Monthly Archives: July 2014

Summer is Slipping By

slow down summer

How can tomorrow be August already?  Summer vacation goes by so quickly.  So many people think that teachers have it easy with their summers off, but many of them, me included, have to work during the summer.  Our school district pays us on a ten month scale so there is no salary coming in if I don’t work in the summer too.  I don’t make nearly as much in my summer job as I do teaching, but it is a lot less work and a great break for the summer.  It just means that there is not a lot of free time to get away.

When I was growing up, we spent the whole month of August in The Poconos.  As a kid, it was one of my favorite things about the summer.  We try to get the kids up there over the weekends in the summer, but this year was filled with baseball games on the weekends and we didn’t make it up there.  The next few weekends are filled with weddings and family commitments so I don’t foresee us getting there anytime soon.   When the kids were little, we headed down to Long Beach Island for a week for a few summers.  We don’t live far from the ocean and we need to take more advantage of that.  My big dream for when I win the lottery some day 😉 😉 is to buy a home on the ocean that I can escape to whenever I want to.

There is one more week of summer camp for me and then a brief overnight trip to Connecticut to look at a few colleges with DJ.  That’s our big “trip” for the summer this year.  Sometimes I feel guilty for not being able to provide the kids with more vacations but we still try to make the summers fun for them.  A trip to Six Flags Great Adventure with Dave, baseball games, camp for Drew, the town pool…. there isn’t a shortage of things to do but it is always nice to get away for awhile.

School doesn’t start up again until the first week of September so we will try to fill up August with a lot of fun activities.  Next year at this time, we will be packing DJ up for college around this time!!  Time really does fly by!

A Letter in the Mail

snail mail

When I was a little girl, I loved getting mail.  A letter addressed to only me!!  I had a few pen pals and got letters from my cousins now and then and every time those letters arrived in the mailbox, I treasured them.  I am sure if I looked hard enough, I could find some of them still scattered around my old bedroom of my dad’s house!  My brothers, sister and I would pick up  the mail everyday always hoping to find something in the pile for us.  Unless it was near our birthday, it was usually just a pile of bills and junk mail for my parents.

In college, (long before email or cell phones,) Dave and I wrote to each other all of the time.  I have those letters saved somewhere too.  I should dig them up.  I am sure there would be some great memories there!!!

These days, letters come even more infrequently.  With the ease of email, texts and the internet, it seems that a handwritten letter is a thing of the past.  About two weeks ago, I got a “real letter” in the mail from one of my students.  It was such a treat to find when I looked through the stack of bills and flyers that arrived in the mail slot that day.  It brought back so many memories of getting mail as a child.  I decided that I was going to hand-write and mail a letter to each of the students  in my class.  I didn’t want them all to be the same so it took me a few days to write all 23 of them.  They were just a small note written on a small note card asking about their summer and telling them a little bit about mine.

I mailed them over the weekend and I know that a bunch have already been received because I have seen some of the children and they have told me that they got them and a few parents emailed me to tell me how excited their child was to get that note in the mail. I even got a letter mailed back to me in response to one of them already.  It is great reading practice for them and if they decide to write back, then a great writing activity as well.

This was so easy for me to do.  I don’t know why I never thought of doing it before.  I have a feeling it will become something I do every summer from now on!

From the Garden

smell the roses

I haven’t ever had much luck with gardening.  I have gorgeous rose bushes along the side of my house that were planted by the previous owner, Mrs. Werthman, who lived in this house for 65 years.  I would not be surprised if those rose bushes were nearly that old!  She was an avid gardener and all of the plants around the house were from when she lived here.  I do nothing to take care of them, yet they come back year after year and the roses are absolutely stunning.  There is a huge rhododendron and azalea bush in the yard as well.   Again, all from her.  I often look toward heaven to thank Mrs. Werthman when they are in their full glory because they’d never be there if it weren’t for her.

Earlier this month I wrote about the vegetable garden that is growing at our camp.  In just the four weeks that we have been there, our sunflowers have grown tall and are ready to be planted in the ground.  The plants that were merely sprouts when we arrived are now producing hearty fruits and vegetables that are ready to eat.  I saw someone eating apples off one of the small trees this morning.  Mrs. D who has been leading us through the gardening process gave us some Swiss Chard  that I plan on making pesto out of tonight.  She also left a cucumber for me that I will try to make some pickles out of.  I found a simple pickle recipe yesterday and attempted a batch and they came out great.  Delicious in fact.  Even DJ,  ate them!

All of this has motivated me to try to grow my own vegetable garden next summer.  It is too late to do it this year, but as I see the incredible things growing in other people’s gardens, I am inspired to try it myself!  I will start small and I am looking for tips and advice from fellow gardeners out there!  I don’t have a lot of space for a garden, but after seeing the results of our camp garden, I am ready to attempt it!

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Just another day at work!

cool teacher

I would be lying if I said my summer job wasn’t fun.  It is camp – and what isn’t fun about camp?  Riding ponies, swimming, movies, amusement parks….we have a great time everyday with our campers.  Today was another fun one!  We went to the pool, like we do three times a week, every week but this time, there was an obstacle course set up for the campers.  It looked much easier than it was!

