“Graditude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a ome, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” – Melody Beattie
Summer has finally arrived. School is out. Donna and Sandra pack bags of things to do in the car during the long car ride from Texas to South Carolina. They pack books to read, cards to play games with, and dolls to dress and comb. Mom is filling up a cooler with snacks while Dad is packing the car top carrier with suitcases.
The car ride seems to take forever. Donna keeps asking, “How many more hours until we get there?“ Dad gives Donna a map so that she can follow along – through the states – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia. They drive all night. The kids lay down in the backseats and fall asleep. Finally, the next morning, they arrive in South Carolina.
Granny is so happy. She rushes out the front door even before they knock.
“Hug my neck,” she tells them, tears streaming down her face. Papa and Uncle Eddie follow behind Granny. For a moment it is just a big mixture of everyone taking turns hugging.
“We’re sure glad you’re here,” Papa tells them.
“Well, come on inside.” Granny says as she takes hold of Dad’s arm and pulls him in the direction of the house.
The next morning the girls scramble out of bed as the first rays of sunlight shine on their faces through the large windows. They run into Mom and Dad’s room to shake mom awake to ask her to please go outside with them, but she’s not there. She’s already in the kitchen.
“Good morning, girls. I made you some breakfast. After you eat we can go for a walk on the beach.” She says with a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face.
They walk the beach on Harbor Island. It’s more beautiful than Donna or Sandra had remembered from last year. They find a comfortable spot on the wet sand to build sandcastles. Mom sets up her lawn chair closer to the dunes, where the sand is dry and hot. As the girls build their castle, the warm water rushes up to them in rhythmic splashes, gently covering their toes, then their feet, then their ankles as the tide comes in. Water rushes into the mote of the sandcastle.
Dad comes out to join them on the beach. He wades in the water with the girls. She salty water splashes all over as the waves hit the beach. “Don’t go too far out,” Dad calls. The girls stay close enough that the undercurrent doesn’t take them away.
The next day Sandra, Mom, Dad and Donna head into town. Beaufort has a big playground along the waterfront. Mom and Dad swing in the big wooden swings while the girls climb all over the climbing frame until they are breathless and tired. Afterwards they all get ice cream on a cone. Donna likes Mint Chocolate Chip the best, but Sandra prefers Strawberry.
On the way home, they stop at the Crab shack on Lady’s Island. Mom started a tradition that each year they must stop there at least once and have a crab burger sandwich. The restaurant is a run-down little joint where the food is served hot and you can see the shrimp boats from the picnic tables outside.
The vacation days pass, one by one. Each day the girls do something different. One day Mom takes them to the pool. The other day they go with Granny to antique stores in Savannah. A different day they go to California Dreamin’ in Charleston.
The day before it’s time to go home Mom is in the kitchen filling a cooler full of snacks while Dad is outside packing the car top carrier full of suitcases. Donna and Sandra are packing books to read, cards to play games and dolls to dress and comb into a bag for the long car ride from South Carolina back to Texas.
As the drive away Granny is standing on the front porch, tears streaming down her face. Papa and Uncle Eddie are waving Goodbye. Donna and Sandra are in the car, sad to be going home after such a fun trip, but Dad reminds them that they will be back next year for another fun vacation.
Today I am going to write the article for next week’s newsletter for my daughter’s school. Turn off TV week is September 19-25, 2010. I am thinking about writing an article for that, but I am worried that it will be too “preachy.” My intent with The Literacy Corner is to inform parents with things to help their children in school, especially with literacy, but I don’t want to get into personal parenting choices. Here’s what I came up with, but I also came up with another article, which is an extension of last week’s article. The second article can run next week (if the director decided the turn off the t.v article is too soapboxish) or it can run the following week.
