Little Ears Hear All. (And the damage is far-reaching.)

Today, Jack sat at my table to work on Kid Writing. We had just finished a big discussion about nurse sharks, and he wasn't quite finished with me.

"I fink you learned that shark fing on fake news."

"No, I didn't!" I replied. "That information about nurse sharks are FACTS.  They are true things."

Jack looked at me.  "No, girls are forgetters.  You are forgetting.  I saw this on the TRUE news.  It's from California."

Oh sweet Jesus, I have a LOT of work to do.  


December...when even the GOOD go bad. (Way, way bad.)

This time of year, I always remember fondly the weeks leading up to Christmas in the Marsh house.  I can picture my mother, AnnaBelle, wearing her Christmas apron in the kitchen, working furiously on divinity, various kinds of fudge, meringue concoctions, cookies of all shapes and sizes and petits fours in preparation for the holiday extravaganza.   In fact, her face and most of her clothing were covered in flour for MOST of the month of December. 

My brother, sister and I would spend those weeks pretending that all of the horrible fighting that had occurred the past eleven months was just a figment of our parent’s imagination.  We were ANGELS, believing in our hearts that our letters to Santa outlining our various saintly acts would surely bring us plenty of loot.  That darling man with the red suit always came through, proving that this particular strategy worked. 

Now that I’m older, and teaching all of those angelic children, I have realized that all of that perfect behavior at HOME results in surprising and challenging days for teachers in elementary school.   The weeks in December are the true test of a skilled teacher, the “front lines” if you will.  Frankly, these are the days we like to call “When even the good go bad.”  

Today in Kindergarten I wiped tears from three children, broke up a lego-destruction incident, had at least three private reviews of the classroom rules with angels in the hallway, and watched two marker box explosions that resulted in a 101 Marker Pick-up game.   All before 11:00.

One strategy that I’ve often found works wonders when wading through a swirling tornado of holiday anticipation is singing.  We sing our way through most of the day, all the while working furiously on glittery crafts for our families!   We sing the line-up song, we sing the Dreidel song, we sing the ABC song, and lately have been singing the Rudolph song. Then, I tried to sing the Twelve Days of Christmas song.  (It was almost as challenging as teaching the Pwedge of Legiant.)  In the end, as we finished our craft marathon, the children decided to craft a song of their own. And so in the spirit of the holiday, here is a gift to you from the children in room 120 at Park Forest Elementary.  (We like to start the song at the end…) 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…
Twelve Jedi’s training;
Eleven Barbie’s shopping;
Ten Dinosaurs fighting;
Nine Star Wars legos;
Eight Ships with chimneys;
Seven Porcupines;
Six Ear Infections;
Five Regaler Grapes;
Four Tom and Jerry’s;
Three Peppers piping;
Two Stuffed Noses;
And A Bald Eagle in a Pine Tree.

And now I will wrap myself up in smiles, memories and my Christmas apron and take myself back to the magical Christmases of my youth.   You know, when I was practically perfect. (At least in December.)

Yes, this was an old one.  However, I am too tired from wrapping presents to send, reprimanding 25 kindergarteners ALL DAY LONG, begging the children to listen, packing for Grand Cayman and shopping for presents I don't need to buy.  Love to all of you. I think of you often and can't wait to get my mind back so I can be normal again.  This master's program AND the kids are kicking my ASS.  (And I'm NOT KIDDING!!) 


Sometimes the most valuable things of all are the ones we can't touch.

I've been trying to find a way to marry my love of writing, the hectic-ness of working and the challenge of nightly master's classes. Like anything we do in our lives, it's a crazy juggling act. However, that's precisely what makes this a life exciting. I am still trying to figure out where my "writing" place is, now that I'm living with my Mr. Wonderful. (And that's another great story....for another time....) I guess it's kind of like Sheldon trying to find a new "spot" after moving into another apartment. (It ain't easy.) But -like Stephen King likes to say - I need to just shut up, sit down and write. Who CARES if you're writing crap! So, I'm going to continue to share some of my writing exercises here, so that I keep these juices flowing. I would adore it if anyone out there would share some of theirs.

What do you value? I mean what do you REALLY value (when no one is looking)?  This is part of a writing exercise from a class I took last fall and LOVED LOVED LOVED.  The class was “Writing for Children” and part of our weekly work always included some type of writing challenge.  I found it incredibly helpful- as it forced me to think of things I might not normally think of- and to write about things I might not normally write about. Questions such as “What do you value?” or “What do you fear?” often caused me FEAR.  Sometimes I’m afraid to look to deeply into my soul, afraid of what I might (or might not) find.

So today, I face that fear.

What do I value?  God, I hope I value things that have some kind of meaning, but here goes.  (In no particular order.)

I value simplicity.   I love a beautiful sunrise as I walk through my neighborhood, and the quiet moments stolen during a busy day.

I value empathy, and those who can feel the pain and sorrow that others are experiencing.

I value a sense of humor. I value the healing power of a deep and hearty laugh, and keep those who make me smile nearby.

I value a single phone call, one that reconnects the heartstrings of those who might live ALL the way across the country.  That one call- the two minutes it takes to remind each other that we love each other, is all it takes to remind my heart that all is well.

I value my belief in a higher power, in a life everlasting and the knowledge that I have guardian angels. I also value those who don’t ridicule me for it.

I value the extraordinary beauty of a fall leaf; the beauty of a single caterpillar, a stunning sunrise and a silent sunset.

I value the wonder of the first firefly of the summer, beckoning its family to come out to play.

I value nature and all its glory.

I value the parents who allow their children to express themselves. In particular, the wearing of the Elsa dress to school every day makes my heart happy.

I value a true friend, who loves you in spite of your flaws and probably because of them.

I value those sincere friends whose bonds of friendship ignore the years between contact and help you celebrate each encounter. The ones who hold you when you cry, and remind you that you are enough.

I value family ties, family bonds, family lore, family heirlooms and loyalty.

I value random acts of kindness and a generous spirit.

I value whimsy, crowns and pink tutus.

I value a medium chocolate ice cream cone dipped in chocolate from Dairy Queen when no one is looking.  (Because come ON, why CAN’T you treat yourself?)