Intro to Poetry, Day 2: Faces

Do you remember the last time we
Explored each other’s faces in the darkness–
Astounded by each eyelash, and by the soft, smooth lips as we
Reached for one another?

And do you also remember how you said that you
Never meant to hurt me but that there was another
Girl waiting for you in the darkness–
Expecting you to come home?
Laying your hand on my face you brushed
Away my tears for the last time.

Note: Today’s topic was ‘Face” which I found really difficult. I thought the challenge was to write an acrostic poem (which I did) but now that I’ve double checked, I realize that I was completely wrong and the actual challenge was to use alliteration, which isn’t as prevalent in my poem as it might have been had I been trying. The best examples of alliteration that I can see are in the first stanza: the final “s” sound repeated in “faces in the darkness” and also in the third line “each eyelash” and “soft, smooth” but it was all unintentional. I have this sinking feeling that tomorrow’s challenge will be to write an acrostic and I’m not sure if I should write another one or reverse the days and try for alliteration tomorrow? What would you do? I guess we’ll see what the theme is.

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.

Intro to Poetry, Day 1: Water

Water

Under the surface
I can’t hear the roaring waves.
It’s calm and peaceful.
I close my eyes and wait.
The silence is lovely.

Notes: I have signed up for a 10 day WordPress “Intro to Poetry” class, which basically means that I get emailed a topic each day for the next ten days that I need to write a poem about, with a suggestion as to the type of poetry. Today’s topic was water and the challenge was to write a haiku. I felt like my haiku was unfinished, so I added two more lines to make it a tanka. I’m not thrilled with it, but I feel so creatively drained that I think anything is better than nothing at this point.

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.

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.

Bell Let’s Talk Day: Some Snippets from My Story

This is a bit of my story about being a highly sensitive person who struggles with depression. There’s lots to share, but I’ve limited it to this particular piece, because it’s not like depression is one giant black hole, but a continuum of ups and downs.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had big dreams. One of these dreams was to be an actor, or a writer. After a short time in First Grade of wanting to work at McDonald’s the girl realized that her real dream was to shine brightly either on the stage or on the page.

The little girl decided that the best way to start making her dreams come true was by participating in any opportunities that came her way.

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

She entered speech festivals and speech competitions, winning trophies and accolades. She auditioned for and received parts in community theatre productions. The little girl was even featured in her local newspaper as an aspiring actor with big dreams.

Then High School happened. After a particularly hard Drama course where the girl felt shy among her older peers, the little girl’s dream of being an actor was somewhat deflated. Her drama teacher used words and misunderstandings to begin to break down her dream. She had known about the power of words, but hadn’t experienced them in such a hurtful way before.

The little girl told herself that she could still attain her dream, but in order to do so, she would need to travel far away to a small university out of province, where the echo of her teacher’s words would be erased and where the shadow of doubt could not follow her. She believed that her dream of being an actor could still be fulfilled.

Then one day the little girl’s dad got sick. During this time she let go of her dream of going to a university far away. In fact, she didn’t want to go to university at all, but her dad, who understood his little girl better than she understood herself, told her that it was best if she did, so she enrolled at the large anonymous university in the nearby city.

Within the first few months of attending classes, the little girl’s father died. At the time of her father’s death, the little girl was lost. She couldn’t hold onto her dreams anymore and so she let them all go.

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Photo Credit: Erika Wittlieb, Pixabay

Note: Each time you tweet today using #BellLetsTalk, Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives. You can find out more about Bell Let’s Talk Day at http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/bell-lets-talk-day

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.