Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sam is 18 Months Old

Yesterday was Sam's 18 month birthday! Okay, I know some people think it's goofy that we still count his age in months. But honestly, it's such a short window, and we cherish every day--all 548, but who's counting?!

After dinner we went with Grandpa Joe and Uncle Jon to the fun water park and playground. The water was cold, but he was a daredevil on the slides. I think I have some reasons to be nervous!

He is my master teacher. He is teaching me about being completely present and living each day to its fullest. He's also teaching me about limiting my worries and fears and to trust that others will meet my needs. There is so much more, but I'm a bit of a slow learner, so I'll stop with those.

Watch a fun little video of Sam here.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Recommendation Friday

So I saw this book at the library earlier this year, and I must admit, I walked right by it. And then last Saturday evening I attended the storytelling concert at the 5th Annual Akron Storytelling Festival, and the author, Carmen Deedy, was featured. She is an AMAZING storyteller--I laughed, I cried. . .

This lead me to go home and look her up online. She has written numerous books, but this is the most recent. And it's a heart grabber. 14 Cows for America recounts the response of the the Masai people of Kenya to 9/11 when they finally heard about it the following April.

I think its a fantastic book to use in discussions about compassion for others--a topic that is not discussed nearly enough with children. Nor is it modeled often enough in ways that children can witness. It's also a great text for responding to tragedy in a nonviolent way, without seeking revenge or mongering fear.

I'm inspired to integrate more compassion into my life and into this world. What has a book inspired you to do?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Am The Queen Bee

Yesterday I received a fabulous piece of art in the mail. It's a raised carving print. I was very drawn to it on etsy (see other prints and journals by the artist here), and I think I like it more and more everytime I look at it. The artist, Catherine Just, I became aquainted with through the Mondo Beyondo class--which I can't recommend highly enough.

My intention with the piece of art was to fill my classroom this year with things that inspire me and my students. I loved this line by the artist, "The queen bee knows who she is, and she isn't afraid to own it!" I think of how inspiring it would be to my students if I really owned who I was, not trying to fit into other expectations and having enough awareness of myself to know when this was happening and stop it.

In addition to the print here are some other things that will be in our classroom this year: plants, (maybe fish,) linens, lamps, pillows, a sofa, fun writing paper and office supplies--not just business. I also want to include and inspiration board for myself.

What do you include in your workspace to inspire you?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Inspiration Monday

I wish I had a video of the most inspiring moment of my weekend. We popped into the car, headed to a neighborhood park with a water playground a few miles from our house and voila! OK, people, picture this with me. . .

a squeal of delight followed by the kind of laughter that usually accompanies uncontrolled tickling, but no one is touching this blue-eyed, blond haired, almost 18 month old. He is just soaking up the water that is spraying, trickling, and dumping from nearly every direction, walking around and watching other kids.

If you think you can handle more, read on. . . so a boy about 6 years old come up and starts playing with Sam, splashing in the water as it's about to spray from various spots, and talking to Sam (telling him they're play, as if the baby might not know!) and telling other kids to watch out for the baby! Even when some bigger boys (maybe brothers) tried to badger him into leaving, he just stayed with Sam.

As I watched this seen unfold and saw so much bliss in the eyes of many wet kids I was reminded of how grown ups can learn A LOT, A WHOLE BUNCH, A HEAP from children. They were so present and in the moment. There was joy and consideration for others. There was so much silliness and laughter, too.

As I recount those events I'm inspired to contemplate what that means for me in my life today and in the upcoming school year. I think I want to be more like the kids and less like the grownups.

What's inspiring you, today?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Recommendation Friday

Every year I try to start out with a read aloud novel that is newer to me. It's usually something I've read over the summer. I have just discovered the read aloud for this school year. . .Where The Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin. It was a Newbery Honor book this year, but I would have never picked it up if my brother had not recommended it.

I read it in one day! I never do that anymore. It is a beautifully woven tale that combines many legends in a stunning way. I can't wait to share it with my class. It is also a wonderful example of traditional literature for middle grade kids. There are many life lesson woven throughout, and I love the strong heroine. I think even reluctant readers would enjoy this story filled so much adventure.

The website linked above also has a fun introductory activity for the book and several activities for during and after reading.

What books do you recommend to read aloud?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Inspiration Monday

So any day can be an inspiration day, but I've decided to declare Mondays the day to just gather inspiration and let everything else go.

So here are some things that are inspiring me. . .


camping in the backyard with the boys and creating delicious smores
using water color pencils with Sam
watching Sam eat his first frozen pop

science notebooking (more about this soon)
filling up notebooks with ideas for next year

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

This Makes Our Summer

This evening my little family went to a concert inside the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. It was located at Howe Meadow. There was an amazing rhythm group called HeartBEAT Afrika. It was a sunny and muggy Ohio evening. We threw down our blanket with other folks from so many different walks of life.