Turn off TV week is September 19-25, 2010 T.V. watching decreases physical activity, decreases brainwave activity, promotes inattentive eating and/or overeating, and causes watchers to be subject to bombardment of advertising. This voluntary “turn of the TV” program is intended to challenge people to lead less passive and more engaging lives. According to turnoffyourtv.com, “The purpose of National TV-Turnoff Week is to leave behind judgements about the quality of television and focus instead on creating, discovering, building, participating and doing.” Parents can make a list of activities planned for each day or plan only a few activities and allow the imaginations and creativity of each person to flourish as they dream up new and exciting things to do with the time they are not spending watching television. Long list of interesting activities available at: http://www.turnoffyourtv.com/turnoffweek/TV.turnoff.week.html Personally, I don’t know if I am a big fan of completely turning off my screens for an entire week. I don’t think it reflects the reality of our lives. Living so far from ‘home,’ I find screens (especially the computer screen) my connection to my culture and family. My variation to this will be: moderation. For the kids I will allow ½ an hour of screen time each day after school. For me: Instead of checking e-mail all day I will only check it once a day and only surf the internet for ½ an hour each day. Each family who chooses to participate can define their own parameters, but simply learning about the effects of media is an important thing to know.
Homework Work Space
Maybe you tried to establish the study habits talked about in last week’s newsletter, but you found that your child really didn’t have the right “spot” to do homework. Here are some helpful tips on creating just the right place for your child to do homework. The place should be quite enough and out of the way enough that you child does not get too distracted by others or media influences (cell phone, t.v. radio, video games, etc). It should be close enough to an adult that they can easily ask questions and close enough that they don’t feel isolated. A good place might be the kitchen table while you are cooking dinner, or the office while you are reading. Stock the homework spot with materials that make doing homework easier such as paper, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, ruler, or anything else that your child might need to do homework. If you are really feeling motivated you can decorate the homework area with maps and charts, spelling word list, math problems, or anything else academic that might be engaging or motivational for you child.
I am so super excited about writing today. Why? Because I read other people’s writings yesterday and today (for the first time) and I got lots of ideas! It’s crazy how much being a part of a community of writers can have a positive effect, and inspiring effect on one’s own writing. Last time I took a writing class and had to do free writing I began by writing lots of poems, mostly using poem starters. Then I moved into stories. This time I have been sporadic (which is very unlike me). Tracy Cousino had some poem starters and list starters that I asked her to use. Here I go:
Things I want to do within 5 years
(Let me first wrap my head around this for a minute: In five years it will be Autumn 2015. My daughter will be 12 years old, starting 7th grade and my son will be 8 starting 2nd grade, Wow! My husband will be retired and we will either be living in our forever house where we will settle down, or he will be two years into doing contracting/consulting work in his current field, which means we would be in DC.)
In 5 years: 1) I want to have a current teaching license (my old one expired last Dec and I didn’t renew it). 2) Be finished with my master’s degree (that should be May 2011). 3) I would like to go back to teaching. I would love it to be part time. Half days, so that I could still be with the kids in the afternoons/evenings and keep up with the housework, but I am sure that is just a fantastical dream that I cannot find. That means I will probably be working full time. I am so scared I won’t have time for my own kids. I wonder if that’s the case. 4) This is terrible! I cannot think of any more life goals!
I used to have life goals, but I am almost done achieving them. My old goals were 1)have kids – done! 2) live abroad at least one year – done x’s 5 and 3) get my master’s degree – done in May!
What does it say about me if I don’t have life goals?
I guess it could be 1) keep raising my kids 2) keep being married 3) eventually go back to teaching. ?
Or it could be 1) live in an eco-friendly house (I would have to define that because that could be quite illusive without parameters) 2) eventually go back to teaching (I keep saying eventually because I don’t know when I want that to be. All I remember is how utterly consuming teaching was before I had kids and how utterly consuming my kids are now and I am just worried that I will not fill completely fulfilled in either if I go back while my kids are still young. Obtaining my master’s degree has been the best because I have been able to be at home with my kids AND keep close to my professional field. The idea was presented to me a few weeks ago that I could just keep going to school, earn a PhD to continue having the best of both worlds, but what does an early elementary school teacher need with a PhD? I know I don’t want to be a principal! I don’t like people complaining to me that much. Wonder if I could teach on-line somewhere, during the day, with just a Master’s degree. Wonder if there is a community college where I can be an on-line professor for a few years until my kids are at the phase where they are so busy with after school activities that they don’t get home until 5 or 6 pm anyway.
