Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Today is the day! #SOL16

Today is the day!

The sun is shining, bright and beautiful.  The temperature soars too warm for a jacket or even long pants.  Plans for dinner change from soup and salad to grilling something, anything.

Everyone itches to get outside.  What chore can we find?  What situation can we create?  What can get me closer to the fresh air, soaking up some sun?

Is it too early to talk about gardens?  We don't care.  Did they just mention swimming?  That sounds like fun!  Do we have any sun block?  I don't think we do.  Can you turn on the air conditioner?  Maybe we will.

"Dad are you going to cut the grass?  It's getting really long."

We cut the bushes, burn the grasses, wash the dog.  We clean out the garage, get out our summer clothes totes, put away the boots and hats and gloves.

Today is the day!  Spring has sprung!

What's that?  It's going to be a high of 40 this weekend?

Monday, March 14, 2016

one of those days

It's been one of those days.

The time change has wrecked whatever similence we had to a schedule.  I've caught a ridiculous head cold, and I seem to have shared some of those germs with the baby.  His nose is stuffy and yucky and pathetic.  There are about a million things to do at work.

On the way home, I realized what a beautiful day it had turned out to be.  My son had the back window rolled all the way down with his left arm hanging out, his hand floating on the currents of the air.  His hair blew back in the wind rushing in the window.  His seat belt strained across his chest as he tried to lean as far out as he could to catch all air he could.

"Tate, sit back while we're on the highway.  I want you to be safe," I said.

"Ok, Mom, but it's too nice to be too far from the fresh air.  It is just pulling me out towards it," he responded.

I couldn't help but smile.  I watched his hand out the window, floating on the air, all the way home.  His innocence and energy turned my day around in an instant.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The crazy plant lady...it's me

One day, a couple of years ago, I sent a picture of the boys to my sister.  They were displaying some proud moment that they wanted Aunt Heidi to know about.  She replied some good-for-you comment to the boys then proceeded to call me a crazy plant lady!  In the background of the picture we'd sent, behind the boys, was the plant shelf you see above.  Granted, I do have quite a few house plants.
Here's the deal.  Every time I go to Lowe's, I can't help but swing over by the house plant section to see what may be set out on a clearance deal.  Usually the plants are dying, but they are marked down to a small fraction of the original cost.  They are like little plant orphans.  I can't help myself.  African violets for a quarter.  Ivies for a dime.  Larger, varied colored tropicals for two or three dollars.  They all sit there looking needy, and I know I can help them.  With a few bucks, a little time, the sun from this south facing window, and a routine watering, I can take some horrible looking plant off death's door step and freshen up the air in my house.  Well, at least that's what I tell myself anyway.
So, today, I admit to you, the public (who I will probably never have to face), I, Emily Culbertson, have a plant problem.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saturday mornings #sol16

Saturday morning,
late start,
slow yawns,
breakfast in the skillet.

Saturday morning,
fuzzy pants,
misting rain,
coffee in the cups.

Saturday morning,
quiet time,
baby naps,
laundry in the washer.

How I love Saturday mornings!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Flashing lights are not just for the disco

This morning my family was getting ready for the day just like every other morning.  The big boys were downstairs eating breakfast, Jay was looking for a particular pair of socks in his drawer, Todd was on his way to the closet to get dressed, and I had just laid the baby in the middle of our bed to get ready myself.
Todd hit the switch to turn on the lights.  He said, "Close your eyes, baby", talking to Gabe who was barely awake.  I stayed close, to shield Gabe from the bright lights.  Flash on, turn off, flash on, turn off..."What in the world?" Todd asked.
Our ceiling fan lights were flashing on and off.  They are on a dimmer, so Todd tried to dim them down, didn't work.  He turned the lights off, then back on, didn't work.  He pulled the fan chain and then the light chain, turning parts on and off, didn't work.
Just then Jay came in from his room, "What's wrong with your lights?" he asked looking from the fan to his dad, to me, then back to the flashing lights.
Finally, Todd threw his hands up in frustration.  "This is ridiculous!  I guess we'll just have to get dressed in the dark."
"Well, that's silly." I said to Todd, then proceeded to try again exactly what I had seen him do.  With no more luck at fixing the lights than he had, I gave up too.  Instead, I opened the curtains to the bedroom.
Baby Gabe seemed happy as can be to lay on the bed in the semi-darkness watching his parents get ready for the day.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Gets me to thinkin'

Today, over at Two Reflective Teachers, Melanie Meehan listed powerful, thought provoking quotes from a TCRWP staff developer.  Go check out her post here.

