Thursday, April 30, 2020

May Day!

It's the end of the month and we celebrated another birthday during this pandemic. We held up our signs to the birthday boy on his balcony and chatted for a about 30 minutes. No hugs, no feast together but just happy to be in each other's presence. Now we are ready for May Day! I can't believe it's May but there you have it.

May 1st celebrates the changing of seasons, the ushering in of Springtime and dates back to the ancient Celts and their honoring of Beltane, which divides the year in half. I remember May Pole dancing taking place on this day in my small German town in Minnesota. 

{Beltane source}
May 1st is also a day for worker's rights starting in the year 1886 when the 8-hour work day was declared. On this day 300,000 workers took to the streets, leaving their jobs, striking for better conditions. The Haymarket riot took place just 2 days later in Chicago in a fight between workers and police. This was a very significant time for workers to gain some control over their work environment and lives.  Grover Cleveland eventually moved Labor Day, the official holiday to celebrate workers to September

For me May 1st is all about the May Baskets which celebrate Spring and friendship.  I've written several posts about it in other years because I love the message of the holiday. I have literally let the day go past a few times because I'm busy with work and this year I have nothing BUT time so we are creating beautiful baskets and will be delivering some time tomorrow.  We made ours out of large craft paper folded like a big envelope and in the morning Groovy Girl and I will pop a big batch of popcorn to fill the envelope baskets and add some wrapped chocolate treats as well. 


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Happy Earth Day!

The world is still sheltering down, trying to stay safe from Covid-19 yet climate change is still the biggest issue we need to face head on. 50 years ago today people showed up and proclaimed their concern over environmental problems at the time. Read this article from The Hill which talks about how we can get more people mobilized around climate change. Most of us are together in our earnestness to #StaySafeatHome and the same can happen with climate change. There are many Earth Day activities taking place around the world usually and this year is different as you will have to find ways to celebrate solo. The Earth Day organization has a live event happening as we speak until 8pm tonight with many other ways to get involved included on their website and the  National Parks Service has many suggestions.

I think many people at home have new skills emerging which can help our connection to the earth. I see lots of posts on social media about baking bread, creating meals together, lots of walks, more downtime together and maybe some of those new learned habits will carry over.  If people are willing to hunker down to stay healthy this potentially could lead to be as concerned over the environment. What new environmental crisis will follow? Instead of just waiting idly by for it to hit us; now is the time to get on board.  I know I will talk a walk today in one of our many local nature centers. I'm going to follow along with the Live event on the Earth Day website and just try to be more informed. I want to go look at plants to start gardening but I have many seed packets leftover from previous years and I'm going to plant those first. I'll get to the greenhouse at some point but I really am trying to stay home as much as possible.  Find a way to celebrate with family and friends even just by discussing it. Keeping that awareness alive is most important right now. Science matters.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Moving forward to keep sane

Welcome to the new normal. Just about a month ago my Spring Break started with a small gathering of teachers at a local bar.  We talked about our conferences, the virus, the book fair, what fun things we were going to do with our free time over Spring Break.  One person said "maybe we'll have a week or two off to keep the virus at bay." I'd like to take that day back and appreciate that moment just a bit more. I would have hugged everyone at the table as we left that night because the fun things we had planned to do together over our break never materialized. We were asked as a state to not gather and then pretty quickly our restaurants, breweries, and bars closed except for take-out and while we were still "relaxing" we were all worried how far this would go.

That reality was announced yesterday when our governor closed schools for the remainder of the year. Tears, heartbreak, and anger are mixed with the mixed blessing of better safe than sick. I miss my students but I can be happy at home because I like my own time. I can fill it with all kinds of activity. I read, cook and bake, put together lessons for my students, relax with my two dogs, and I can watch the birds and other wild things in my backyard for a good long time. I know my daughter feels robbed though as this IS her senior year. I feel robbed of experiencing that with her. We had talked about prom dress shopping but hadn't actually started, we have beautiful grad announcements on our table, we have hopes for a final dance recital to culminate her years of dance and a solo to perform one last time. I cried when our governor said the words yet we've moved on already. As May approaches we may fall back into grief and by that time we may be starting to get sick of each other.