Sam charmed and entertained many around us--especially with his dancing and applause. It seemed like his favorite part was a trio from the band beating out crazy rhythms on plastic buckets. Go figure! The simplicity of a little one to remind us what's really important. And all of this was FREE!

That's the thing that really amazes me about this area. There is such a wealth of culture and experience at very little cost. There are more concerts to come in this series, and for anyone interested, Pitch the Peat has been rescheduled for August 4.

As we drove away before the concert even ended, with a little boy rubbing his exhausted eyes, my husband said, "This makes our summer." And I concur!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Chasing a Blue Heron

I live blocks away from the Ohio/Erie Canal Towpath. It's a great place to walk, bike, or run. I thoroughly enjoy the historical and natural significance of the this spot. Sometimes I try to imagine what life was like during canal days or even before that when the first Ohioans lived here.

This evening my little family took a stroll down to the canal, and we quickly spotted a blue heron, an often illusive resident. So as soon as we would get close enough to take a picture that sucker would take off. They are so majestic when they fly, but I didn't get to see much as I was messing around with the camera!

We would catch up to where he landed and was standing perfectly still, and he would take off again. It was as if we were playing a game of chasing the Blue Heron! We probably repeated this for close to a mile total. At the top I've included my 2 favorite photos. The one of him flying away was the last view we had, as he tired of the game. Ashh, summer!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Little Things Are Big Things

Earlier this week I was feeling down. As I processed this I thought about wanting something spectacular to make summer feel like summer--a trip, an event, etc. And then I started to think about what makes this summer unique. I'm really living a life most would envy. I have time to spend with my husband and son every day. I eat vegetables grown on a local CSA farm, and we go every week to the farm to get the vegetables. I cook almost everyday. I have time to read for pleasure and lots of professional books I don't have time to read during the school year. I get to take lots of little outings to parks, hiking trails, the library, and the inflatable pool in our backyard. I also have time to recharge with old TV shows, magazines, and little art projects. I hear the blissful laughter of a little boy, and I witness the beautiful curiosity as he explores his universe--birds, lightening bugs, dirt, water, etc..

To some these may seem like little things, but I know they are the big things that make summer really feel like summer. And I am so lucky!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In A Funk

I woke up this morning. It was already hot. As the sweat slid down my brow my emotions slid into a funk.

I can't explain it. I know some reasons for a little funkiness, but not this.

I suspect it might connect to how tough it is for me to just be human and not so doing oriented. I want to create lists of things to do and fill the time and space. I KNOW that wonder-full things enter in when I leave enought room. But, alas, I kick and scream the whole way there.

Over the weekend I got to go to 3 parks because I left some open space. The photo at the top of this post is the rest of my family on the walk. I was inspired and joy-full.

I hope tomorrow I will leave a space open and just let it be.

Monday, July 5, 2010

People Pleasers Unite, If That's OK With You

Sometimes I'm absolutely stunned by how much I want people to like me--especially after the resources I've invested in personal growth. This weekend I accidently cut in front of another customer at the grocery store, and she was mad. The whole way home I did this internal dialog of self flagelation. "Why did you do this? What if you see her again? And so on." Even when I tried to dial up the "Your human. It was a simple mistake." The other voice was louder and stronger.

But here comes the interesting "Aha Moment." Then I'm in the kitchen working on a salad that required a lot of chopping while my husband and son nap, and boy, does the resentment build. So there I go from I'm afraid this total stranger is going to hate me for the rest of my life (translation: I'm not being kind to myself) and I turn that into lets just be mad and petty with the people we love.

That people pleasing thing is so incidious and deep--YIKES!

Let's make a pact together today to quiet that voice and focus on the ones we do love--if that's OK with you!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Every year I think of a new word that really fits me, and it becomes my personal and professional theme for the school year. Last year the word was THRIVE. I just decided on the word for the upcoming year. . .(drumroll) INSPIRE!

I was thinking about what inspires me. I walked outside with a camera and had to photograph these plants growing out of the wall by my driveway. It would seem impossible that plants would even try to grow out of blocks and mortar, but here they are, and I'm inspired.

Some of what inspires me here and now:

1. Sam (who danced on his knees like crazy at a concert last night)
2. Summer flowers in bloom
3. Water--puddles, lakes, oceans, rain, even baths
4. E-courses--Mondo Beyondo and Flying Lessons are the two that have inspired me this year.
5. Time to read for business and pleasure
6. Starting my year long plan for school and feeling excited
7. Inspiring other people
8. Time by myself

Stay tuned for more of what inspires me and how I plan to inspire others.