I did not intend to explore this topic today. I intended on writing a simple list.
I guess I cannot complete this list. Not yet. My husband is having an even worse kind of crisis. He retires in 3 years and he has no idea what he wants to do. I teased him the other day and asked if he wants me to buy him the book, What Color is Your Parachute. I know that he will eventually decide on a next job (I pray it will be something that I am happy with. . . Running a bar is not something I think I will be happy with.). So I guess I need to also know that eventually I will decide on my next goals.
Write a book could be a goal, but I don’t want to be one of those unemployed writers like you see in movies. I want it to just flow out of me naturally and for me to happen upon a contract with a book company. I know that life goals do not just “happen” like that. The work for this master’s degree did not just flow out of me and a school did not just happen to grant me a degree.
So, for today, by 2015 I plan:
1) Have a teaching license.
2) Have some sort of part time job related to the teaching field, possibly full time.
3) Be working towards living in a eco-friendly house (whatever that is) and a big garden. (I learned this year that I like gardening. I have a few minutes, so I will tell you about my garden this year. I planted: onions, red chili peppers, corn, tomatoes, basil, rosemary, cilantro, dill, parsley, celery seed, strawberries, cucumbers, zuccinni, squash, and mint. Then, there’s the unexpected plants that just popped up: raspberry sprigs, sunflowers, one bell pepper plant, potatoes, and more tomatoes. I am having a BLAST with it. I am canning all sorts of food for the winter like salsa, pizza sauce, stewed tomatoes, jams and jellies. Next week I think I am going to buy a bushel of apples and make applesauce. The kids love it and you cannot find unsweetened applesauce here.
Sounds like a good plan!
With all of the newsletter articles that I have written with my free writing time, my husband has taken notice. We belong to a running/walking group called HASH (Hash House Harriers). We meet every other week. Our next meeting is Sunday, Sept 12th and Bruce would like me to write an article in our community newsletter.
In my writing class we read a lot about using “voice” in our piece – one’s own authentic speech. Sometimes voice contains humor, other times it might contain certain type language like colloquial talk or slang, other times its drawing a picture with words instead of describing something. I would like for this article to have voice but I don’t know how to do it. That’s probably one of the parts of writing that I have the most difficulty with.
(This is intentionally written in second person).
Sunday. 2pm. Hash. Meet at the Water tower.
Unsure about hash? Think you might want to come along, but you don’t know what its all about? Hash is a non-competitive running and walking group. Every other Sunday hashers (the runners and walkers and their kids) meet at the Water Tower at 2pm where the hare (the person or people who set the trail) tells a little about the trail and shows what the trail markings look like. Then, everyone drives to the appointed location where the fun begins. Runners and walkers have separate trails, each following flour markings on the ground. Don’t be fooled by the false trails. They might lead the front runner astray, but not for long. Halfway through there is usually a water/beer stop where you can rest briefly and refresh and, of course, there’s always a beverage stop at the end! Then after the circle, where members are recognized and events on the run/walk are reviewed, you and this lively, international group eat a light meal together and socialize. If you like to drink beer, this part is for you.
This week we will be exploring new terrain in the northwest corner of Chisinau. We haven’t run out there before, but it promises to be beautiful – rain or shine.
Want more info? Check out this awesome link:
See you on Sunday!
On-On (the hash term meaning, this way – follow me).
I must admit that I don’t really like it much. I think that while this is informative, it is lacking fun and personality. I labored over this. I’ll send it to my husband and the leader of the running group and see what they think of it. I will give them both free rein to change, alter or edit.
Maybe one day I can write a better article. I am sure we will need another advertisement next month.