As it is now we seem to be forging ahead.  Being around my husband 27/7 is annoying somedays but we work it out. I love my own quiet time and he is extremely active. He worked long hours at the theatre, often late with rehearsals so I've always had lots of space. Lucky for me he is still going for long runs, spending time at the theatre- volunteering his time with the hope that theatre will begin again in June or July, and works outside when he can. He is filled with projects because he isn't good at sitting still. I start my day with yoga most days and have done a lot of deep cleaning of my house, yet I have no problem stretching out in a chair reading for a few hours or watching Anne w/ and E with Groovy Girl. Eating a fair amount of dark chocolate also helps.

I've read 6 books in the time we've been sheltering at home. All of them good, some of them amazing reads. I've zoomed with students, teachers, and had a few happy hours/dinner hours with friends and family.  I've watched quite a few shows and movies.


The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates: excellent look at The Underground Railroad. Coates has an amazing writer voice.
The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald: 800+ pages of excellent writing about a Canadian family living on an Army Base with many twists and turns.
Love Among the Ruins by Robert Clark: True love for two teenagers in 1968.  William is afraid of the turns the world will take after Robert Kennedy is killed and the riots during the Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Goodnight, Beautiful by Dorothy Koomson: Story of Malvolio and Nova in London as they navigate friendship and love in the adult world.
Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy: Wow!  I read this one in two days because I just had to know what happened to the children. My husband and daughter both read it before me so this morning we were able to talk about the characters and Meloy's airtight writing.

I'm also reading Moving Target by Christina Diaz Gonzalez (great adventure in Rome) and Maximum Ride by James Patterson (group of unusual kids with out-of-this-world skills) to 4th and 6th grade students through videos posted to Google Classroom.

Little Fires Everywhere, Sex Education, Harlan Coban's The Stranger, The Disappearance of Madeleine McCann, and recently discovered Kim's Convenience.  We also had a list of older movies we wanted Groovy Girl to see and we've made it through a few: Pretty Woman, Something about Mary, The Talented Mr. Ripley were all good to watch.

She particularly loved Pretty Woman and we were thrilled by Mr. Ripley. I'd avoided that movie years ago because I thought it was too creepy (as is The Stranger) and it was but it's easier to take when we're all there together which really sums up this pandemic. We have to be better together even though we are apart. I'm quite angry with Trump for not taking this serious right away because for me that's what it means to be president; to see a little into the future and take steps to contain and control. He didn't do that. I'm happy to have my family around me as we weather this crisis. I'll miss being physically with my son' for his 25th birthday, I missed my trip to Guatemala,  and many other important moments and I'll do all this to keep people safe.  I'm not going to cry about my freedom or what should have been. I just need to keep moving us forward.

What are you doing to keep sane?

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Poetry Thursday, it is Thursday, right?


The weather is all over the place. Today it is sunny and then snowing, and also windy.  While we are learning at home I would like it to be Spring warm weather not this all-over-the-radar coldness.  It is great to be outside as you work on school work and I've video taped reading books outside.  It's lovely. Today not so much but I'm getting into a groovy with school work.  Are we in it for the long haul-all the way through May?  I don't know but I am mentally preparing myself.  Browsing through a poetry book this morning I found one of my favorite Springtime poems from Langston Hughes.

April Rain Song

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head
  with silent liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain  makes running pools in the gutter.  
The rain plays a little sleep-song
  on our roof at night-

And I love the rain.

Langston Hughes

I love it because it's positive and simple. I wish I could hear Langston read it and I did look and I found this clip of him reading his famous "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and "I, too" : his voice reverberates with strength. 

I'm reading Love among the ruins by Robert Clark
I'm watching Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist on Hulu and we watched Pixar/Disney's new movie, Onward, with Groovy Girl last night. We had popcorn and everything and the movie was very good. She and her dad built a Rube Goldberg machine for one of her Learning @Home assignments.  She is assembling the video they took when they finally got it to work. It was super cool involving one of our dogs, many cardboard pipes, a candle, two rooms of our house, a marble, and a glass of water.  There is learning happening here.  

