Saturday, May 30, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
It's been a biz-ZZZZZZZZZ week and the dust is just beginning to settle a bit. Saturday we hosted an open-house for the Magpie in honor of her graduation. Ideally, I would have thrown together a video of her pictures from baby to now, but I had no time to do this. After having a few bouts of 'mother's guilt', I came up with a different idea. I wanted to create a board that our guests could sign for her with words of wisdom, love, etc. Last summer I had created a 'vision board' for myself and the same sort of design came to mind for my project. So in between all the craziness of the week, I made her this:
My idea was to have paper and pens out, and at some point, each guest could write down a little something for the Magpie. I set it up at an antique school desk in my living room - pens, paper and a cute little tablet of note tags.I also did the same thing I had done for my memory board - taking brads and 'bubbles' and gluing them onto pushpins for guests to tack their notes onto the board with.
Last night I had a chance to sit down and read the tags that everyone wrote and oh my... it was simply amazing the kind words, love, and uplifting thoughts that everyone gifted Mag with! It turned out so much more than what I thought it would and she is thrilled with it! It is now in her room and reminds her of how many people she has in her corner!
It was a great afternoon and we were so touched by how many friends and family came! Great people, indeedy!
After I read her memory board and had a chance to take a breath from EVERYTHING that has been going on; checking things off in my mind, it dawned on me....Miss Magpie's birthday is THIS SATURDAY - SHE'LL BE 18!!! ACK!! Someone stop me from bringing out from the freezer the leftover graduation cake for her birthday! I guess I'll figure out something later on this week.... I have no more brain power right now to plan another shin-dig!
The weather has been just gorgeous these last few days and this morning I was able to let some more dust settle. I sat out on the patio with my creamy coffee and just let time stand still for a few. As a teacher, this is such a luxury. To be done with the crazy, harried ending of the school year and ALL that it entails, the planning and preparing for Mag's graduation night and her open house, the routine of everyday life and a million and one things that this month brings....it's been 'May Madness' and I am so glad to have it almost done with. I've been able to get reacquainted with my garden and back yard - oh, how I have missed them!
A basil plant that I bought a week or so ago has been waiting patiently for me to sink it into the garden dirt - and so I did! It's happy as ever now in its new home..and so am I! One of my favorite salads to make in the summer is caprese salad and skipping out to my garden to snip fresh basil just can't be beat! Happy growing, sweet basil!
Remember my gift of pussy willow branches a month or so ago? I've had them in water ever since and all of the little buds have opened into soft, fuzzy pussy willows - love them! But I have some branches with young, green shoots growing off the main branch and I'm excited to try to grow them into pussy willow bushes. I planted them in some soil this morning, made a little greenhouse with a baggie, and we'll see if they, do indeed, put down roots and grow!!
Recently, I posted a photo of my mutant tomato plant. During a recent storm the darn thing was blown over- it's so full and heavy!! Well, Friday morning I had a melt-down (no doubt from all of the stress of late) and despite having a zillion things to do, places to go and a whole house to clean, I found myself heading out to my yard. I looked at my tomato plant and....despite my inner voice reminding me of all I had yet to do, I picked up my pruners and made that 'first clip'. Gardeners know just what I mean...you make that 'first' clip, and it's all over. You can't just make one...because you make one over here, then oh, right here...and wait, let me get that stem there.... and before you know it, your heavy plans and mile-long lists are on the back burner! I probably spent a good 1 1/2 hours working on my tomato plant and other important 'putter' jobs here and there in the garden. And it truly calmed my nerves and settled my mind a great deal. It also reinforced what my spirit knows to be true...I'm meant to be outside in nature doing something creative with my heart and my hands. It's where my soul is the happiest.
After clearing out some dead stuff, and pruning it waaaay back, my plant is only half the plant it was, but it is sooo much happier! So happy, in fact, the next day there was a touch of blush on those sweet green globes! And this morning, I have a couple almost-ripe red presents on the vine! Such awakening!