“I like Hash because it’s family time. It’s a way for me to spend time with my girls during the walk and for us to spend time as a family when the hash is over. I like that our family is doing something active, not just sitting on the couch together on a Sunday afternoon. Plus, it’s nice to see friends, too.” ~Maria Peterson
OK – now that testimonial was written much better. That’s because it was written from the heart while the first part was written from the unconfident head. I also interviewed my girlfriend and wrote what she said.
Set up a afternoon/evening schedule:
1) Schedule in time for homework. 2) Ask the teacher how much time she/he expects the child to do homework each night (so that you know how much time to slot). 3) Include a snack. Sometimes kids’ energy levels run low after a fun and exhausting day at school. Give them a healthy snack before or during homework time for a little pick-me-up.
Set up rules: To develop the homework habit, find the rules that work best for your family such as “no t.v. or phone until homework is done.”
Establish a place to do homework.
Organization: You might find that some children need a little extra assistance with organization. Creating a homework day planner might help. Also, designating a spot for their book bag/lunch box and school folders at home might be handy so that they can keep all of their stuff together.
If you have specific questions about homework habit, the scholastic website has a wealth of information. Try: http://www2.scholastic.com and type in “homework habits”.
Again, I am at a loss as to what to write.
I feel like I should check my e-mail again. Whenever I sit down to the computer and I am a little stumped – if I don’t know what to write for free writing or if I am not sure what to do next on my assignment – I check e-mail. It’s not a very productive habit. Actually, it’s quite unproductive because inevitably, I get completely distracted. There is always some non-important e-mail asking a question that’s easy to answer. So I spend my time completing the simple, mindless tasks, leaving the thinking tasks for later.
If I felt like this time was truly free writing with nothing to show for it I would just steam of consciousness for a half an hour, but instead, I feel like this time must be productive and help me to produce some sort of product, so each time I sit down, not knowing what I want my ultimate product to be I feel like I am wasting a valuable writing session. Then, unfortunately I wasted 10 minutes just now trying to think about what product I would produce, until coming to the conclusion that I could have been 10 minutes into writing already.
After yesterday I decided that I did not want the Princess story to be my product. While I think it would be fun to write my daughter a story for every year, remembering her friends each year, I decided that my passion was not in remembering her friends. So, I will not write that story.
I want to do another story about my family members‘ past, but I haven’t done any research on them yet.
Maybe I could do it on my maternal great grandmother. There is no one left who experienced her childhood, therefore the only recorded memory is the one I taped. I would have the freedom to write it as I wish without doing too much research.
I want whatever I write to be able to be a mentor piece for a future classroom I might have. I will select narrative as my type of writing.
My paternal grandmother’s childhood is compelling, but I don’t think that I am a good enough writer to tackle the feelings she felt and the experiences she lived through.
Completely off subject:
My dad made a startling comment on my blog yesterday in response to my dead people post. He said, “I had a thought recently, I will live as long as someone remembers me. When the last of them have passed, then I will be gone as if I never was.”
That thought sticks with me and touches me. In so few words he captivated the reason why I always tend to write about family members. Why? Love. I have fond memories of family members and a strong love for them. Because of that I have a desire that they do not die, with me. Instead, my desire is that they, through the stories that I hope to write, will live in the hearts and minds of my children. There is a quote that I so often remember, “I am the link between the past and the future.” I feel that so strongly.
O.k. With that said, maybe I should resurrect the Moldova idea.
Last year I moved to Moldova. I have this crazy, far fetched idea that with all of my experiences here I could write a young adult novel about a teenage girl who moves to Moldova. She would be American, used to the American way of life, thrust into Moldova. She could, at first, hate it because it is so different, but at the end of the book she would have learned to appreciate it for what it is and enjoy it because of the differences, not in spite of them.
Of course, this does not connect my children with my family and history, which is important to me, but the Moldova story would capture my experiences in Moldova.
What’s your opinion?
There’s a popular book out called Driving in the Car with Dead People by Monica Holloway. I have not read it, but some ladies in my book club have and they highly recommend it. So far, I haven’t had the desire. I feel like I don’t need to drive in the car with dead people because I sleep with them instead.
