Monday, August 31, 2009

Freshly Sharpened Pencils? Check

"It is not what you do for your children,
but what you teach them to do for themselves
that shall determine their level of success."
~ Unknown

Welcome to room 11. We're a class of inquisitive sixth graders and we're set for a fresh, new school year, full of adventure, experimentation, limit pushing and mind bending.

The first day of school continues to excite me. Thank goodness I became a teacher. I still have a great excuse to purchase spiffy binders, purple pens, neat-o notebooks, and those ever-so-necessary colorful paperclips.

I look at this pristine,untouched classroom, filled with new books and pointy pencils, and find myself filled with hope; hope for a year where my students develop a love of learning, realize their potential, grow to love themselves, develop a healthy self-confidence, and understand that they determine their destinies.

Yes, this year shall be one of personal responsibility and challenges.

And books.

May our minds find themselves filled with new words, other worlds, and interesting characters.

See you tomorrow, sixth graders. Come prepared for an amazing year.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Craving

"Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all."
~ Stanley Horowitz

It started yesterday.

I would have done about anything for a piping hot crock of chili and a piece of warm, sweet cornbread-- the kind where the butter instantly melts, creating the perfect balance of sweet and salty.

The craving gripped me, and so far, it hasn't let go. Along with that crock of chili, I'm also requesting weekends full of festivals, well worn jeans, and down vests. Add to that a palate of warm colors, some crackling fires, apple cider and toasty socks, and I'll be a very delighted girl. Oh, and how about a pathway of crunchy, colorful leaves? I simply love that sound...walking on crispy leaves. Ohh, just the thought makes me giddy.

If you haven't caught on, I crave fall like some people crave chocolate or ice cream or caffeine. Hands down, it's my favorite season, and I find myself looking forward to it with an intense sense of childish glee.

I emerged from the shower and settled on the couch at exactly 8:04 pm. This small instance alone hints to me that fall is near. It was then that I turned to look out the window and spotted the beautiful sunset. Pretty, isn't it?

My photographer instinct kicked in and I knew I had to capture it. It called to me from the other side of the glass, and it was then I realized that these types of evenings are the ones I want to remember forever; cool with an ever so slight breeze and the gentle flicker of lightening bugs. Fire-flies or lightening bugs? What do you call them?

As I wondered the street and lawn, snapping photos like a well-paid member of the paparazzi, I couldn't help but to lose myself in the conversation of nature. Off in the distance, the sounds of chirping crickets, croaking frogs, and the forlorn hoot of a lonely owl echoed calmly. I'd love to know what their calls mean. Are they communicating about their days or are they simply singing themselves to sleep?

Yes, the craving has settled in, and I'm here to tell you that it's pretty intense. Let me know if you'll be joining me for some warm soups, homemade bread and apple cider. We can sit by a cozy fire, consume hearty comfort foods, converse and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Knit 1, Pearl 3, Repeat

"I like taking a piece of string and making it into something amazing."

Wanted: A sweet fairy who can quickly dust, sweep, wash dishes and iron. If you, my winged and magical creature, can grocery shop, an added bonus shall be dolled out.

Why: Because I'm busy being crafty.

Knitting still has my heart. I'm so hooked. Can I please sit and knit all day?

Feelin' Like Fall

"You must give to get,
You must sow the seed,
before you can reap the harvest."

I wish you could smell the harvest pumpkin candle that buns on the kitchen stove. Pure autumn bliss...

It was one of those mornings; dreary and damp and kinda smelling like fall. I couldn't resist--out came the candle and a pretty little sunflower tea towel. It was just me and munchkin and the pile of ironing. We all agreed that a little autumn aroma and some new decor would put us in a most pleasant mood.

As the day progressed, Charlie T. insisted on an outing. Unable to resist her gentle puffs and gurrs at the kitchen door, we ventured (leash-free....she's so responsible these days) to the backyard. She carried the basket and I gathered the ripe crops.

Today's specialty? Cayanne peppers and cherry tomatoes.

While roaming around, the feelings of fall appeared more evident as hundreds of black-eyed susans dotted the landscape. Charlie T. thinks they're the best, can ya tell?

She decided to kick up her paws and perform her version of the happy dance. Isn't she a hoot?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Looking Out, Looking Back

"Every man's memory is his private literature."
~Aldous Huxley

Everyday I look out of this window. As a matter of fact, it's my first stop after sneaking out of my warm bed and getting a face full of puppy kisses from Miss Charlie T.

Obviously, it's nothing more than your typical double-pained glass window. But to me, it serves as a rather interesting illusion; a link between past, present and future.

As a munchkin, I grew up in the caddy-cornered lawn. When I look out this window I see memories of a past and happy childhood and I occasionally flashback and see things the way they they once were.

I totally understand things change, but I'll admit it, I have a hard time letting go.

Honestly, while looking back, I have stifle a chuckle. Poor Mrs. Maize. If her yard would have been as overgrown 20 years ago, as it is today, the neighborhood children would have indeed had a field day; spying on her and watching diligently as she cooked dinner and went about her household chores. Wow- we honestly thought we were rebels.

Then, there's the windowsill itself. To most people the little green plant babies are just that- tiny pots of vegetation. Oh no- not so. If you know me well, most often times there's way more than meets the eye.

See that little pot of ivy on the left hand side of the picture? Well, that little guy holds the honor of being the first houseplant I ever bought myself. I lived in Springfield, Virginia and he was my potted friend. He's had a few different homes since then, but really enjoys his current spot.

If you've been a loyal blog reader, you might recognize the following picture. Take your time. Think it through.

Any ideas? Well, if not, click here. But for those of you who do remember, Miss Maple tree appears to relish her current habitat. I'm beyond pleased with her healthy and lush foliage. Grow, Miss Maple, grow!

