way to go, brain

I got good news from the neurologist yesterday. The swelling in my brain is no longer increasing!!
WOO HOO!
My brain is still swollen.
They’re still not quite sure why.
But it seems to be holding steady where it is.
I’m thankful for “just” swelling because it isn’t increased swelling.
Good work getting it together, brain. Keep up the good work.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

how very Robynbird

So we have to answer these questions and talk about them with the priest before she’ll marry us. (Y’all, she’s the funniest thing! She said, “I mean, I’m a girl in a collar! How cool is that?”)
Anyway…
It’s not quite “marriage counseling”…but it’s the way they do it in the Episcopal church. Which is cool with me because I’m taking it seriously and answering them with thought and from my heart.

For the most part.
I say this because the second question is as follows:

What personal strengths do you bring to a relationship?
I wrote:
I’m a BAMF!

Yes, I swear to you I did.
Now, I followed it up with more appropriate things that I can’t share with you, because YBW reads these words and we promised we wouldn’t talk about the questions or our answers until we shared them when we meet with A next week.
I do bring pretty spectacular personal strengths to my relationships that go beyond those four letters. But I liked that they were succinct.

Categories: me, wedding | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

storytelling part four (classroom fun)

Friday’s heat advisories kept us indoors so we made our own fun. I got down off my soapbox and let the kids do what they wanted. After expanding our construction zone to somehow encompass the entire back half of the classroom they cleaned up and came together ready the write a story.
I encouraged the worst possible story in the history of all stories and they did not disappoint.

(email title)
total global destruction

Well…sort of.

Miss Robynbird told us how proud she was that we were able to make a story without any bloodshed, so much so that today she challenged us to make the most horrifically terrible story possible! We’re talking fire, flood, famine. We’re talking dragons, dinosaurs, witches and sharks. We’re talking destruction of TOTAL GLOBAL PROPORTION!

During the planning process we shouted out things like:
witches potions
dinosaurs
dragons
sharks
villagers
fire

KR-J asked to begin the story, and it went a little something like this:
Once upon a time there was a scary dinosaur and there was a villager. And the villager found the dinosaur.
AO:
And then there was another dinosaur. A dragon came and he blow fire on the grass where the dinosaur was. A witch came from where the villager was. She said, “NO DRAGONS BREATHING FIRE!”
VS:
Another witch found a villager’s house and saw a cloak and put it on then she went to the dragon and the dragon ate her and she “spelled” out of the dragon and found her body again.
RC:
Then another dragon came and the villager…he saw crocodiles…they are by the water…he was trying to be careful by the bridge, but fell in the pond and the crocodile is gonna eat him. Then the villager got out and runned away from the crocodile.
ZB:
Then what happened, there was a shark, and he was bad and ate some people and there were other people and they went on a bridge and the bridge broke and they fell in the water then what happened, was the dinosaur got the people and stomped on them and they was squished.
JH:
More people ran into the forest and into their house and the dragons blowed their house. Then they run into the bridge and they fell into the water and the shark get ’em.
EY:
The dragon and shark…the dragon saw a knight guard…he tried to fight the dragon and he fired the knight guard and eat him.
Miss Robynbird turned to TK: Bring us home.
TK grinned:
Then there was a bridge that was broken and the shark at the broken pieces and a dragon breathed fire on more people and then stepped on them and they were dead. And then he ate them.

Total global destruction was a SUCCESS!

(Teacher’s Note: YBW asked me if any of the parents found this inappropriate. I laughed. These parents absolutely LOVE this stuff. They think these stories are wonderful. I am blessed to have parents with senses of humor. They are blessed to have teachers who encourage creativity and critical thought.)

Categories: education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

storytelling part three (classroom fun)

Thursday was about educating parents a little bit.
Sometimes I worry that they don’t understand why I don’t seem concerned that some of these kids can’t write their own names. Some of these kids can barely recognize their own names.
Guess what. That is OK!
Know why? It’s developmentally appropriate.
I don’t rush reading and writing.
I have a child in my class who can write her name but doesn’t know any of the letters in her name. Please tell me how that is remotely acceptable?
So I stick to my philosophy. Kids learn best through play, through authentic experience. They learn when their brains are developmentally ready to learn. And three and four year old brains (for the most part) are not designed to read and write.
Some of my kids can do both. Some of them can do neither. This is me explaining to parents why either one is going to be just fine.

(email title)
Do you know what we know?