"Help kids figure out being a good partner is like a life thing. It’s bigger than reading workshop or writing workshop!" 

Many of the quotes spoke to me, but this one demanded my thoughts, hence I am writing about it.  We aren't here to teach kids to be good test takers.  We aren't here to teach kids to be novelists.  We aren't here to teach kids to be editors or book reviewers.  However, if any of these things came to be, we would rejoice!

We are here to grow problem solvers.  We are here to teach teamwork and cooperation.  We are here to show work ethic and productivity.

To me, it isn't just partnerships, but the workshop structure/model.  Workshop is bigger than "school".  Workshop structure is a life thing.  It teaches independence and truly deep thinking.  Workshop is heartfelt and brain teasing.  It gives kids opportunity for creativity and expects reflective actions to reach one's goals.  AND workshop contributes about a million other positive characteristics to our days that I can't name right now.  It is just bigger.  It is about life and all that life will ask of you.

Thanks for the post, Melanie!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

the shoes #SOL16

Before you begin reading today, I want all readers to notice that the title is not The Shoes, but instead the shoes.  This post will not be a riveting tale of fabulous shoes and how they came to be mine.  No, not all.  This story takes place in completely different time and setting.

The shoes at my house are completely out of control.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE SHOES!  I would have a million pair if I could.  My mom used to call me Imelda (after Imelda Marcos), and that was before I was of an age where I could buy my own shoes.  BUT...my shoes are not the problem.

My home houses four sons and my husband.  They have shoe problems.

Inside the garage, next to the door to the house is a boot rack.  It is a shelving unit with wire shelves to hold boots.  The wire bottoms let the mud and dirt fall off the boots, so it can easily be swept up. I should say "in theory" as we don't know if this actually happens.  The shelves have the potential to hold about 8-10 pairs of boots.  Unfortunately, boots are rarely placed on the shelf, so it has yet to live up to its potential.  Instead, the boots sit on the floor in front of the shelf, or they are kicked off in every direction, landing exactly where I will trip over them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Farewell to Downton

I don't watch much tv.

A few years ago, my sister went to Ireland for a study abroad experience where she extended her overseas stay by heading into London for a few days.  Since this time, she has become fairly obsessed with British culture and history.  She discovered Downton Abbey.

My sister is younger than me by five years, but in many ways wiser and older.  She is a fascinating person, and I have the utmost respect and pride for her.  She told me to watch the show, so I did.

From the first episode, I was in love.  The dynamic between the sisters, the relationships of the house, and the foreign feel to the time period all drew me in and demanded all my attention.  The show had an edgy feel, but it was a period drama.  It tackled so many issues of the early 1900's.  No history lesson has ever been more interesting.  Still, it blows my mind.  There is a definite creative genius behind it all.

By the middle of the third season, my husband was hooked too.  I think that the male audience this show drew is unexpected and fun.  It is probably also one of the reasons the show was such a big hit.  It called to so many diverse audiences, and all the while not feeling like it was trying.

Well, my husband and I watched the finale, and now we are sad that our one show is no longer.  Farewell to Downton, and thanks for the entertainment.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Praise Him!

The sun is shining.

Praise Him!

The weather is warm and clear.

Praise Him!

The earth is damp.

Praise Him!

The garden is tilled and waiting.

Praise Him!

The spring shows promise of new life.

Praise Him!

The Easter season reminds us that new life waits for us.

Praise Him!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

New Mom Tired is a special kind of Tired

In the still of the night, I sit holding Baby Gabe, eyes closed and dozing.  Trying not to completely fall asleep, resulting in dropping the baby, I blink my eyes.  The blinks get longer...and longer...and longer.  Man, so very tired, exhausted. I need to either wake up or lay him down.  Neither option is easy.  If I don't have something in front of me, tangible, bright, the sleep will just over take me.  However, I didn't bring my phone with me.  I was too tired to think to grab it.  Laying him down is tricky.  I have lost my touch in my five year vacation.  I have to go back to bed.  This is silly.  Slowly, tensing all the muscles I have awake, I stand and softly walk toward the crib.  Ever so gently, I lay him on his back, hoping the blanket keeps his arms bundled securely to his chest.  Success!  I tiptoe out the door.  Collapsing in bed, I smile into the night.  What a blessing to be so exhausted!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

At the end of the day #sol16

At the end of the day, when it is clear and chilly, the chickens peck in the backyard, searching for any insect that may have ventured out into the day's earlier sunshine.  The sun is advancing beyond the horizon, leaving purple, pink, and blue streaks.  Lizzy, the labrador, wanders by looking at the chickens as if deciding whether or not to break up their frenzied hunt.  She stops, nose in the air looking left and right.  This is her yard, her home.  She protects it from any invader.  When all seems safe, she turns and heads toward the house.  Her dinner is waiting inside the garage, where she will eat and then retire to her bed.  She will continue to keep watch from that perch until she's invited inside for bedtime.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Crying over spilt milk #sol16

Well, this week the saying about not crying over spilt milk has been at the forefront of my mind.  Whoever in the world started that saying has apparently never attached themselves to a breast pump for the wellness of their child.