Off to the right sits my tiny and fragile friend, thyme. I hate to boast, but he certainly has come a long way. What was just a mere flat of tiny seeds has emerged into a beautiful and thriving herb.

We can dig deeper, should you care for a more in-depth analysis of my windowsill.

Notice the tiny glass jar with the rusty star? I bought it for myself while I was in college, working away my summer vacation in an old log cabin. The cabin had been transformed into a quaint little shoppe, and I loved, loved, loved working there. When I bought this glassy wonder, I had no idea where I'd eventually end up, but I thought it was special and would serve as a reminder of an ultra-fascinating summer job.

The small lime green pots were a gift from my mama. She just happens to be the queen gardener and when I began expressing a sincere interest in nature's goodness, she helped to feed the frenzy. Although the picture does not show them, there are two more which house my basil and chives.

So, there ya have it.

My little window. My little corner of the world. My little link to the past, present and future.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Guest Writer: Charlie T.

"A person who has never owned a dog has missed a wonderful part of life."
Bob Barker

Hey there. I'm Charlie T. You've probably heard of me.

Mama C. would most likely drop to the floor if she knew I was telling you this, but right now, she's in the kitchen making a smores in the microwave. She does silly things like that. But, shhh... we'll keep that between us, won't we?

Since she's not paying the least bit of attention to me, her darling four-pawed dogger, and because I know she won't share her chocolaty goodness (some lame excuse about it not being good for me), I decided to check out this whole blogging scene. I always hear her talk about it, and I'm pretty sure a few of my portraits have popped up here and there.

So, for those of you with inquiring minds, here's the run down of my day. This morning, I enjoyed a very pleasant, leash-free jaunt around the lawn. Oh the freedom! To feel the wind in my fur and the sun on my back.

While out investigating and following the numerous trails of chippies, squirrels, and bunny rabbits, I came across this sweet little daisy. Mama just adores daisies, so I had to stop and marvel.

Honestly, even though I am denied palatable wonders, such as chocolate and smores, I live a grand ol' life at 403. I have a kind mama and a fun papa and they love me very much. I don't get sweet treats, but they don't get Milk Bones. I guess we'll call it even.

Anyway, I wish you could have seen me sneaking into the junk drawer, properly using the big people scissors (having an opposable thumb would have been ultra helpful), and putting together this pretty bouquet.

I hope Mama likes it. I hope it makes her smile.

Oh geez- here she comes, and, ruff ruff, she has some marshmallow stuck on her cheek!

Alrighty-nice chattin' with ya. I just spotted a sunbeam and it's about time for my afternoon napper.

May the Harvest Begin

"It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a delicious homegrown tomato."
~Lewis Grizzard

Breaking News: Red and Ripe Cherry Tomatoes are Finally Here--Fresh Picked, Right off the Vine!

Can you smell that warm, sweet summer scent?

mmm.... It's an olfactory treat, for sure.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

In the Wee Hours

"If you can't sleep, then get up and do something instead of lying there worrying. It's the worry that gets you, not the lack of sleep."
~Dale Carnegie

Usually, I sleep like a baby. I'm one of those people who can fall asleep just about anywhere and pretty much anytime. I love sleep and it loves me. Me and sleep- we have a grand ol' relationship.

However the other night I found myself wide awake. I looked over at the clock only see a harshly illuminated 3:18 am. Ugh...

I tossed and turned and meditated and finally gave up.

"Why not do something productive?" I chided myself.

I hate the thought of wasting my time, so I got up, turned on the computer, picked up my knitting needles, and taught myself a new pattern. (Yes, I teach myself to knit by using educational tutorials such as YouTube... I know, I know....)

So, please enjoy a peek at my midnight creation. It's on it's way to being a present for a little dearie I happen to think the world of.

Summer School

"Autism is about having a pure heart and being very sensitive… It is about finding a way to survive in an overwhelming, confusing world… It is about developing differently, at a different pace and with different leaps."
~Trisha Van Berkel

Imagine that you have something to say, but no way to say it.

What if you felt emotions, but had no way to convey them?

Perhaps you needed or wanted something, but were unable to communicate your desire.

For so many individuals in today's society, the above problems present themselves on a minute by minute basis. Can you begin to fathom the frustration of trying to exist in a world that isn't quite cut out for you?

Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that having an autism diagnosis can mean suffering from severe intellectual disabilities to being profoundly gifted. Some autistic individuals are extremely loquacious, while others can barely, if at all, communicate. Many autistic persons seek self-stimulating behaviors, such as finger tapping and arm waving, yet others crave rigid routines that must not deviate from the expected.

Over the summer I had the distinct pleasure of working with a group of children who are identified as autistic. Like I mentioned earlier, autism is a spectrum disorder, so what works for one child, does not necessarily work for the next.

I spent time with four children. None of them could speak. One could use basic sign language on a forced basis. One could use a Go-talk communication device to identify colors and numbers with an accuracy of about 40%. One used a Go-talk with rather reasonable success and one child never spoke or used sign.

Working with these children proved one of the best, most fulfilling activities of my summer. It was interesting to note that the same children who were unable to verbalize their most basic desires could still experience hurt and love and happiness and sadness.

Never once did I hear, "Thank you," or, "This is fun!" However, it was the gentle looks and the overwhelming sense of trust and understanding that develop through patience and kindness and sincere caring.

I also learned that having a disability does not meaning having an excuse. These children thrived when pushed to their potential. Perhaps that was one of the biggest lessons for me. These children don't want a way out, they just want a way-- and it was my awesome job to help them find it.

May all of my little lovelies be blessed.

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