We wrote a story today and guess what!?! There was no bloodshed! Nobody got eaten! No death! No destruction! No mayhem!
And guess what else? It kind of made Miss Robynbird a little bit sad. She realized she kind of likes it when we create a great story and then destroy it. And here’s why…

She doesn’t think we know this, she’s not sure you know this, but we are learning SO much when we write our own stories. (bloodshed and all)

We’re learning parts of speech: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.
(We mostly use the first four, but we’re big fans of conjunctions too.)
We’re learning basic parts of a sentence: subject, action, and sometimes an object. (Isn’t it great when the action is bloodshed?)
We’re touching on things like adverbs and adjectives, we’re exploring the ideas of conjunctions and prepositions.
We’re doing these things because we know every story has to have “subject” and often times we choose something familiar like a princess or a witch. A pronoun is when we say ‘she’ or ‘her’ or ‘they’ instead of ‘the witch’ or ‘the princess’.
Then we will talk about what that subject is doing which is the action.
Oftentimes there is an object, like a dragon, or shark. These can be subjects too, but we don’t really use them that way.
We use the words ‘then’ and ‘and’ a LOT and those are totally conjunctions. That means they hook the parts of sentences or stories together.
Sometimes then is a preposition too.
We’re not yet super awesome at verb tense, or pronoun perfection. We sometimes don’t quite get it exactly right, but we’re working on it, and we’re having SO much fun!

We’re not being told this is what we’re learning, but when we start a story with a queen and then half way through start saying princess, Miss Robynbird and Miss J remind us that there isn’t a princess in our story. This keeps us on track with our subject.
We sometimes forget where the story is taking place, too. We start out in the woods and then try to say that a shark comes. But we remind each other there isn’t any water in the woods for a shark to be.
This is real literacy!
It doesn’t look like elementary school grammar.
It isn’t us deconstructing sentences.
But it really is us learning.
We weren’t sure if you honestly knew that. We weren’t sure if Miss J and Miss Robynbird understood that we realized that.
We just wanted you to know that we know what’s up.
Now that we explained that cool stuff to you, wanna hear our story?

VS:
Once upon a time, a princess comed and a prince comed and a witch comed and and dragon too! And they loved bread so they ateV bread together.
EY:
The prince, and princess, and witch ride on the dragon to Wegmans to get more bread, chocolate chip bread. And they got grapes, and sushi, and broccoli, and tomatoes, then they went back home and ate all that.
DA:
They went to the baseball game and played with all the kids. Then the witch was flying her broom around. And they went to Target on their way home.
RC:
The witch put the princess in jail and they played basketball and after that, some tennis.
ZB:
Then the princess didn’t go to jail, but…what happened was, a big big monster came and the princess trapped the monster. And then the witch, prince, dragon and princess played some more.
SL:
They locked the monster, but he had a key. So, he got out of the trap and he made they breakfast and left. Then he went to Target and said goodbye to Target and go home.

Categories: education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

storytelling part two (classroom fun)

Wednesday’s story looked a bit like this:

(email title)
we tried really hard…but just couldn’t do it

So we tried REALLY REALLY hard to tell a cohesive (this is a big word Miss Robynbird used that kind of means “stays connected”) story today where there is no bloodshed, and nobody gets eaten…but once it got disconnected, she¬†gave to go-ahead to end the story the way we do it best…so here goes:

Miss Robynbird:
Once upon a time there were some children who went for a super long camping trip in the woods. BUT, they were totally safe because nothing scary EVER happened in these woods. This was because there were two VERY special protectors called Miss J and Miss Robynbird who lived in the woods.
Miss J:
When the children got to their campsite, they realized they left their gear at the pond when they stopped to get water. Oh no! So, they had to come up with a plan to build a place stay safe.
(We can’t wait to see what happens, because these kids have mad problem solving skills.)
KR-J:
They builded a tent. Then found lots of wood to make a house. But first they drawed a picture of what the house wanted to look like.
VS:
Then they painted their house and played at the campsite.
EY:
Then they go and find some fishing stuff.
ZB:
And they went to the pond to fish and found their stuff! And that was good because with no support the wood house broke. And then what happened, he build a proper house with support so that it wouldn’t fall. But then it was leaning so they hold it so it wouldn’t fall. And then what happened was the house still leaned.
DA:
They build a new house with straws and bricks and put a window. They paint it. But the construction broke again so they had to do it again with tress and bricks. That’s how they built a new house. A blue house.
AO:
There was a polar bear, he decided to go to sleep in the house. He woke up and had dinner and a snack. The kids saw the bear and they all went in the house to sleep around him.
EY:
Two more polar bears came in the house. Now it was a baby, a Mommy and a Daddy.
(This is when Miss Robynbird and Miss J realized we’d gotten off topic and Miss Robynbird asked TK to do what he does best…he grinned.)
TK:
The brother came. The brother polar bear. And then the Love Monster came. And ate two of the other polar bears.
Miss Robynbird (who had to stop giggling before she could speak): And then protectors of the woods came and told the children to go home.
TK: Miss J is the Love Monster.