I am transitioning back to work after being out on maternity leave.  The other district literacy coaches and I are leading some collaborative professional development sessions at the district central offices.  On lunch break, I am using an office to pump.  Pumping has not worked for me in the past.  However, this time I am getting some good results.  It is the most unnatural thing in the world for me, but I stick with it because I know it is best for the baby.  I pretty much hate every minute of it.

So, the other day, I find myself sitting on the floor of the office, attached to the pump, distracting myself with reading and day dreaming.  After pumping, I was pouring the milk from the bottles into the storage baggie.  Out of the corner of my eye, I see the other bottle tipping, teetering, getting ready to fall over.  I screamed out, "AAAAAAHHHHH!"  I caught it, just in time to prevent a spill!  Can you imagine?  This liquid gold that I slave over creating, spilt on the carpet of the district central offices, please, no!!  I can just see myself, full of humility, asking for the janitor and carpet extractor.  Oh my, the potential for embarrassment is through the roof.

To prevent this possible episode of mortification, I am considering pumping in the car next time.  Either way, I am delighted that I didn't have to actually cry over my spilt milk.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

New books make me feel like Mary Catherine Callagher

Today, I was called up to the district central office to help with books that had been ordered for classroom libraries.  The curriculum office secretary, Ashley, had asked for some help.  As we rounded the corner, I stopped in surprise.  My eyes fell on a hallway full of white boxes with red lettering labeled Scholastic.  It was a beautiful sight.
Ashley and I were to inventory the shipment and divide it up between the elementary schools.  I proceeded to help Ashley by becoming completely inebriated in the feel, smell, and vividly colored book covers.  Like a ping pong ball, my attention bounced from box to box, from title list to packing list, from order copy to distribution plan.  I was overwhelmed, each book a siren calling out, requiring my response.  I was a total spaz, and it was wonderful.
Eventually, I calmed, apologized to Ashley, and buckled down to be a true help.  We were joined by reinforcements a short time later.  One room held tables where we sorted titles for K and 1 elementary classrooms (the beginnings of this project are in the photo below).  Out in the hallway, we sorted boxes of collections of books for upper elementary.  Working together with high spirits, the crew finished the job in a few hours.  It was like being a kid at Christmas and being Santa, all at the same time.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

From the Inside Looking Out #sol16

It is a day for being inside.  The trees dance left and right, back and forth, but completely out of step with each other.  The wind slams against the house like the waves at Sunset Beach on the North Shore.  The snow flurries are erratic.  Some flakes drive straight across the sky rushing, pushing to get to the ground.  While other flakes sway and float, here and there, going no place in particular in no kind of hurry.  I am grateful for the strong walls and solid windows that protect me, keeping me warm and cozy inside while looking out.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

These moments #sol16

It's his cankles and the line in the chubbiness where his wrist should be.  Those are the things that you miss.  The daily grind, barely making it in survival mode, makes it tough to soak in these moments.  I am a new mom, for the fourth time.
You might be thinking, "you can only be a new mom once, when it's actually new", but I'm here to tell you that you forget.  You forget the best parts.  You also forget the hard parts.  Thankfully you forget that stuff.  If you didn't forget the hard parts, the feral, primitive, hardly ever awake parts, the earth would cease to be populated.  That's how hard it is.  I had not documented those parts, so I forgot.  Hence, I am a new mom...again.
Thinking about the hard parts, focusing on getting through, makes me glide over the best parts.  I hardly notice the funny noise he makes as he is falling asleep, sucking on that binky.  I will forget how he startles himself in the bathtub with his own kicks.  When he is hungry, and it's time to eat, he licks his lips and sucks in his bottom lip.  I will miss that little detail of his face, his development, him.
I am, right now, committing to saving these things.  Knowing that my other boys were similar, and I didn't keep up recording their little bits, what made them special little babies, will keep me on track this time.  These moments have to stay with me so I can remember, so I will not forget.