Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Resolutions, Smesolutions...

It's 57 minutes and 0ne second to the new year, and I'm thinking about resolutions. Just thinking because I don't really believe in making them. Why bother? Yes, I could lose another 10 pounds, and yes, I could probably give up a million and one things, but for some reason, if I make a public declaration that I'm going to do something- anything- I generally shoot myself in the foot and create my own failure. So, if I don't make a resolution and just happen to lose 10 pounds- great, and if I don't- well, that's ok, too. There are many more important things in life. I've been thinking a lot about Grandpop lately, and from the time I was a kid, I've thought if I could be half the person he was, I'd be a pretty decent person. That's something I can concentrate on now- being that person- taking time each day to reflect on what I can do better or differently. I can take the time to make a difference for someone else. Instead of working on making myself look better on the outside, I can work on being better on the inside. This isn't a resolution because I can't promise I'll succeed every day, but what I can promise is that I'll remember Grandpop's example and try to live up to what he would want me to be. I'll remember to laugh at myself and to find joy in the simple things. I'll remember that each child I teach is the best that his/her parents have and try to see each one from his/her parent's eyes. And I'll remember to follow my heart because it's so much smarter than my head. Last, I'll say what I'm feeling even though some might think it's cheesy... I love you my family and friends. You're all so important to me, and you light up my life in more ways than you know.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hanukkah and Christmas converge

I've been Jewish for nearly twenty years now, and though I can't imagine being anything else, I have to admit there's something about Christmas that gets me. Maybe it's the memories of my own childhood. I remember, as a little girl, getting into the car with my mom and sister and brothers on Christmas Eve to go to the local fire station to buy a Christmas tree. By Christmas Eve the pickin's were slim, but it didn't matter- they were also affordable. We'd go back to our house - I particularly remember doing this in Warner Robins, Georgia- on the Air Force base- and spend the evening decorating the tree. The best years were the few where we were able to visit Grandmom and Grandpop in New Jersey. We'd all gather at their house along with aunts, uncles, and cousins on Christmas Eve. We'd cram in around the dining room table for good food and lots of laughter- Grandmom filling our bellies - often tossing the few leftover vegetables on top of dessert, and Grandpop filling our souls with his funny, poignant stories. After dinner, we'd all help clear the table, and Grandpop would wash the dishes while we fought over who would be his dish dryer. With plenty of dishtowels to go around, we all helped. Finally, we'd adjourn into the living room, where a tall evergreen stood next to the stairs, and Santa Claus would come to hand out presents. Grandmom would get talked into playing the piano, and we'd sing at the top of our lungs. Though we've made our own Hanukkah memories over the years, the Christmas ones from my childhood are irreplaceable. These days when I find myself in the car on the way to who knows where, I often turn up the radio, and I swear I hear Grandmom on the piano and Grandpop leading the rest of us in singing those old tunes I remember so well, and I have to sing along. Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Another one down!

Child number four, Alana, graduated from University of Texas at Brownsville this weekend, so we all piled into two cars and made the trek down to be a part. Kristinn (number 1) even came in from Virginia to join us, so it was wonderful to spend some time with her too. It was in the 80's in Brownsville, and graduation was outside- a beautiful breezy day. The only downside to the day was the keynote speaker who was awful. He spoke about how great HE was and had very little to say that would motivate anyone. Universities need to do a better job at screening their speakers. BUT, the good news is that Alana is now finished. She wants to pursue a Master's - probably in Linguistics. After graduation, Kristinn and I headed back to San Antonio for my final show. We had a completely packed house- had to add chairs, and it was a great night. Afterward a few of us went out to eat and laughed 'til we cried. Kristinn had to leave on Sunday afternoon, so it was a short visit, but we're glad we got to spend time with her. Alana and Jake got here today and will be spending a week. I'm off for two weeks, and maybe I'll get something done- maybe not...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Opening Night!

Well, my play, In God's Hands, opened tonight to a full house. It was a little nerve-wracking, but it went off great, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Rachel and Alana were there with Aden, so they can tell you if it was really any good or not...I am so lucky, though. Not only do I have the best director in town at the helm, but I have the best actors, too. They've taken my script and they've turned it into a show! There was only one small error tonight that just cracked me up. The guy playing the rabbi is supposed to say, "God's miracles aren't like that..." but instead he said, "God doesn't bake challah like that." Act I ends with the "Challah Rap," and when I wrote the song, I had no idea how funny it would be. That's thanks to the actors who are just hilarious. They do all of the sound effects and get the entire audience involved. During intermission, I asked Aden if he had sung with the actors, and he spouted off the beginning of the chorus. So, all in all, I felt pretty darn good about it. Five more shows to go..aiyiyi.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I honestly don't believe that kids are born bad. Something happens along the way, and it too often comes from watching their parents- their first role models- make poor choices themselves. Even worse, though, is the parent who enables his/her child. If they don't have consequences when they're little kids, and their parents constantly "bail" them out of every difficulty, they (the kids) are most likely going to continue to make poor decisions and get into more and more trouble. I've had more people than I can count ask me how we managed to raise 6 successful, great kids, and my answer to that is #6 isn't quite raised yet, so ask me again in about three years. But seriously, I think we have to let them make mistakes and they have to have consequences for those mistakes. If they make them when they're young, they're going to learn from them and hopefully not make too many bigger ones when they're older. We can keep them out of the alternative school (the place students are sent for big offenses like drugs and weapons or chronic misbehavior), but we can't wait until they're in middle school to start. Loving your kids enough to hold them responsible for their actions is part of a parent's job, and it's better to have a 5 year old a little angry with you than to have to bail your 16 year old out of jail.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ready, set, go!

