27 April 2012

Friday Find

I don't have a lot to post this evening. It was date night, and I now have little time before my wakefulness expires. My husband took me for a nice drive and dinner while our daughter spent time at her Tae Kwon Do studio for class and a party of sorts. If you haven't thought about getting your child involved in martial arts instruction, I would like to encourage you to consider it. The school my child attends is really growing and is led by a wonderful woman. I have seen Abby grow in so many ways since she enrolled there. Her confidence has grown. She finds joy in just being herself. The exercise aspect is also really great.

Since we have returned from the out-of-the-house portion of date night, I have had the chance to do a little net browsing. I was curious about homemade salad dressing recipes, and I happened upon this blog: Simple Bites. I'm impressed. There are a lot of great articles...including one about homemade salad dressings. Predominantly about cooking, this site has many tasty-looking recipes and tips for saving money while preserving greatness in your food. I am looking forward to many return visits to it--especially given my fixation with recipe reading.

Now it is time for me to focus my attention back on my date so that we can wrap up our lovely evening together. Thanks for reading!

26 April 2012

Things of Beauty in this World

Tonight I am feeling rather drowsy and not quite motivated to write, so I thought I would take some time to offer up my appreciation for things that bring me joy. A little focus on gratitude will set me up nicely to drift into peaceful sleep.

Here is the Baker's Dozen-length list of Things that I am Grateful for This Evening:

* Family - Had a really nice dinner with my mom and daughter...good conversation with two of my favorite girls. I always feel better after time spent with them...and any other family member, for that matter. I feel incredibly fortunate to have all of the people who populate my immediate and extended family in my life.
* My husband - Technically, he is in the family category, too, but I think he merits his own line. He often goes the extra mile to remind me that I am loved completely and without conditions. I'm blessed to have such an awesome partner.
* Rain - From sprinkly showers to pounding downpours, I love it in all of its forms. I love, too, that I can snuggle under a blanket and watch it just wash down through the streetlight beams after dark.
* Giggling - Abby and I did our fair share of this again this evening. She has begun to cultivate a giggle snort to emulate me when I really get going. I'm touched to know that she finds such a silly thing to be endearing.
* My faith - I think it has grown more in the past year. I think I, too, have grown into it more. I have enjoyed many conversations recently that have happened because I have opened myself to more faith exploration.
* Music - I need to turn some on. I have been sitting here with just the soundtrack of the fishtank filter keeping me company for the past hour...oh, and fingers-tapping-on-keys. My favorites for writing time: Yo Yo Ma, Chris Thile, Mumford and Sons, and David Byrne.
* Words - I love to play around with them and make up my own. And I won't give it much space here, but there is one thing I read about words that disturbed me today. It's shared on my Facebook page. You can head over there to read about it. I may address it in a future post, but this one is to be mostly on the positive side.
* Chocolate - I love the stuff...by itself and mixed with many other things. My most recent chocolate fix came from having popcorn with M & Ms the other night. Mmmmm...
* Coffee - It's rare that you'll find me without a cup of coffee in hand. I'm trying to incorporate more conscientious choices into my coffee buying habits. The new coffee place in town started selling organic, fair trade coffee. I was very happy about that and hope they start working in shade-grown varieties, too.
* Books - So many...so little time. Right now, light reading is on my mind. I have mostly been on a murder-mysery kick, a la James Patterson. I need to branch out into some other light reads. I will have brain power for the heavier, thougtier (see, I told you I like to make up words) stuff in the summertime.
* Houseplants - I may not know their names, but I love them anyway. I have this lovely one on top of my bookshelf that has runners that just hang long and lush and full of leaves. I love green-ness.
* Recipes - I have a slight fixation with recipe reading. Not sure what it is about recipes, but I just love to pore over them and dream of the food they will become. Food ought to have made the list. It is one of the things I love to distraction (really, some days I just sort of exist and dream between meals about what I will be munching on next...).
* My job - I am grateful to have one...even on the less tolerable days. I have the good fortune of being a teacher. I get to spend my days talking to and challenging children to take a look at the world through a different lens. I like to coax them into unfamiliar ways of thinking and to look at familiar things from another perspective. I also have the privilege of working with some great people with excellent ideas. I love the challenge that they offer me as a professional to constantly grow and change and make my instructional practices and decisions all about what's good for kids.

What makes you happy? What in your life could you include on your own gratitude list? This was a fun exercise that I will likely repeat again. For now, though, this is about all I can muster. The eyelids are heavy--I think I need to surrender to sleep.

25 April 2012

How Doth the Little Busy Bee...

In honor of National Poetry Month, I wanted to post one that speaks about my frame of mind today. Here it is:

How Doth the Little Busy Bee...by Isaac Watts

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

How skilfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

In works of labor or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.

In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

I know that lots of people are busy. I just feel extra busy right now. I think this feeling is related to a large dose of good intentions and a somewhat mental inability to say no. (I'm getting better, though, at saying 'no,' that is.)