So…bears were eaten…but they shouldn’t really have wandered this far south anyway…so they pretty much had it coming.
See! We TOLD you we’re spectacularly good problem solvers!

(Teacher’s Note: The Love Monster comes from a book we read in the classroom called…well…Love Monster.
We’ve just finished a unit on construction in which we learned that¬†architectural drawings must happen before you can build…see how they retain what they learn? It really is so rewarding!)

Categories: education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

storytelling part one (classroom fun)

At the beginning of the school year I started a “game” of writing our own story with the kids in my class. Kind of like playing “telephone” when I was a kid, someone would start the story with “once upon a time…” and then each person would contribute one or two sentences until we had a story.
It was when we were working on the care and keeping of books. My thought process was that if they understood how much hard work went into creating the books they loved, they would be more inclined to take good care of them. This unit of study began with me literally showing them how to handle books and ended with them writing and illustrating their own books.
Over time, we’ll randomly decide to write our own story when we need a quiet but engaging activity…this can happen when I don’t feel like reading a story, but sometimes one of them will suggest it.

When we first started doing writing our own stories, they were a hot hot mess. They were all over the place. The setting jumped around or subjects changed or story lines were completely rewritten as each child had a turn.
But with practice, we slowly began to get better.
With gentle reminders we kept the story on track.
They began to listen to what the child before them said and built from that. They began to create complex sentences. They used the hell out of the words “and” and “then”, but who cares? It’s their story?

This week, we brought storytelling back.
I’m presenting you with a miniseries of the emails I sent to parents each day this week starting on Tuesday and ending on Friday.

(Note: My classroom kids mixed ages from brand new three year olds to four and a half year olds, you will be able to tell the difference based on their language. I have written down their words exactly as they were spoken.)

(email title)
we’re just cool like that

We did something we haven’t done in a really long time…we wrote our own story!
Check it out:
Miss Robynbird started us out:
Once upon a time a queen lived in a castle at the edge of a beautiful forest.
VS:
A witch came. She blew beautiful flowers in the castle.
DA:
A knight have a horsie in the forest.
EY:
The witch locked the queen in a castle with a horrible dragon standing by it with fire in his mouth.
TK:
The dragon breathed fire on the queen then ate the queen up.
JH:
The dragon flowed away.
KR: The knight comes and saves the witch.

We are spectacularly awesome story tellers, no?
Miss Robynbird wonders why it always seems to lead to bloodshed. We don’t actually know why…we just know that’s how we like it!
Miss Robynbird said she wants us to work on writing more stories in which folks (Ha! We think it’s REALLY funny when she says folks!) don’t always end up as dragon food. We’ll try, just to see the look on her face when she sees what we come up with next!

We also started talking a little bit about summer camp and how it will be different from the regular school year. This got us talking about summer and all the cool things summer brings!
Miss Robynbird asked: What’s your favorite part about summer?
DA:
Wearing costumes.
CS:
Cause you get to be a mermaid!
AG:
Summer clothes.
KR:
Going to the park.
MJ:
Big rocket ships.
JK:
Going to the pool.
AO:
Riding my big wheel and going to the pool.
JH:
Going to the beach!
EY:
Me and Mommy going to the pool with Daddy and my brudder and having pizza.
VS:
Having a picnic with Mommy, Daddy and Licity.
CC: Um…um…pool!
TK:
Playing in the sprinkler!
SL:
Go to the pool and wear my goggles!
Miss L:(substitute teacher this day)
Going to the park with my friends.
Miss Robynbird:
Cookouts with friends and family.

Then we started talking more about summer things…
VS: I like weddings!
AG: Me too!
EY: Me too!
VS: I’m going to a wedding!
CS: Me too!
Miss Robynbird: Me too!
CS: Cause you’re gonna marry YBW, right?
Miss Robynbird: Yes, I am.
TK: But Miss Robynbird, I want to marry you.
Miss Robynbird: TK, that’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me, thank you.
Then everybody wanted to marry Miss Robynbird, except for CS who wants to marry YBW. And EY who wants to marry (her big brudder) J, and JH who wants to marry T (also her big brother).
We’re just cool like that…we use queens for dragon food and dig all kinds of summer stuff…and as it turns out, we like weddings.

