Intro to Poetry, Day 7: Flavour Part 2 (Guest Poet)

Found Poem by H. Julian
Source: Chickadee and Canadian Living Magazines

Notes: Today while I was working on my Found Poem, my eldest son took an interest and decided he’d like to give it a try too. I gave him a few pointers and he got to work. I asked him if they ever read or wrote poetry in school. He said no, the only poetry he had heard was in our house when I read it to him. This made me kind of sad. I think it’s important for young children to learn poetry. I know that teachers are overloaded with things they are expected to teach, but I really hope that the Arts are not sacrificed as a response to this pressure. In the meantime, I plan to have more poetry writing (and reading) sessions with my son this summer since we both enjoyed the experience.

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Thoughtful Thank You Gifts for Teachers

First off, I don’t want to discourage you from giving gifts to your child’s teacher. It’s a lovely, thoughtful idea. But please make sure it’s thoughtful. People often seem to forget  that teachers are individuals. A one-size-fits-all gift is not the way to go. The homemade baking may be left on the staff room table at the end of the day due to allergies, food restrictions or preferences. The scented soaps and hand lotions might be left behind for similar reasons.  And almost every teacher I know has enough mugs.

Of course, one might argue that it’s the thought that counts, and this is definitely true, but if this is your argument, then please be thoughtful. If you know that your teacher loves fly fishing, then by all means get her some hooks. But if you don’t know, resist the impulse to lump all teachers together.  Teachers are individuals too. It doesn’t cost much to be thoughtful–the gifts I treasured the most during my time as a third grade teacher were thoughtful cards written by either parents or the students themselves.

For the past couple of years, our children have given their teachers something concrete for the classroom and we have given a donation to a local charity in their honour. Teachers spend an awful lot of their own money furnishing their classrooms. Even things as small as a few new Hot Wheels for the Kindergarten car centre or a couple of books for the classroom library are appreciated. I like this type of giving. I feel like it is a win-win-win-win. My kids have something tangible to give their teachers, I get a tax receipt, the charity benefits, and the teacher has a card to read about the impact they had on my children over the course of the school year.

If  a charitable donation is not something you are interested in, there are other thoughtful ways to thank your children’s teacher. Buying an item for the classroom without the charitable donation is thoughtful as well. I also like the idea of amazon gift cards because this gives teachers the option to buy some items for their classroom or to spend on themselves. And who isn’t able to find something at amazon these days? They don’t just sell books anymore.

And when in doubt, just say it. If your kids are old enough have them write a note to the teacher about what makes him so special. As a parent take a moment to jot a few things down on a thank you card about how your child’s teacher has made a difference. These words will be remembered on the tough days and the good days.

Remember: teachers will love anything a child gives them and will appreciate any and all thank you gestures. In this way, we are alike. But please keep in mind that we are also individuals. But as long as you’re okay with knowing that your #1 Teacher mug might wind up at the Sally Ann, just give’r.

Have a great summer break!

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

 

Whose Day is it Anyway? Mother’s Day or Grandmother’s Day?

Here in North America, the second Sunday of May is called Mother’s Day, a day set aside to recognize and celebrate mothers and maternal figures. However, I’ve noticed that in the last several years, a significant number of my mum friends and acquaintances are busy making reservations for brunch, purchasing groceries and tidying their houses in preparation for a dinner…if this day is supposed to be about the mothers, why are they spending so much time and preparation to celebrate themselves? And if they aren’t planning elaborate celebrations for themselves on Mother’s Day, then for whom are they planning?

The answer, perhaps not surprisingly is grandmothers. To those of us who are mothers of young children now, we have a greater respect and perhaps understanding of what our mothers did (or did not) do for us, and we’d like to show our appreciation. In a society where it is extremely difficult to find reliable, affordable, and secure childcare, many families turn to grandparents as the best (and often only) solution. So it’s great that today’s mums want to honour their mums on this special day, but somehow I feel that it loses some of the meaning for them–the mums who are doing their best each and every day to care for their children–who are just that, children–not grown adults with families of their own.