Today is Memorial Day - a day to remember and honor those who have served our country with strength, bravery and in many cases, with their lives. The older I get, the more this day means to me, because in our world, freedom is not to be taken lightly nor for granted. Take time today to offer up a silent prayer for all of those who have served, to those families of our brave armed forces and to those who are no longer with us. Because of men and women all over this world manning command stations, sitting in an A.P.C. in the desert in Iraq, silently gliding underneath the ocean's surface or sleeping on the ground in Afghanistan you and I are able to have a cookout, spend time with our family and friends and go to bed tonight without worry for our safety. May God bless them all....and may God bless America!
pondered by Carol Dunton at 9:59 AM
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
That's my girl! All ready for the big ceremony... Miss M graduated from high school Wednesday night....and she did it with class!!
The ceremony was held at our university's activity center and it was awesome!
Hard to see, I know...but that's my girl receiving her diploma! Teary moment! The most teary moment, however, was when we found each other in the crowd! See that setup in the corner - those white panels under the trinitron screen? That's where the symphonic orchestra was sitting. I didn't realize that she was part of that, too, that night. We were texting each other and she found me, but I couldn't find her...I was looking at all of the student down in the rows of chairs. She texted me and told me she was in the orchestra ('duh' moment for me, here...she's only played in the band, or orchestra or symphony for ..let's see... how many years has it been? Oh yes... NINE years!!) and to look there for her. I did. And there was this little hand waving back and forth at me....IT WAS HER!!!!!!!! THAT'S when I really got teary-eyed. To think that in this big place, with thousands of people and all sorts of activities going on...two people connected across the space with little waves to each other. It was a wonderful way to celebrate a long, hard road that we both have walked together these past 4 years.
Afterwards, I was able to wait above the wall as the graduates emerged from the 'tunnel' leading out of the ceremony. Hugs, kisses, 'I'm so proud of you!!' and a lot of friends along with fireworks and a sea of humanity... I captured my 'little girl's' proudest moment!
I'm in the middle of getting things set up for an openhouse celebrating her accomplishments tomorrow. Yesterday was the last day of school and today was 'sign out' day. Time to try to relax and celebrate! Did someone say PAR-TAY??? : ))
pondered by Carol Dunton at 10:19 PM
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
....because it's almost over.
Over for my class as their teacher.
Over for my daughter's days in high school.
And I am overwhelmed. Over-tired. Over-worked. It's a bit of a challenge to enjoy these days when one is like this. Cume folders, report cards, taking down the room, planning celebrations to close out our time together, meetings, end-of-year proceedures, pizza ordered, correspondence, and upteen million other things that teachers have to do during the day....and...oh yeah... make the day purposeful for 28 students.
This is a difficult time for me as I say good-bye to my class. You see, I am a 'looping' teacher (not to be confused with 'loopy', of which I truly am). I start with my class as 1st graders, they go home for summer vacation and then return to me so that we can do 2nd grade together. So I am their teacher for two years, and they are my world for two years. In less than 48 hours, I will spend the last of our 360 days together and send them on to 3rd grade. Every time I say 'good-bye' to a class, it is always harder than the last class before them. These kiddos are nothing short of amazing, loving and intelligent in all ways. Their compassion and kindness are unsurpassed.
I have been working like a crazed woman for the last two weeks on the video I make to send them off with of our last two years together. It has consumed my every spare moment, and I had to ask for help from a colleague, who has helped me out immensely. Today, I made 28 copies of the final cut - a gift for each one of my kiddos as we say goodbye. Today, my class and a wonderful class mom presented me with a book that they wrote for me about me - each child reading his/her page...it was touching and beyond beautiful....and left me a moppy mess of tears.
In 24 hours, I will be attending my daughter's graduation from high school at our university. Have 4 years gone by already?!?? Is she at the end of her senior year?? How did this happen, where was I and where did the time go?!? I will attend the ceremony by myself, and I am afraid of this a bit. I don't want to be presented with the situation of having to be magnanimous to my ex. It's not what I had dreamed of for this day. But there is a reason that it is playing out to be so, and so it is. I think I am afraid of a flood of emotions from both her graduating and saying 'good-bye' to my class hitting me all at once. I hope the people I sit by are understanding...and carry extra kleenex with them!
