recess jacket. I check to make sure that I have a mask and plenty of poop bags.  With my dog’s coat (yes, my dog has a winter jacket!) and harness securely fastened, I attach her leash and head out the door with my husband by my side.

Ask.com | Kindergarten poems, March kindergarten, March themes

It is a brisk day.  The wind is blowing sharply are we make our way up our first incline.  March came in like a lion, I think. We put our heads down to avoid greeting Mother Nature’s breath full on.  We begin to notice the sporadic litter that seems especially out of place in our residential neighborhood.  We comment to each other as if we were engaged in a game of I Spy.  

“Look, another empty nip bottle,” one of us remarks.  

“Why do people clean up after their dog and then leave the bag behind?” the other one questions. 

Our dog begins to bark as she notices a Black Lab mix ahead.  We talk to her as if she were our four-year old child and not our pet. 

“Oh, Sadie.  That’s just Shadow.  He’s your friend.” 

I comment that social distancing and lack of playdates has affected her.  My husband politely agrees.

We read the signs that decorate our neighbors’ yards.  We glimpse only one sign from a realtor, but there are many campaign related. These are the ones that we are used to seeing as candidates prepare for upcoming elections.  Others are personal statements of political beliefs or acknowledgements of milestone achievements.  Still others show support for frontline workers or local businesses.  I  mention that the pandemic has brought new ways to communicate with each other and lawn signs seems to be one of them. 

Political Lawn Signs - Fart.com

Some of our neighbors still have the outside of their homes decorated for Christmas and a few still have their tree up. Of course, this warrants a comment from one of us. 

“I wonder when they will take it down,” one of us states. 

We could really care less, but it seems like the right thing to say at the time.

I check my Fitbit and announce my step count to my husband.  He checks his and reports back to me.  I poke fun at him because my count is higher.  He retorts by saying it is because I take smaller steps.  We both laugh, but secretly I am happy to be beating him! 

We see children playing in a yard.  There is laughter as they run around in their snow gear. Children spend much too much time in front of a screen, I ponder. Seeing kids outside makes me happy.  I silently praise their parents.

We notice a dumpster and pickup truck with a construction company’s logo on the door parked in a driveway.  They must be getting work done to their home, we infer.  

As we approach the last hill before we return home, a car slows down next to us.  We chat briefly and wish each other a good day.  But the wish is unnecessary because I have already concluded that I had a great day today.

I Had A Great Day! Jumbo Stickers

What are some of the things you notice as you take a walk?  Have you noticed more signs in the yards in your area? Does it bring you joy to watch children playing outside? Do you treat your dog like your child too?

March 6, 2000

12:01 am

Definitely another one! I flop over to look at the clock. Convinced this was definitely my time, I watch the numbers intently as I wait for the next contraction to present itself.  Five minutes pass so I wake up my husband.  “I am in labor,” I calmly state.

“Are you sure?” he replies.  

He can’t be serious, I thought.  My due date is today! I ate Chinese food for dinner and walked about 5 miles around the mall yesterday.  Clearly he has forgotten about the vow he had taken on our wedding day 6 years earlier:  “I promise to never question my wife. She will always be right!” 

Pregnancy Memes

Irritated, I simply restate my earlier declaration and advise him to get out of bed so I can change the sheets.  I will soon be calling my sister to come over and stay with our sleeping three year old daughter.  She needs fresh sheets.  

Then, because nesting is making itself apparent, I decide to go down the two flights of stairs into our basement to wash the sheets.  I pause at the washer to breathe through another contraction, then I put in a load of laundry. (Yes, I do have another clean set of sheets, which I immediately used to remake the bed.  I think I just do not want to come home from the hospital to a pile of laundry.)

1:00 am

“Is it time?” my sister exclaims into the phone.  “I will be right over!”

I travel back downstairs to switch the sheets into the dryer. A large puddle of water greets me as I approach my machines.  I call to my husband and report the problem.

“Are you sure?” he replies.  

Breathing through another contraction, I sarcastically state, “Tonight is not the night to play this game.”

