Saturday, June 26, 2010

New Life

We recently made a new addition to our family in the form of a puppy named Ellie. I was very nervous to add another dog to the mix because I wasn't sure how my dog, Nikki, would react to not being the only "child" any more. But, after only a few days, their "doggy love" emerged.

I am actually discovering even more things about Nikki that I love (if it is even possible to love her more). I LOVE the fact that she has harnessed her inner mother, teacher, and patient friend. She adores the puppy! They share kisses after being reunited, worry when they are not together, and have endless play sessions.

I realize that sometimes you just have to go for it...because hesitant choices are not always bad ones. :)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Double Doula

I have been a doula for five years now, but this was the first time I was a doula for a close friend. I found it much harder to be completely objective with someone I know personally and love. I felt apprehensive with every intervention she received...even though I knew that most of the interventions she received have become "hospital norms". I was angry with her doctor and some of the nurses because I was so fearful that one of their procedures would cause my friend or her baby harm. This strong protective instinct I think caused me to be a less effective doula. In the end, both my friend and her baby were happy and healthy.

My friend thanked me for the help, gave me a lovely Things Remembered doula bracelet, and continues to call my hands "magic" I guess I did an okay job. It is just my inner perfectionist that wanted to give her the same objective doula experience that others have had. But, in the end, a happy mom, dad, and baby is what matters most!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Her Spirit

Nikki has been my dog (aka baby bear), for seven years now. Right now she is curled up around my feet smelling of shampoo from her recent bath. I began thinking about our last vet visit. I took her in for what I thought was a broken tail. But it turned out to be sprained due to excessive wagging. I had never heard of such a thing before! But, if a dog were to get would be her. Even though she is a little accident prone, she really is an amazingly sweet and happy dog who evidently wags her tail too much. :) Nikki's basic needs are food, water, and LOVE. When I am in one of my selfish or crabby moods, I often look at her. All day, every day she is peaceful, content, and ready to give and receive love. There is so much beauty in her spirit.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wedding Memories

As lovers of the snow, it was hard to imagine that in Richmond on our pre-selected wedding day we would have 14 inches of snow! While only half the guest list was able to make it, and there were many touch-and-go all worked out and even better than I imagined. Most people said "at least your wedding was full of memories and stories to tell your future children". They are right, but the snow was minor on the memory scale for me. Marrying my true love will always reign supreme. :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mariposa Monarca

The annual migration of the Monarch butterflies has been both a mystery and a wonderment of nature for many years. These little miracles travel to parts of Mexico each year as the winter season begins. They arrive in the same place, and many times even the same trees even though it is the fourth generation that returns the following year. Many questions still remain as to how the Monarchs know where to find their winter home.My husband and I recently traveled to Mexico to see the Monarchs at the Cerro Pelon butterfly sanctuary. First we took a car up a large mounatin (led by our guide) until we reached a small village. They were ready with horses to take us the rest of the way up the steep mountain. I looked for butterflies all along the way, just waiting for that first glimpse, but I didn't see any. We took the horses as far as we could, and then hiked the rest of the way on foot. All of a sudden our guide stopped, turned around to get our attention and pointed. There in a small valley, high in the mountains were the Monarchs. Their fluttering wings sounded like rushing water as so many of them were flying to be warmed by the sun.

I slowly began to notice that there were already Monarchs all around me. The sun had not yet reached them, so they were remaining frozen in place. They were in clusters on the ground, under leaves, and clinging to branches and tree trunks. It is impossible to describe the sheer amount of butterflies without actually being there. Even our guide and the village locals stood still and absorbed this phenomenal event.

At this particular sanctuary you are able to get closer to them than any other and can stay for an indefinite amount of time. We even ate lunch there, in the middle of the trail, just staring. Some of the locals believe that the Monarchs are the spirits of those who have passed on and greet them each year with respect and adoration. These delicate "winged flowers" will take your breath away and enable you to have your own spiritual experience.

I will probably not have the opportunity to witness this extraordinary event again, but I am thrilled that I did, and will keep so many memories close to my heart.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

At Peace

This is how I feel...

So blissful, content, and knowing...

That here is where I am meant to be.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Critical Hour

When I first started teaching I was overwhelmed, but joyous in my work with the children and the experience I was obtaining. Every year I learned more about the universe of education, and the direction we are rapidly approaching.

I am currently in my eighth year of teaching, and I am terrified.

* I am scared about our job security and the sheer volume of decreased funding.
* I am scared of the current teacher stress level and the impact it will have on teachers' health and longevity in the field of education.
* I am scared that we are pushing our kids too hard, and none of them will enjoy school or learning anymore.

Education has taken a turn that is sharp and dangerous. It is ravening in a direction that may put all of our hard work and goals off course. For two years my school district has not had enough money, so budgets were cut, and there has been a RIF (reduction in force). The forecast for next year is much worse. It is amazing to me that education is not important enough for adequate funding, but important enough to constantly raise expectations. Education is the future, and right now our future looks grim. On a side note, my state can not have unions, so basically any form of "uprising" could result in dismissal. This leaves our hands completely tied. Which leads me to teacher stress...

Teachers are so overwhelmed right now with school, district, state, and federal expectations that many doubt whether they can even handle the job anymore. More work and responsibility continues piling up, and sooner or later, it will cave in. My school district was quoted in the local paper (on the subject of teacher lap tops) as saying they are "a way to extend the school day without actually extending it". So basically, they can increase the workload for teachers, and not pay us any more or give us more time to complete the work. Good teachers are debating leaving the profession, and that would be a crime to everyone's children and their future.

Kids are being pushed and pushed far beyond their developmental age, in my opinion. The early grades have turned into a prep-school for the testing grades. We have to drill them, smother them in intervention, and beat knowledge into them to satisfy "adequate progress". I have high expectations for my students, and I give them my all every day...but what I am expected to be teaching them is not something I agree with. The lack of socialization during play is gone after kindergarten. Children may be progressing academically, but struggling in the social areas of development which is also critical. In my classroom, I am expected to teach them comprehension skills such as making inferences, when many of them are just starting to read. I believe that all of this pressure to make everyone succeed at the SAME rate will backfire, and children will lose their intrinsic desire and motivation to learn. Parents should also be concerned. Schools are expected to collect data, data, and more data on children. That word has now entered the same category as other four letter words. I do feel it is very important to analyze and test children's progress, but not when we are testing more than we are instructing. For example, it takes me two weeks of guided reading time to test their reading level. Since I have to do this four times a year, this is eight weeks out of a school year that your child is not receiving small group instruction in reading. So, what would you consider more important?

Some how, some way...teachers, parents, and other educational supporters need to start speaking out and against depriving schools of necessary funding, putting more stress and work on teachers without proper time to do it and compensation, and stealing the joy of education from young learners.