The other night I made a 'memory board' for her. I'll post it next time. I just got my camera back from the shop where it had to be taken apart because of a speck of something deciding to get behind my lens... unbelievable how much a speck can end up costing! Tonight, I am letting myself catch up with the times...now that the video is done. Tonight I am letting the moment sink in. Tonight I am not doing school work. Tonight, I am letting the emotions find their seat.
Because, in a blink of an eye....it will all be over.
pondered by Carol Dunton at 4:00 PM
Monday, May 11, 2009
Cleared for take-off! And we did - up to Minneapolis for the International Reading Association convention. Our flights were amazing and, once again, I watch in total awe as this hunk of metal flies above the earth and delivers us to a new part of our country!
...beginning our decent into Minneapolis.... the clouds were puffy balls of cotton floating along on a parade! Check out the housing of this engine... serious thrust, folks!! Awesome! OH! I almost forgot... we flew on a 737-700 series on this leg of our journey..... SAAAAA-WEEEEETTTTT!!
This was my first time visiting Minneapolis and it was such a wonderful city to visit! The people were very friendly and the city was clean, easy to navigate and welcoming to all of us! We spent our days at the convention attending author seminars, workshops and symposiums. We also walked for miles up and down aisles and aisles of exhibitors: publishers, vendors, and everything in-between that has to do with the wonderful world of reading!! The opening session featured guest author, Khaled Hosseini, who wrote two wonderful books: The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. His speech was humble, soulful and educational. I was honored to have been able to hear him speak of his passions.
Later, I attended an author's session featuring five of the most talented authors of children's literature; one of whom was Annie Barrows. She is the author of a series titled 'Ivy and Bean' which is geared towards 2nd - 5th grade girl readers. But that wasn't what grabbed my attention. When she was introduced, the coordinator also told us that she was the author of the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I literally had to stop myself from jumping up (in front of about 200 other educators) and screaming "ANNIE!!! I LOVE YOUR BOOK!!! OUR BOOK CLUB JUST READ IT A FEW MONTHS AGO AND I LOVED IT FROM COVER TO COVER!!! I LOVE YOU!!!" Fortunately, I was able to contain myself, but it was close. She later was doing a book-signing in the exhibitor's hall for her publisher - look how close I was to her!! I ran over and bought her 'Guernsey' book from another vendor then ran back, got in line, was #3! (score!) and got her autograph in my book! I gushed about how much I loved her story and she was so sweet! She even gave me the recipe on how to really make a potato peel pie!! Love this woman!
But wait! There's more!! The author of all of those Magic Tree House books that my class and I have read (we're on number 21!)....MARY POPE OSBORNE!!! My kiddos and I are NUTS over the escapades of 'Jack and Annie' in this series! I bought two of her newer books and she signed them... and, of course, I gushed over how much we love her writing! It was almost a fluke that I even found the off-the-beaten-path room that she was signing in...it was wonderful to see her!So let's talk about my buddy, Sharon Creech. She wrote a book several years ago titled Love That Dog. I remember reading it in an afternoon one summer day at Starbuck's and the tears just streaming down as I finished it. I have always had a soft spot for the woman who wrote such a touching, poetic story. Well, last year in Atlanta, her
publisher was offering free copies of her new book-to-be Hate That Cat, of which I got a copy of. Let me just say, I LOVE that book, too! So here she was in Minneapolis, signing copies of her book. My friend, Miss K, and I got to visit with her as she signed our books - can you see how thrilled I am to be with another fantastic author?!!?? I just can't get enough of them! Sharon was so kind and friendly...just a gem! And score! Got her new book-to-be that's coming out later in the year!! : ))
One of my favorite children's book characters is Skippyjon Jones..... written AND illustrated by this wonder of a woman, Judy Schachner. She is a stitch! She did a presentation of her home, her cats, her studio and her life and she's just as charming and funny as she is talented! After her presentation was over, I skippeeeeetoed over to her publisher's booth and waited in line for over an hour to have her sign her books for me. She mentioned that she remembered seeing me back in the session smiling at her - and she said that made her feel comfortable! You can't help but smile around this charming lady! : ))