Categories: education | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

my wonky head and Grinch-y heart

When I woke this morning I knew it was going to be a wonky head day. Not really bad, just that weird “full” feeling from the swelling and moderate pain behind my right eye.
Then I got the news my co-teacher wasn’t coming in today after I already got there, only tentatively ready to start my day. So I sucked it up and quickly made a new plan about how it would play out when the kids finally came to school.

In the midst of that madness, I saw an email from YBW to me and the darling rector of the church we’ve been visiting and where we’re getting hitched.
This is what it said:

Hi A,
I know that you had said that you needed to be told “yes I want to be married” in some fashion or another. So this is me letting you know that…
Yes, I want to marry Robynbird.
I know Robynbird has her stuff together, and I’ll be getting my stuff as well.
I think I can speak for both of us that we really do look forward to working with you.
Thanks,
–YBW

How precious is this man!?!
Reading these words made my Grinch-y heart grow three sizes today!

I know he wants to marry me…we’ve talked about it. We picked a date and a venue and a ring. He stood bravely and spoke eloquently in front of people who ridiculed him during his formative years and asked me to be his wife. We’re actively planning a wedding. But something about seeing it actually written down for someone else was special to me.

Trying on my shoes made it feel real. Reading his words made if feel legit. (Must remember adult vocabulary skills.)

Anyway, my head is still wonky. Meds, an icepack, and dinner helped…it’s only 6:30, but I’m toying with the idea of going to bed to see if it makes the last little bit of difference. Stupid swollen brain…I’m so over this ridiculousness. (Wow. I sound like a petulant child.)
That’s OK though, YBW still wants to marry me. (Yeah, I giggled when I wrote that…what’s it to ya?)

Categories: love | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

these shoes were made for walkin’ (down the aisle)

There was a box on my front porch when I got home.
In that box there are three more boxes.
In those boxes are shoes.

SHOES FOR THE WEDDING!!!
OHMYGODIMSOEXCITEDICANHARDLYSTANDMYSELF!!!

I was home alone with this box of shoes.
I pranced, skipped, hopped, danced, ran, jumped, and “foot popped” in my perfect shoes. I sent photos to Thing 1 and Thing 2. I sent photos to Sundance. Nobody responded.
I pranced around a little bit more and called Thing 2. Voicemail. UGH!
Little bit of James Brown inspired foot work and called Sundance. Voicemail. COME ON!
Little hop, skip and a jump and called Thing 1…”Hi Momma.” (Success!)

YBW came home right as I was getting off the phone with Thing 1 and he started opening the box. I said: I want you to see mine last.
I showed him Thing 1’s classic pumps. She has really weird looking toes and refuses to wear open-toed shoes, which really limits her choices. These Badgley Mischka’s are FIERCE! (Who let Stacy London up in here?)
20150529_171133
They’re going to be fuchsia.

Thing 2’s Pelle Moda shoes are a bit stripper-ish but so very, very Thing 2.
20150529_170944
They’re going to be fuchsia.

These are my shoes. They’re going to be navy even though there is a little “something blue” on the bottom.
20150529_17244220150529_17255920150529_17140120150529_171413

I was so excited to show YBW that I was literally panting!
I pointed at my feet and said: These make it real! Not this!(pointing at my ring) These! I’m going to marry the most perfect boy in the most perfect shoes and it’s going to be the most perfect day ever!

He said he’s never seen me so excited in all the years he’s known me. He just watched me with this great big smile on his face. (While I literally grabbed him by his upper arms and shook him while I was panting and squealing.) That man absolutely loves me. He must, I totally told him my shoes are better than my diamond. Luckily he knows me well enough to know what I mean.

Thanks, UPS man, for coming to my house today! SUPER SMILEY Robynbird!

Categories: wedding | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What “should” it be?

I’m going to have to swear off social media for a few days.
I keep seeing my friends with children the same age as Thing 2, children the same age as Thing 2 I’m “friends” with posting about graduation and it’s breaking my heart.
I’m excited and proud for my friends who share their pride and joy about this important milestone. I’m excited for these kids who count down the moments until they’re “free”. (Just stay in high school a bit longer, y’all, the real world can sometimes suck balls.)

I should be doing the same kind of sharing. I should be expressing my pride and joy that Thing 2 is graduating from high school. She should be sharing this roller coaster ride that her peers are on.
Should.
Should is a real bitch of a word. It’s mean and hateful.

I trusted Thing 2 enough to make the choice to get her high school equivalent. She trusted that choice. She appears to have no regrets. I trust that, too.

Graduation isn’t for the graduate.
Graduation is for the parents.

Graduation is for this particular Mommy.

