Friday, September 23, 2011

Two Tomatoes

When you put two teachers together, they are bound to eventually talk about education and teaching in some form or another. But those conversations are even better when it is when you get to talk about what makes you excited about the field.

I am beginning to work on my thesis project and wanted to borrow a book from my friend. When I picked it up from her house, she asked me about my project and how it relates to the book I was borrowing. She was a great listener and could not agree more about the importance of developing a rich vocabulary with children of the toddler/preschool group to help them have better success in reading comprehension later down the road. Then my friend showed me a booklet that was sent home with her daughter who just started Kindergarden. It was about the school's approach to teaching handwriting that focuses on directionality in a kid friendly way using picture cues for the lines (sky, grass, ground, and worm levels). I asked her if she would mind if I flipped through it, commenting that I knew I was being such a teacher dork. She laughed and said not at all. Got to love those envigorating teacher conversations!

As we were having these conversations hanging on the door knob, her kids bounced into the living room to greet me. Little Bear regailed her story about riding her bike without her training wheels for the first time, complete with twirling kicks and spins (in the story telling, not the bike riding). She was quiet proud, as she should be! I loved how both of her parents beamed with pride, especially because their daughter was fully owning up to her accomplishments and efforts.

Pickle was just looking up at me with all smiles and my friend commented, "Someone is in love." He then told me about his visit with his neighbor that afternoon. She gave both of the kids three tomatoes and said to be sure to share. He held out the smallest of his three and said, "Here, Miss Jamie, I'm going to share it with you." My friend mouthed, "You might want to wash that when you get home, but you don't have to eat it." It was sufficiently covered in that kid-feel-coating from having been carried all around with him that day. Nice and warm with a slight, sticky tackiness on the surface. I smiled and took his gift as it melted my heart.

Then his sister burst into the scene and said that those were her tomatoes. It's funny how kids know that stuff. My friend asked Pickle to give Little Bear her tomatoes and fished out his true three from the bag without missing a beat. Then Pickle gave me another tiny tomato. As I was returning Little Bear's tomato, she told me to keep it because her neighbor did say to share. I thanked them both for their generocity and said good-bye.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Shack

A couple of friends recommended the book, The Shack. A few found it helpful to read as a way to understand why the bad things in life happen. I was curious about the book long before my divorce and journey with infertility with my ex. But as my life was coming apart, I put it higher on my list of books to read. I have to admit that it took me well over a year to read the book. Part of it was being busy with school and not having as much time for fun reading. The other part is because it took me a while to let go and give into it. My expectations may have been set too high and I didn't find it gripping and kept waiting for the moment in the book that everything would suddenly and neatly fall into place. I could identify with Mack's frustration in trying to wrap my brain around what the book was trying to share.

So that is when I slowed it down and just read a little at a time. I decided to take whatever it was that I was going to take away from the book. First, it seems that when God gave people free will that it gave people the responsibility of choice. On some level there needs to be an acceptance of that freedom and that sadly not everyone uses it responsibly. Then somehow God tries to use it for good in someway. Second, forgiveness is not forgetting, but letting go of the hurt it causes you. Give it up to God to let Him settle the matter. Third, it is important to remember to keep living your life and that means being present and in the moment. If you find yourself lost in grief or anger, then it takes you out of the game and diminishes your experiences. You may not be appreciating all that life is trying to offer or picking up on important messages to help guide your actions for a greater purpose. Keep finding the joy and meaning in life everyday while also being thankful for it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Beads Strung with Care

As I look over at the necklace sitting on my dresser, it reminds me of a wonderful visit with my friend Christine near my hometown. A few weeks ago, I went home to spend some time with my parents before the fall semester began. And since I was in the neighborhood, I asked my friend if she would be up for a visit since I hadn't seen her since Christmas.

She works part-time from home and has two children, a four-year-old girl and a two-year-old boy, and expecting one on the way. We hung out with her kids as we talked. Her daughter asked a few times if she could take out the beading kit she got for her birthday. After fair warning that she would have to share with her brother, she raced upstairs to get the kit and Chris got a memory game for her son to play with as we sat around the coffee table.

We continued our conversation, stringing necklaces with Chris's kids (She was of course carefully supervising her kids with the small pieces and helping when necessary.). I made her daughter a necklace as she worked on a bracelet. For her second project, she made me a necklace. Chris and I helped her to sound out the letters in my name and then she added more beads as she saw fit. When her daughter was almost done, she asked me if I would mind having an orange bead. I said of course not. Chris asked her why the question about the orange bead. Her response, "Well, orange is a boy color." Chris and I had to laugh and then Chris told her that orange can be a boy color or a girl color. She asked her daughter about one of the dresses she has in her closet that is orange to dispel the myth. Her daughter also invited me to come back and visit at Christmastime so that I could go with them to Pettiti's Garden Center and see the talking tree.

Chris's son was a little slow to warm up because it takes him a little while to wake up from his nap to be ready to play. But as the afternoon continued, he joined in the play in helping his mom to string beads for a bracelet. He also enjoyed toting around his favorite garbage truck and arranging the memory picture cards.

Then as the weekend was approaching, I just kept getting a feeling like I should give Chris a call. I once read that if you keep thinking about a person, then you should get in touch with them. Then I got an email from my friend happily announcing the birth of her third child, a baby girl. (Long story short--she left her cell phone at home in the mix of going to the hospital.) I took that as a sign that I should call her the next day and was only expecting to leave a voicemail to tell her my congratulations. As it turns out, Chris picked up the call and was happy to talk because her newborn was sleeping, her husband was at home with the two other kids. At the moment, she was a bit bored sitting in the hospital and welcomed the call and we are gabbers, so it worked out well.

After Chris told me about her birth story and how the rest of the hospital visit was going, I decided to share with her how much our last visit meant to me. I started to get a little choked up and she asked if I was okay. I told her that it was happy tears and thanked her for sharing her time with me and also spending it with her children. I was grateful for sharing in a lovely, carefree afternoon. I was very touched with her daughter's kindness in giving me the necklace and her kids were very sweet in how they played with each other. Chris said you're welcome and thanked me. She said that her kids were looking forward to me coming all day. And whenever they see a map that has Pittsburgh labeled on it, they say, "Pittsburgh, that is where Jamie is!" It's fun and meaningful to be seen as someone special in the eyes of a child.