Now, for the moment that has me dazed! This gentleman is Todd Parr - author extraordinaire who has written touching books; my favorite being It's Okay to be Different. I read this book each year to my new 1st graders, so I've been a fan of his for quite a while. He gave a wonderful speech earlier in a session and it's obvious that this man has overcome much in his life and has worked even harder to achieve his dreams and goals! Any whoo... afterwards, we ran over to the exhibit hall and got in line to have him sign his books. This time, his books were only $1...can you believe that?!??? That's almost unheard of! So I grabbed two and my friend grabbed a couple for him to sign for her grandson. As our turn approached and Mr. Parr was signing my books, it suddenly dawned on me - I can afford to buy each of my kiddos a book! (Side note here....as my 2nd graders head up to third, I always buy each student a book to have as one of my gifts for them. I've been searching for the right book, but with 28 kiddos, it can get expensive, so I've been distressed about this situation after searching for something and not finding anything that I could afford.)
I asked if I could buy 30 books, and they couldn't have been more kind about it. Then Mr. Parr said 'I'll sign them for you, too!" I told him that that wasn't necessary - he had so many people in line and so many other books to sign! But he insisted, so we set it up that I bought the books, left them there and then I returned later after he had had a chance to sign them all. When I came back, he was just leaving and we were able to snap a quick pic together....even though I am worn out, haven't eaten all day and a bit bedraggled, I was THRILLED beyond to have such a wonderful gift for each of my kiddos and from such a wonderful author! SHHHHH.....THIS IS A SECRET, SO YOU HAVE TO PINKIE-PACT THAT YOU WON'T TELL THEM!! I've ordered reprints of this picture and will be pasting a copy of it inside each book for them, as well. I can hardly keep quiet about it.... help me out, will you?? : ))
I could go on and on about how much I got out of hearing these talented people talk of their passions, their teachers, their crafts and their lives. I want to be one of them when I grow up! We saw and did so much in Minneapolis - too much to recount. It was just an incredible experience in every way and I am grateful beyond to have been able to go. It was hard to leave.
But return home, I must. So down the runway we rumbled again - and sailed west at 38,000 feet above this planet. On our approach, a beautiful sight was out my window....the Four Peaks mountains were below me, the sun was beginning to sink to my west, and the full moon was beginning her ascent to my east. Bright. Round. Pure. Ethereal.
Do you see why I love to fly???
pondered by Carol Dunton at 12:00 PM
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The most happiest of Mother's Day to all of you dear moms.....
The years have lessened the tears and soothed the hurt. But I'm not sure the 'missing her' will ever go away. I don't think it will. After my dad's recent passing, my brother and sisters gathered the things up in the home. I went over soon after to get a couple of things that had been my mom's which had no value whatsoever to anyone else but me; such as an ivory sand dollar encased in a glass paperweight. I had bought that for my mom from J.C. Penny's when I was about 19. She proudly kept it on her desk at work (she was an executive secretary to an associate superintendent with our school district) and I so distinctly remember seeing it on her desk everytime I visited her at work; which was often! So when the house was being dismantled, I wanted to gather that gift back - which mom had kept all these years....about 33 years!
As my brother handed me this little stack of items that they thought I would want, there was this picture of my mom.....and I gasped slightly and then the tears fell. This is my mom's high school senior picture. I remember it so well sitting on the music frame of my grandparent's piano up in their home in Iron Springs. As a rambucious toddler and child, I was all over the place, but I would take the time to climb up onto the piano bench and sit there - staring at a woman's face whom I didn't really recognize at first. (They had to tell me that that was my mom the first time I saw it!) I remember studying it - the smile, the nose, her hair style, the beautiful pearl necklace. This beautiful woman was someone I didn't know...a senior in high school working at a bank and aquiring top-notch skills to become one of the best secretaries around; something I tried to eummulate, but was never, ever quite as good at. Each time we came out from Ohio to visit my grandparents, I always was welcomed by my mom's beautiful smile from the piano.