No, I don’t really mean I sleep with dead people in my bed. Instead, what I mean is that dead people fill my dreams. Sometimes they just visit with me, renewing me with their forgotten presence and pouring into my heart the love and adoration they once showed me. Other times they remind me of unique traits they possessed. And yet other times they lead me as I journey down life’s path.
Recently in my dreams my husband and I were returning from a trip to Texas where we dropped off our camero to be stored in my grandfather’s shed. On our way home I noticed we were riding in a hurst. Since we drove the Camero there we didn’t have a car to drive home. When I asked Bruce where we got it he said Papa arranged for us to drive it. Sounds strange, but I remembered thinking it was just like my grandfather to take care of us.
Last night my dear Aunt Alice reminded me, ever so graciously, to keep in touch with my uncle who now l. She gently encouraged me to live out virtues in my life that sometimes seem hard. That, too, is just how my aunt was, lovingly prompting me to live a better life.
Very frequently I dream of the dearly beloved who have already passed and whenever I do, it always seems comforting – like a renewal. Fond memories flood my mind and wash away the ad longings to be with them for a few more minutes.
I diligently pray that for the time being I will not have any more loved ones who pass away, but if they do, I am comforted by the thought that they will be with me once again, on the other side of the veil, even if only in my dreams.
Do you have the desire to recycle, but find it hard here? Wish you knew where to drop off your glass, plastic, and cardboard? I have had the same thoughts and researched some answers. I hope my answers are helpful and I encourage anyone who has more information on this subject to add it to what I present.
Recycling plastic bottles is easy. Near many dumpsters around Chisinau, especially near dumpsters located close to apartment buildings, are large yellow cages. The cages have small, square cut-outs at each end. Just pull your car up beside them, throw in your empty plastic bottles and go.
The place I recycle most of my plastic is on Miorţa.
Glass and Cardboard:
Recycling cardboard and glass takes a little more effort, but is easier if you don’t care about getting money. Both can be sold, but the sellers usually want to either haggle about the price, or give you and I.O.U. I find both of those ideas undesirable, so I just “donate” my cardboard and glass to their establishments.
Both the glass and cardboard recycling places I use are located near the Nr.1 on Hincesti, on strada Docuceav.
The glass recycling place is across the street from the flower market. The Romanian word for bottle is “sticla” so the sign above the door of the recycling says “colectarea sticelor.”
The cardboard recycling I go to is to the right of the same flower market (if you are looking at the flower market). It is a blue shipping trailer. The sign reads “Clectarea Manulaturei”
When the cardboard and recycling places’ doors are open, they are open. When the doors are closed they are closed. I don’t know their hours, but they generally are open morning to evening most days of the week.
Good luck. I hope you find this informative. Please add any information you might have on the subject and “Happy Recycling!”
Literacy Corner – Why Reading is Important
This Wednesday many returning students turned in their Summer Reading Passports. Overall, the students read an exceptional amount this Summer, really catching the spirit of the Summer Reading Program. Congratulations students!
Some might wonder why the school encouraged such a program over the summer. According to a report released in 2007 by the National Endowment for the Arts, “reading for pleasure correlates strongly with academic achievement. Voluntary readers are better readers and writers than non-readers. Children and teenagers who read for pleasure on a daily or weekly basis score better on reading and writing tests than infrequent readers. . . People with lower levels of reading and writing ability do less well in the job market. Poor reading skills correlate heavily with lack of employment, lower wages, and fewer opportunities for advancement.”
On the contrary, people who read frequently “are more likely than non-readers to play sports, exercise, visit art museums, attend theater, paint, go to music events, take photos, and volunteer. Proficient readers are more likely to vote” and participate in civic activities as well.
Dana Gioia, chairman for the National Endowment encourages, “It is time to inspire a nationwide renaissance of literary reading and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of all citizens.” This is, of course, what we want for our children and students. So, with the start of this new school year, be encouraged to pick up the reading habit! It benefits not only you and your child and has far reading affects.