Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Break- Day 2

As I pause long enough to breathe I see all the things I've neglected these past few months. I love love love my backyard and it is in a state of woeful neglect. I am deeply shamed. We spend a lot of time back there when the weather is nice and I'm dying to re-claim my "outdoor room" that is my patio. First and foremost, though, there is the need to get everything cleaned up. A new fence is being installed on one side of the yard (new neighbors, fixing up a neglected property) so as soon as they're done, weather permitting, I plan to begin raking up all the dead leaves, something I SHOULD have done last fall when I was up to my eyeballs in figuring out how to function as a full time teacher/excellent wife/supermom. A trip to Home Depot is definitely in order. I need to enlist my able-bodied children to mow and weed a bit, need to put out the cushions on my outdoor furniture, need Grace to help me pick flowers for the pots that will go on the patio (see how I'm enlisting her to give her ownership, maybe she'll even water them...), and need to get some fertilizer and lawn patch to re-grow some of my very sad, patchy back lawn. I have plans, not all of which may be realized this short spring break...but I'll snap a few pics as they are. Our back yard has been an oasis for as long as we've been in this house, nearly 10 years. I need my oasis back!

Spring 1

With spring break comes an inexplicable feeling of freedom that I hadn't really remembered from my own childhood until just these past few days. With only 8 1/2 teaching weeks remaining I can't tell you you much I revel in the pause that is this time off. Much as I love my job, I was truly giddy as I locked my classroom Friday afternoon. My master plan: spend as much time enjoying my family as possible. And maybe a mani/pedi.

Yesterday morning we headed off to Sacramento Executive Airport where James' plane is hangared for an adventure. James has been a private pilot for 11 years, but we haven't flown all that much with the kids. We decided to rectify that situation. James' plane is a Beechcraft Bonanza, which he co-owns with about a dozen other pilots. It can hit about 175 mph. Which makes it possible to travel to unexpected places just for lunch, which is just what we did. It was a perfect morning; no wind, sunny, no haze or fog. After checking the weather in all directions, we settled on a trip to Half Moon Bay, just south of San Francisco.

One thing I've always loved about flying in small aircraft is the amazing things you can see from 4000 feet that you can't see at any other time. When you're in a big jet, you're too far up to see so much of this detail: the texture of the fields as you fly over the valley, the variation in colors, Mt. Diablo in such sharp relief, the delta spreading out in all directions, the green, soft hills covered in yellow and orange wildflowers. We could see the Golden Gate bridge in the distance as we were approaching Fairfield. It was such a cool way the view the scenery, so familiar from the ground, very different from the air. The kids were fascinated as never before with the scenery as we flew down, enjoying Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, all our usual stops, through a bird's-eye view. Just after clearing Sausalito we had to rapidly descend from 4500 ft. to 1500 to stay out of San Francisco Airports Class B airspace. Beats any roller coaster.

We flew south along the coastline, landed in Half Moon Bay, and walked to Barbara's Fish Trap for the freshest possible seafood lunch. This was a total departure from our usual lives, an escape from the ordinary in every way, peaceful and unhurried, no agenda to keep. Time to laugh, talk, enjoy the company of those I love most. I know this week would fly, so I'm very grateful that this trip was what it was. Exactly what the first day of spring break should be.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

"Keeping up appearances" or "my life through bifocals..."

So this weekend my 14 1/2 year old son decided it would be a good idea to shave his head. Really. He has the most fabulous hair, naturally wavy, very thick, coppery auburn color with black tips from a dye job months ago. And he has cast off vanity. After his play rehearsal on Saturday morning we drove to a salon where he told his "usual" stylist to just shave it all off. This nice young man looked quizzically in my direction and asked if this was okay with me. I nodded, adding that it was his hair and it will grow back. So shave it all off he did. And my son, all angular features and fair skin, emerged with a completely different look. It occurs to me that my vanity is thrown into sharp relief here. While Conor has fully embraced the open and unobscured view of himself that having absolutely no hair (okay, a red fuzz barely visible to the naked eye) will display, I still struggle so very much with appearance. I received the news not so long ago that bifocals were in my future. Now my present. My optometrist said this was normal for "people my age." Harumph. So I struggle with the appearance of looking a bit older, though with glasses that have no visible line that denotes the bifocal nature of these necessary though frustrating instruments. I can see clearly, so can Conor. I guess I need to embrace it as he has.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Here's where I've been...

I promised that I'd make good on my intentions to chronicle my first year as a full-tim teacher. I ran across this reflection I wrote for my Principal after my first week and thought I'd share. This was written early in September 2009 and is a valuable reminder to me as I being the 4th quarter of this school year.

Reflections of my first week…

First and foremost, I feel a huge sense of accomplishment at having “done” back to school for the first time ever. I feel the seating charts, working out procedures, classroom organization, and the myriad other preparations over which I labored were time well spent. The procedures are taking hold, and my desire to instill organization in the students will be realized. Eventually. There have been certain class periods in the first week during which I didn’t have enough planned for the students and they had more “silent reading” time than they should have, something I need to improve on, and I do struggle to remember some students’ names. The getting to know you activities for each of my classes worked well. These activities gave students a chance to interact as well as giving me a chance to learn about each of them as individuals and as students. By Thursday, I had a huge feeling of being overwhelmed with all the initial assessment work and placing students where they could best learn, the experience felt like climbing Everest. Fortunately, I’ve been at “base camp” for a little longer and I am feeling more acclimated.

However when my alarm went off this morning, it awakened me from a vivid dream. My dream involved me driving a semi. It’s fuzzy why I was even attempting this, since I don’t actually drive anything bigger than my little car these days, but I was partially blindfolded as I was driving. I was told by my mother, in this dream, that I had to drive this manual transmission semi, fully loaded, over the Grapevine. I haven’t driven a manual transmission in probably 10 years and have never even pondered how many gears one of these leviathans actually have, much less the level of effort needed to navigate this monster over these mountains in traffic. But I had to learn this seemingly impossible task on the fly and do it safely so as not to endanger my mom, in the car behind me, and the other drivers on the road. My husband laughed when I told him my dream, saying that was exactly what I was doing here in my first year of teaching.