This picture has been in my dad's 'office' room for the last upteen years. I had forgotten about it. So when my brother handed it to me, it caught me off-guard in several ways. I have it now in my home, by two other pictures of my mom. It is a family heirloom of which there is no other copy. It is unique and priceless.... just like my mom was.
As for the sand dollar...it now has a place of honor on my desk at school. I can sometimes be found picking it up...studying the amazing design of it...remembering the story behind it and the full circle of which it has traveled.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. A Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful women that I know who give of themselves without end, who love their children despite their trials, who embrace their role of 'mother' and would give everything they have for their child. It is an honor, priviledge and a blessing to be able to watch and hear your stories of your children, no matter how old they may be. May God bless each one of you and your beautiful 'babies'.
pondered by Carol Dunton at 2:17 PM
Saturday, May 02, 2009
Oh baby! As you read this, I am making sure that my seat belt is securely fastened and that my tray is in the up-right position. My carry-on bag is tucked underneath the seat in front of me and all of my electronic devices have been turned off. I will
act interested but be too busy looking out the window watch the flight attendants describe emergency proceedures and take a look at the emergency proceedure card in the pocket in front of me. That's right, folks... this gal is airborne!!!
I am sooo fortunate to be able to attend the International Reading Association's convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota next week. I attended last year's convention in Atlanta and had such a wonderful time - in so many ways. I am so excited because the opening keynote speaker is Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns! Another author, Greg Mortensen, who wrote Three Cups of Tea, will also be there. As will Sharon Creech (Love That Dog/Hate That Cat). My favorite part of last year's convention was attending classes with authors. I loved hearing about their craft, their inspirations, their techniques, their passions! Facinating, I tell you! I got to meet Jerry Spinnelli and he signed my books! I attended a breakfast and a luncheon featuring authors and teachers with insight on children, teaching reading and keeping up the work we do as teachers, despite the bleakness that faces our jobs.
But, as those of you who know... my biggest thrill just may be the fact that I'm flying on an airplane!!! Aviation has been a passion of mine since my 'little girl' days. We would all load up into the green Oldsmobile, stop at Kentucky Fried Chicken and get our little box dinners, then drive to the airport on a Sunday evening. My dad would park our car off the road along one of the runways and take out the transistor radio that allowed us to listen to the pilots talk to the control tower. We'd hear their numbers/call signs, watch the lights as they approached, feel the rumble in our chests as the plane roared by on take-off and watched in silent awe as the runway lights silently blinked on as the sun sank behind the far-off hills. Licking our fingers and being careful not to spill, it was Sunday dinner at its best and it instilled in me a life-long love of planes, flying, airports and all the comes with it.
To this day, I am kicked into high gear with the smell of jet fuel, the rumble of the turbine engines, the sight of the control tower and the beauty of what seems to be impossible...a mass of metal lifting off the ground and flying miles overhead. The rumble of the plane as the engines whine louder as we roll down the runway...a thrill! When you feel the plane leave the concrete and the shift in the weight as we all become airborne is a thrill!! The G-forces as you are pushed back into your seat on ascent...is a thrill! Turning?? A thrill!! Turbulence, well.... except for two extreme cases I've experience out of Honnolulu and approaching Baltimore, a thrill as well! The sound of the landing gear being lowered as we come in for a landing... a thrill! The slight strain of the seat belt as we land and shift from acceleration to coming to a stop...a thrill!
This year I will be traveling with some of my friends from last year and a new one, too! I am so very grateful for the opportunity and the chance to broaden my life experience! New territory, new city, new experience - and I can't wait!! I'll wave as I fly overhead!! I'll be in a window seat!!
pondered by Carol Dunton at 6:00 AM