I have myself involved in no less than two church projects, planning a field trip, running a reading competition, building an elementary school honor society, and pulling together the many loose ends that need to be tied up and tucked away before the end of the school year. And why am I writing about this? Well, I had a busy night, which is what brought these thoughts to the forefront of my mind. From early this morning, my feet hit the ground running and did not stop until late in the evening. (Huh, incidentally, "Late in the Evening" is one of my favorite Paul Simon songs, but I digress.) 

This is not a complaint; it's just a fact of my life right now. I teach, so my day is full of the regular demands of instruction in addition to the extra things that have crept in. Today, that extra thing was Reading Competition Team practice (which I will lather-rinse-repeat tomorrow, too), which took place after school. I have a group of almost forty children, half of whom practice on Wednesday and half on Thursday. They're reading books from an official list, and they'll compete on small teams against one another to answer questions about the books they have read from the list. It is a lot of fun, and I am glad I have taken it on. Anything that sparks a love of reading and experiencing new literature in a child is good in my book. With that being said, I am turning my question of the evening over to you, reader. I would love it if you would respond and leave a comment about what book or books you think would populate the list of essential literature for upper elementary kids to read. What books are must reads for the 9-11-year-old set? I already know that Judy Blume is on that list. Wow me with a different, unique suggestion if you have a chance. I would love to hear from you. 

I'm signing off of this somewhat shortened post. I need to gather as many z's as I can so that I can meet tomorrow's to-do list with enough gumption to give a good one-two punch to a few of the items on there!

24 April 2012

Back from the Beyond

This poor little blog has been choking and sputtering for nearly four years since I started it. When I originally started, I had tagged it with a little line about finally getting around to doing something I always wanted to do...and then I really didn't do it. Common theme with me, really. Well, I am really ready to change that, and I am challenging myself to post every day for the next thirty in order to form the writing habit. From there, who knows where I will go? There are novels simmering away in my mind, and I would really like to see them actually boil over onto the page. If I can form this writing habit, perhaps I will make this other something I always wanted to do happen, too.

Now, who is going to want to read this? This self-indulgent, solipsistic navel-gazing? The plan  is really not to spend too much time navel-gazing and to engage in meaningful conversation (even if it's just with myself) about the things that matter on each particular day. Today, the topic on my mind is spending quality time with my child. I am a semi-ashamed-to-admit-it-workaholic. I enjoy my work and am pretty good at what I do, but I know that these young years of excitement and wonder with my daughter are not going to last much longer. Soon, "Mom come over here and watch this!" is going to be replaced by "Not now, mom, can't you see I'm (insert more important teenage activity here)." I don't want to look back and think 'What was so important that I allowed myself to miss all of this?' So I'm stopping. I'm stopping the missing and starting to be more in the moment with my awesomewonderfulsillysweetimaginative kid. She hit the decade mark just a month and a half ago. I've already seen her inner-tween poking it's wily head out every now and again. I want to know and enjoy this part of her better before that metamorphosis comes to fruition.

Tonight, we wasted enjoyed an hour on the couch just being silly and laughing. We were talking baby talk and then pretending to be confused over what the other said. It just got more and more ridiculous as each minute ticked by, and pretty soon we were both laughing so hard that we couldn't even remember what got us started laughing in the first place. Probably some stab at toilet humor...yes, we're sophisticated here. When all was said and done, and I was rubbing my aching sides and seeking a drink of water to quench my laughter-parched throat, it struck me just how important that time was. These hints have been coming at me with more volume and frequency over the past few weeks, but it took the anvil to my head of just laughing on the couch to make me see that the limited time I have with this little person is quickly sliding through my fingers. 

So, here we are. It's now four hours after that epiphanic giggle-fest, and I started dreaming up and scheming ways that I can squeeze every last ounce of enjoyment into the minutes, hours, days, and months I have with her. Mind you, I realize that I yet have years with this human being as part of my life, and I have no doubt that we're going to be close despite differences in opinion over dress, dating, and the like. I know that our relationship will evolve and change in many ways over the course of our lives and that we'll learn many things from one another. I just know that I have to start enjoying her right now and this is the key to learning how to appreciate the joy that is a part of my life each day. 

Now that I have poured all of that out, I have something to share...two somethings, actually. First is this lovely blog that I stumbled upon in my brainstorming:
Homemade Kids - I have explored a page full of writing and am hooked. 
50 Things to Do Before You're 11 & 3/4 - This list is fantastic. The idea originated in the UK and was based on a National Trust report that cited a decline in children's time spent outdoors and the consequences of this decline. 
This is where I will be starting in my mission for more quality time. My daughter and I already began exploring the 50 Things site and have logged information about some of our adventures. 

To anyone who reads this post and has children or good ideas about spending quality time with loved ones, I would love to hear from you about your ideas. If you have any websites to suggest, please do that, as well. I am really looking forward to getting this conversation started. I will be checking back in tomorrow with the next thought that, like a pebble, is making ripples in my mind.