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The course started in the water so you had to pull yourself up on to the apparatus and stay on it, jump over an obstacle without landing in the water, climb the slippery wall and cross the tall one without falling off.  The campers LOVED it.  One of them must have gone it at least eight times!  The lifeguards held races for the kids as they raced over it.  Of course, the counselors were dying to try it as well.  I have done at least five mud runs, but was almost as nervous for this one because so many of my former students were there watching!  Not only would I have to be in a bathing suit in front of all of them, (anyone who reads this blog regularly knows my struggles with self-image and knows how hard this is for me,) but I also had to try not to embarrass myself in front of all of them!!

Our camp director, who also teaches at my school, wanted to do it as well, so I figured if she was going to do it, so would I.  The two of us jumped in and the lifeguards told us when to start.  It sounds silly because obviously the course was in the water, but I never expected it to be so slippery!  There were handles but my feet didn’t want to hang on!  I made up that little hill and we ran across the short ramp together, jumped into the pit and had to climb back up out of the water.  Lugging my body over that wasn’t easy!  Our director agreed!  That was the hardest part! I made it across the next two parts fairly easily.  I don’t even think the whole thing took us a total of two minutes yet we felt like we accomplished something! Not just that we did it, because it really wasn’t that hard…but that we did it in front of all those kids.  Who knows, maybe it gave us a bump up on the “cool teacher” ladder 🙂

Erasing

empathy

Today, Dave went to the park with sandpaper and sanded out the graffiti that was on my mom’s bench.  That post that I wrote on Friday, wound up getting so many comments and responses to it!  Most agreeing with me, that there is no reason for it.  Friends told me how it made them sad or angry.  Others agreed that it was just a thoughtless act. Some tried to justify graffiti – not it if was done in a destructive manner, but when done as art, calling it interesting and beautiful.  I can see their point of view IF it is done in the right element.

Unfortunately, these two things were destructive and pointless.  The bench was not hard to fix.  I am grateful to Dave for doing it.  That area of the bench is back to its original color.  In a few months, after it begins to weather again, no one will ever even notice that there was something there.  If only it were that easy to clean up the graffiti at my school.  That will take a lot more work I am sure.

I think what has crossed my mind most seeing this, is just wondering if the people who do this have any idea that they are inflicting sorrow on others.  If they really thought about it, would they feel empathy because what might seem meaningless to them, really has an impact on others.

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A Gift From My Mom

mother daugther

Today, I went to a store that my mom used to frequent often.  I hadn’t been there in awhile and while I was there, one of the employees asked what my mom’s phone number had been.  I wasn’t sure why she was asking, but I told her and she left me for a few moments.  When she came back she handed me a store card that had bonus credits on it from when my mom had shopped there.  There were quite a few points on it!!  Even though it has been months since she died, they were still there lying dormant I guess.

The woman had taken those points and transferred them to me.  She told me that I could use them towards another purchase at the store.  A pleasant surprise that was handed over to me today.  A gift from mom.  I had just been thinking about her at the time too. She loved this place and she loved when we went there together.  It was if she knew I was there.

Thanks mom!

Vandalized

dalai lama

When I see something vandalized, I often wonder why.  Especially when it is done in a place or to something that seems to have no reason behind it. Is it rebellion? Revenge?  Defiance? Someone looking for entertainment?  A form of art? Why would someone feel that it was okay to destroy or deface something that is not theirs?  It has always fascinated me. Perhaps because I am such a rule follower.  Perhaps they don’t realize that they are upsetting others when they express themselves.  Are they trying to get noticed?

Vandalizing is defined as when one individual or group deliberately destroys or damages a piece of property that is usually owned by someone else.

Last weekend, I was with a friend at our school’s playground and we noticed that the wall on the back of the school had been vandalized.  Someone had painted something on it.  I am still not sure what it says. “Stomp?” “Stoup?”

I took a photo of it and sent it to our principal.  She was already aware of it and had notified the head of building maintenance and grounds and it will be taken care of.  But I still have to wonder, why?  What is the purpose of this?

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Today, we were in the park with our campers and I showed my director my mom’s bench.  When I went to it, I noticed someone had written on it in black marker.  Again, something that means absolutely nothing.  At least not to us.  Why?

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 We were just there last week, on her birthday and it wasn’t there.  I don’t think it will be hard to remove the writing from the bench but why should we have to?   The school wall and the benches in town are not a canvas.  They are not there for people to deface or damage.

It isn’t just writing or painting though. Dave was at a field playing soccer last week and when he arrived, the field hockey goals had been destroyed.

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We both say that we feel old and preachy but we really are starting to think, “Kids today…what are they thinking?  How can they not appreciate what they have?”  Yet, even as a kid, I didn’t do things like that.  I would never have even thought to destroy the property of someone else.

I guess in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t the worst thing that could happen but then again, I wonder if there is any remorse?  If they aren’t caught and punished for these “minor” things, will the crimes become bigger and more drastic as they get older?  I certainly hope not.