1:30 am

My sister arrives at my home with a packed bag, prepared to stay for the next few days.  I have already prepared our daughter’s lunch for daycare, but I feel the need to go over everything that she will need for that day.  My sister listens carefully and says that she will be by to meet her newest relative as soon as she can.

1:45 am

We are in the car on our way to the hospital. As I am breathing through more frequent contractions, it suddenly dawns on me that I am about to give birth to our second child.  And it is going to hurt!

2:00 am

My husband and I pull up to the hospital.  We enter through the Emergency Room doors as instructed. A kind nurse gives me a ride in a wheelchair up to the Labor and Delivery floor.  I am immediately brought into a room.  Monitors are hooked up and I am told that everything looks great. I decide that I want to give birth naturally, so all I need to do now is focus on my breathing.

5:00 am

“Can I have the drugs please??!!!” I plead to the nurse.  It had only been a few hours, but the pain is exhausting and intolerable.

“I am sorry,” she says.  “That window is closed.”

“Can you open it?”  I ask.  She chuckles.

Giving birth: How men can help their partners in the delivery room | Metro  News

6:58 am

My husband and I are all alone in the room.  I have this incredible urge to push.  I tell him to get help.  

“It will be a few minutes” he says upon his return.  Then he mutters something about the shift change.  

“That’s not the right answer.” I scream.  “Get someone now!”

7:03 am

My obstetrician and a nurse come into the room.  One of them pulls out the table portion of the bed as the other one puts on gloves.  I don’t think my legs are even in the stirrups yet, but seeing them gives me permission to push.

And with that, a healthy baby boy burst into my life.  

March 6, 2021

I dedicate this story to my amazing son, Ryan, on his 21st birthday.  You entered my world with determination and have displayed this trait every day of your life.  You have brought your father and me countless hours of pride and joy. You make me laugh with your quick wit and keen sense of sarcasm. You amaze me with your independence.  

While I can not be with you in person today to celebrate your first legal drink, I want you to know that I will be toasting you all day.  I love you!

Time For Me To “Step It Up”

For the last few months, I have been working with a trainer to help me get back on track with my diet and exercise. As a part of my rehab, I am in a texting group with two other women and the trainer. We check in with each other daily and report if we have stayed within our caloric limit and if we hit our exercise goals.

Last month, the group decided to add a challenge into our routine to help motivate us. We connected on the same app and tracked each other’s progress each day. It went fairly well and bragging rights sufficed as a reward. Congratulations go to my group member who had more minutes of activity than our trainer did!  

Feeling the success of competition, we agreed to do another one in March. This month, we are competing to see which one of us can meet their daily step goal of 10,000 steps the most times. 

For this event, we decided to up the ante and have a reward for the winner.  Initially I suggested that we all pitch in $20 and the winner would receive a gift card to Hello Fresh or Misfit Market.  

Then, one member (who will forever remain nameless) suggested that we all go out for ice cream and the loser would pay.  Ice cream or veggies?  It was a no brainer. The three of us agreed to compete for the ice cream prize… 

Ice Cream Chocolate Sticker by Tom Windeknecht for iOS & Android | GIPHY

Until our trainer nixed our reward.  I proudly shared that we would only get a child’s sized, so she need not worry.  Still no.  She suggested that we work towards a personal reward that did not involve food and graciously offered up skin care products to the winner. Of course we all agreed, knowing down deep that she was right.  Why is she always right?

So now we are a few days into our challenge. It has been hard to hit the 10,000 step mark each day, especially given the fact that I am sitting far more at my job than ever. In order to meet the goal and try my best to win the prize, I have resorted to running around the kitchen island several times at the end of the day. I am not sure if I will win or not, but I am definitely going to “step it up.”

I Got Smacked Down & It Felt Great - The Legacy of You - Michael Ian Cedar

Sometimes in life, we just need someone there to support us and hold us accountable for our goals. We may also need some motivation to get there too, whether it is bragging rights or a child-sized dish of mocha chip ice cream.  I mean skin care products.

What personal goals are you working on right now?  Do you do better when someone holds you accountable?  Would you have said “yes” to the ice cream reward?