Friday, April 3, 2020

Looking for hope

Some days I feel like I am crushing this online learning "thing" with my own home routine but some days it looks a lot like hell. I know many of you are feeling this way also. As a teacher that act of going off to work Monday - Friday kept most every day compacted with very specific roles. I did often bring work home to get a large project finished but in this new pandemic world my work day is often very mixed in with my home life which was fairly active but quiet. I feel like I have dozens of balls in the air and I'm multitasking too much. Some of my questions are: am I spending too much time on school work, how can I do the school work more efficiently, and how do I figure out new technologies to make this flow?  I wonder about starting a book club online via Google Classroom for students in upper elementary to access when they want, will they access it?  I don't want to be doing extra work and have students already engaged with too much through their classroom teachers, maker space challenges put out by our district, and activities from other special teams. Plus I have a few special students that I am constantly worrying about...

{Online dance class T-Th}
It helps when I start most days with a little bit of yoga and getting dressed.  So Monday-Friday I am going to just get that on my calendar and do it.  And then I want to set up a school day that I can deal with mixed in with taking care of my family. My husband and his crew were all laid off from our community theatre and so he is often bouncing around the house, moving from project to project, and he has Zoom meetings which is two steps above the tech chain for him so I invariably have to help him get on and he has to use my MacBook Air b/c his old MacBook is too old for Zoom.

My daughter, our beloved Groovy Girl, has already emotionally had a tough year and then this happens! Like for real, it is too much for her to bear.  She's had a week of online dance classes that went okay but I honestly don't think she is getting much schoolwork done. For someone suffering from anxiety or depression this is major ordeal.  I thought she would love it but she is spending too much time in her bed bemoaning the loss of her senior year.  We are working with her on creating a schedule for herself and breaking the day up into manageable pieces. How is this all working for you? From preschoolers to teenagers to college students this pandemic will have such long lasting affects for our children going beyond who gets it and who doesn't.

Good food is a huge draw in our family so I made her a Dutch Baby Pancake to cheer her spirits and it did for about one hour.

I share with you today a lovely poem by the amazing poet Mary Oliver:

“Wild Geese”

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things. ~Mary Oliver
I love her writing and hope this poem can cheer you even for an hour or two. We will get through this together and we will be smarter for what we've learned. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Happy April!

April is National Poetry Month and National School Library Month, two important events in the life of a school library. A little strange that all libraries are closed right now. I love sharing poetry with kids especially silly ones like Kenn Nesbitt's Poetry4kids website.  He has several poetry books out and his website offers up many poetry categories for you to click on. Share some this month with your kids while you are at home. Start the day or end the day with a funny poem and then have them create their own. I have magnetic words at school that kids love to rearrange into unique poems. Bring poetry to life and let it be silly and serious.

Today We Had Some Weather

 we had some weather
like I’ve never seen before,
so I pulled on my galoshes
and I headed out the door.
It sprinkled, first so lightly,
it could easily be mist.
A tornado then came dancing by,
it swung and did the twist.
The fogbanks opened up their vaults
and let out all their fogs,
and the dog pound took a pounding;
it was raining cats and dogs.
It started raining buckets,
then the rain came down in sheets.
I had never seen so many
sheets and buckets in the streets.
I’d planned to watch the weather
and, though gallantly I tried,
when it started hailing taxis
I gave up and went inside.
 — Kenn Nesbitt
This poem reminded me of our weather the other night when we had a tornado touch down. We are still all staying at home.  I am finding a good balance of school work, deep cleaning the most cluttered pockets of my house, reading, and meeting friends on Zoom for happy hour. Every day is different, which is a lot like school for me, and yesterday I read for too long on the sofa. I'm almost done with the 800 page The way the crow flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald-I get to a certain point in a book where I am just pulled in and literally can't stop. Normally during school hours it would take me many afternoons after school to finish this book but as our quarantine life holds I will finish it within a week. Today I woke and new I need to do some yoga (thank you Down Dog app) because my body ached from sitting curled up reading. Also I'm not going to lie; I love, love, love sleeping in.  It is glorious. It's good to find the positive.
What's keeping you fueled this week?