Wikipedia states that Mother’s Day “is the most popular day of the year to dine out at a restaurant in the United States and Americans spend approximately $2.6 billion on flowers, $1.53 billion on pampering gifts—like spa treatments—and another $68 million on greeting cards.” How much of this money is being spent on “mums only” as opposed to “mums/grandmums”? Social media like Pinterest and Facebook often seems to promote the idea that mums need to make Mother’s Day special and better…for their own mums and in many cases, mother-in-laws, and in some cases their grandmothers as well. I had one friend tell me that she wasn’t sure how she would be able to organize Mother’s Day this year in order to see her mother, her step-mother, her partner’s mother, and 3 grandmothers! I wonder how long my friend will have to wait for her turn to catch her breath on Mother’s Day.

I don’t think we should forget about or discount the impact of grandmothers. They are also mothers and have been lucky enough to live long enough to see their children become parents. It’s important to celebrate and acknowledge them. But…I really feel that today’s mothers who are tired of doing load after load of laundry, tired of rushing home straight from work to soccer practice, tired of making meals that are criticized and rejected–tired of being tired, who need that break the most.

Mother's Day 2012. Photo by T. Wilkie

Mom and Baby. Photo Credit: T. Wilkie

So to all mums out at a Mother’s Day brunch who are trying to keep their kids from spilling chocolate milk all over the table while Grandma sips her tea, to all mums who have pleaded and cajoled with their kids to “please wear the dress Grandma gave you so we can finish tidying the house and get the turkey in the oven so that we’re ready for when she arrives”–try to find a moment today to celebrate you. This is your day. Our day. Mother’s Day. You are worth it. If you are unable to find a moment this afternoon because you are busy dividing your time between grandmas and great-grandmas, please take a moment either tonight before bed or first thing tomorrow morning  (I realize that you will have to get up extra early because you have to make lunches for daycare and get the kids ready for school but this is worth it) to sit down at your calendar and turn to May 13, 2018 and write: MY DAY! I AM WORTH IT! Then turn back to April 13, 2018 (since lots of mums plan ahead) and write: MOTHER’S DAY! DON’T MAKE BRUNCH RESOS! Underline the word Mother!

And next year, take those mothers who are now grandmothers out for lunch on a Thursday in May. Send them some flowers. Have your kids make cards and crafts for them. Give them a call and tell them you love them. But on May 13, 2018, do what you want to do. No excuses. It’s YOUR day. You are worthy of it. You have earned it and by god(s), you deserve it.

P.S. Both my mother and my partner’s mother are very gracious in acknowledging and recognizing that today is Mother’s Day and for this, I love and appreciate them even more. And I will wish them both a Happy Mother’s Day, but only after I’ve enjoyed some well deserved time for me.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Encyclopedia Brown, 2017

My son, aged 8,
Began reading Donald J. Sobol’s
Encyclopedia Brown
Books today.

Books that I loved
When I was eight.
Always trying but never quite able
To solve the mysteries.

My son’s first question
To me about the books
Is not in relation to the mysteries,
But about the character’s name:

“Why do they call him Encyclopedia?”

“Good question,” I say, not sure how to answer;

For the days of Encyclopedia Britannicas
Lined up A to Z on the library shelves,
Heavy and somber with knowledge
Are long, long gone.

Photo Credit: Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Jarmoluk, Pixabay

Notes: If you (or your 8 year old) haven’t had the pleasure of reading Donald J. Sobol’s Encyclopedia Brown series, I highly recommend them. First published in 1963, they are one part Sherlock Holmes, one part brain teaser, and one part old-fashioned fun.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Holiday Book List 2016: The First Book

This is the third year that we’ve done a Book Advent Calendar, where the kids open a holiday book for us to read aloud. Each year, I add a few new books, and take a few out of the rotation. This is the first year that Chanukah hasn’t happened in the middle of December (it starts on December 24th) since I’ve been doing the calendar, so this year’s selection will only contain Christmas books. My children are 8, 5 and 5 this Christmas, so it’s always an interesting and enjoyable selection process to find books that appeal to both ages.