The day Thing 1 graduated was of profound importance to me. I have never been more moved in my adult life as I was that day. To watch my baby take that ceremonial walk was more powerful than I can put into words.
Since that day, I’ve waited to experience similar feelings for Thing 2. My disappointment is bigger than I realized.
I’m not disappointed in her.
I’m disappointed to miss out on that moment with and for her, those feelings about her.

I believe witnessing your child’s graduation is a rite of passage for a parent in way a child can never understand the importance of. A sense of closure as well as a new beginning.
I’m wondering how I’ll experience that with Thing 2. What will that look like? Because it won’t look like a blue cap and gown at Colonial Life Arena in a few days time.

Perhaps it will surprise me when I least expect it.
But that frightens me! If it happens when I least expect it, how will I know the weight and magnitude? How will I know it if I’m not expecting it?
What does a rite of passage look like if it’s unexpected?

I can’t answer these questions.
I can only love my girl like I always have. I’m going to keep trusting her choices. I’m going to trust that we’ll experience our own particular rite of passage and it will fill me with equal amounts of awe and pride and never-ending unconditional love.

I celebrate with my friends in theory…somewhere in my deep in heart. I just can’t do it with photos and memories and hashtags and the like. It’s too painful.
Is that selfish? Or petty? Or simple self-preservation?
Dunno. Don’t care.
Just know I can’t look at other people’s babies in caps and gowns right now.

Thing 2 sometimes reads my words…so these are specifically for her:
You’re savvy enough to know this isn’t about you so I hope it isn’t hurtful for you to read. Your choices are yours to make. I support your right to make choices. I have faith in your ability to make mostly good ones. You are fearfully and wonderfully made, and I love you more than the moon and the stars.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

how a swollen brain can lighten the load

I’ve had a migraine since the day after my birthday. My birthday was the twelfth of this month. The first day I woke without migraine symptoms was Saturday. Saturday was the twenty-third. So for a solid ten days I suffered a migraine.
I’ve experienced migraines since I was too young to say anything other than ‘my tongue is funny’ and then burst into tears holding my head. (One of my auras is that my tongue and lips go numb.) So I’m pretty adept at dealing with the nausea, light and sound sensitivity, and brain crushing pain. I’ve been on pretty much any over the counter med you can think of and prescription meds from imitrex to percocet.

In addition to this migraine, I had swelling in my brain. (Yes, I know this is a migraine symptom, but for some reason the neurologist assured me it was not related.) Stroke runs in my family. My grandmother dropped dead of an aneurysm in her mid fifties. So I have been…a bit concerned about my brain.
I’m taking toradol for the swelling now. (God, it makes me so nauseous!) I’m trying topamax for the first time. (Arrivederci, my beloved Nectar of the Gods. Diet DP tastes like…well I can’t describe it…but it’s absolutely foul.)

I refused to go down the road paved with “what if”…but I do see the road there…and it makes me anxious. This is the only brain I’m ever going to have. I need it! I need to keep it happy and healthy and definitively unswollen(!), thank you very much!
I’m being mindful about taking good care of my brain. Paying attention to stress and keeping my body healthy so my brain can be healthier.
I’m reminded of Dennis from The Python’s Holy Grail, I’m thirty seven! I’m not old!
I keep thinking, I’m forty four! I’m not old!
I’m about to marry the man I waited my whole life to find. I need to be as healthy as humanly possible! My brain has to get it together and remain the proper size so I can have a wonderful rest-of-my-(REALLY-FREAKING-LONG)-life!

I suggested to YBW I leave my job at the end of summer when “summer camp” is over and this group of children move on to their “PreK” class when “school” starts in the Fall. I suggested this rather randomly, out of the blue when we were otherwise engaged in tedious home improvement tasks in our kitchen with our backs to each other listening to the Nats game on the TV in the next room. Turns out that was exactly what we needed to have that pretty serious conversation. He felt pretty strongly that if the last two weeks were an indication of the way the job impacts my health it was time to move along.
I’ve really not been sick since we’ve been together. I think it scared him a little. I know it scared me, and I’ve lived through ever single one of my sicknesses.

I wrote my resignation letter yesterday and when I signed my name the weight that lifted from my chest surprised me. It was bigger than I had ever realized. I’ve needed to lighten this load for so long.
I’ve told my co-teacher. She cried. I’ve told some other teachers, a couple of parents. I told the assistant director. My director is on her honeymoon. She and I will have a conversation when she returns.

I believe I made the best choice for me. For my good health. For my family. And even for the families of the children I teach. I can be with them until they would leave me anyway. (As long as my brain holds out.)
I feel peaceful in my decision.
I feel my body figuring out how to heal itself.
My brain and I have spent every single moment of the last forty four years together we need to keep up the good work.

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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