A couple of years ago, a friend asked me to share the books we read during this time. Here’s a quick summary of today’s book, Merry Christmas, Strega Nona written and illustrated by Tomie de Paola. I highly recommend it for children of all ages, both for the charming story (although not as good as the original Caldecott winning Strega Nona) and the wonderful pictures.

Advent 2016 The first five books.

Advent 2016
The first five books.

Strega Nona and Big Anthony are getting ready for Christmas and Strega Nona’s legendary Christmas Eve feast. Big Anthony wants Strega Nona to use her magic to help speed things along, but Strega Nona insists that “Christmas has a magic of its own”. With the help of Bambolona and other villagers, Big Anthony manages to find some Christmas magic of his own to share with Strega Nona.

If you’d like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me: judyamy74(at)gmail.com or tweet me @JudyAmy74.

Moments in a Day: October 1st

It’s been 23 years today since my dad died. Grief is such a strange, personal thing. Some years on this day I feel just a whisper of sadness and other years my grief is loud and long. Some years I relive the entire day as it played out so many years ago, and other years I merely glance at the clock and recognize that yes, this was that moment–the moment my brother came in to my place of employment to tell me that it was time to go to the hospital, the moment when I called my friend to tell her I couldn’t go out with her that night because my dad had died, the moment when the doctors brought me a tiny pill to try to stop the wailing and hyperventilating that was coming from me–so many moments in an ordinary (to everyone else) day.

This year is one of the in between years of grief for me. It helps that I had to shuttle the twins to a birthday party this morning, and then return to collect our oldest, pack a lunch and head to the RWB Studio for dance classes. Keeping busy helps. But it doesn’t stop me from pausing and recognizing the moments. And realizing (or re-realizing) that my dad will never be at one of my children’s ballet recitals. Or Holiday concerts. Or anything at all. And then my heart begins to really hurt and long for what is lost.

Autumn Scene

Autumn Scene Photo by unsplash http://www.pixabay.com

Sitting in the Starbucks
Across the street from the dance studio
Waiting for the kids to finish
Ballet class,
I glance up at the clock.
It is 11:35.

Ten minutes until ballet class is over.

Ten minutes until I first knew that today was the day you would die.

In a few moments I will walk back and collect two kids from ballet
And send another one in to the next class.

In a few moments I will dash from the table I am serving,
Nodding at my boss that I need to leave.

I’ve been waiting for this moment.

There will be so many
more moments today

At a certain point this afternoon I will pick up a book from the library
That’s been on hold for me.

At a certain point this afternoon I will call my friend and cancel
Our evening plans.

At 8:00 this evening I will tuck my children in to bed
And tell them how dear they are to me.
‘I love you’ I will say.

At 8:00 this evening I will stand by your bedside
And tell you how dear you are to me.
‘I love you’ I will say.

And the words will seem inadequate
And they are.
Yet they are
All I have to offer.

October 1.
A day made up of moments.
Moments to remember.

 If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74

On Coughs, Colds, and Carrying On

My head is aching from
This lousy sinus cold that’s been going around.
The Tylenol I’m popping just isn’t cutting it.
As soon as one cough drop is finished I start
Another one although the soothing action promised
On the wrapper is limited at best.

I feel miserable
And long to crawl under the covers to sleep it off
But I continue to carry on,
With a pocketful of cough drops and Kleenexes–
some used, some new.
At this point, I don’t really care.

Chugging from a bottle of Sudafed,
I sign the field trip consent form,
RSVP to a birthday party,
Search for a missing rubber boot
And listen to my eldest
Do his daily Home Reading.

Woman Blowing Nose (Mojpe, Pixabay)

Woman Blowing Nose (Mojpe, Pixabay)

I’m a mom.
There’s no time for me
To have a cough or a cold or
God forbid,
a combination of the two.

There is only cough syrup,
Kleenex, and
Carrying on.

If you would like to contact me about this post or about anything else you’ve read please email me at: judyamy74(at)gmail(dot)com or tweet me @JudyAmy74