It's back to the schoolhouse tomorrow, and time is going to start flying! My students will take their state writing test in just a few months, and the pressure is on. I don't worry too much about it as I have amazing students, but many 7th graders just don't have the maturity to write the kinds of narratives they're expected to write, so we have to hit it hard. The difficult part for teachers is to keep it interesting when we know the topics they'll receive on the test are anything but. I want the kids to LOVE writing...

On a personal note, Rachel and I went shopping yesterday and had Abram with us. Aden stayed home with Greg, taking a nap. We stopped and bought soft pretzels on our way out of the mall, and as we were driving home, Abram said, "I'm eating my pretzel; eating my pretzel..." and I said, "That sounds like a song, Abram," so he added a little tune and started to sing, "I'm eating my pretzel song, eating my pretzel sooooonnnnng." He is hilarious. And he's not even two years old yet!

I think I'll go have some leftover Thanksgiving pie and try to figure out what I'm going to do tomorrow...

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I read this morning that people in the U.S. gain an average of 9 lbs. between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think I gained at least that much just today! Jordan outdid herself once again, and with everyone bringing something, we had enough food for each person to take leftovers home and then some. Even the dogs had a Thanksgiving dinner for which they were very happy. At the table, Abram said, "Get my mashed tatoes now, Mommy!" He's a little bossy boy. He also entertained us with the "Eencey Weencey Spider" song, while his big brother Aden, figured out a new puzzle Aunt Jorgie bought him- in record time. By the time everyone left, we were all high on pie and other desserts: chocolate pie, chocolate pecan pie, pumpkin pie, brownies, citrus squares, pumpkin spice cake, and more. If I see another pie, I'll.... probably eat it. :) And now, Alan is doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen. And I'm relaxing and wondering if I'll fit into my clothes any time soon. Maybe that was supposed to be 9 pounds for Thanksgiving and another 9 for Christmas. But, hey, we have 8 nights of Hanukkah. How will that add up??? Aiyiyi.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanks- giving

Thanksgiving is almost here, and I have so much for which to be thankful. Right now I'm sitting here at the computer with my 2 amazing dogs (Angus and Neptune) at my feet. Alan and Eli and our friend Karl from Alpine just left for the store to pick up a "few more things." Jordan is cooking all of the sides tomorrow, and she's an amazing cook. Big Bubbe is bringing pies, and I'll add a couple of my own plus some appetizers and other desserts. Rachel, Greg, Aden and Abram will be here. Sadly, I'll be missing Kristinn, Tim, Gabe, and Sofia, Ryan and Vicki , Alana and Jake. Alana was planning to come, but it didn't work out, and everyone else is too far away, but they'll all be here in spirit, I'm sure. Today, Rachel and family came over, and she and I took the boys to play at the park. We had another beautiful day and lots of fun. But the highlight of the day was when Abram followed me into the bathroom and said, "Where's your wienie, Bubbe?" Of course he was completely serious, but how can you keep a straight face on that one?
I ran into a former student earlier today, and that's always neat- especially when I remember his/her name, which is getting harder and harder to do. It's funny because I'll remember "kids" I had over 25 years ago, but I have difficulty remembering the names of ones I had just last year. I recognize them, but sometimes the names escape me. The guy who helps run the bowling alley where Eli bowls is a former student of mine, one former is now an Assistant Principal at another middle school in my district, and my own son-in-law once sat in my classroom. Isn't that just kinda cool?! Well, I've gone all over the place with this blog, but the bottom line is that I am lucky and very blessed and hope that all of you who read this have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I just started adding pictures, so my fabulous family, bear with me. It may take the next several months to upload pics of all of you. Just know that I love you all the same, and I'll get to everyone eventually. :) It seems easy, but I'm not very fast, and getting these few on the site took me over an hour. I will continue...but not right now. I'm heading for a nice long soak in the tub.

A Warm Weather Girl

My sister lives in Alaska (actually Unalaska in Dutch Harbor of the Aleutians) and once in awhile I'm a little jealous because she gets to play in the snow. But then, on days like today, I get a bit of "WHAT are you THINKING?" rattling through my head. For one- I don't like the cold, and for another, today in San Antonio, we had the most gorgeous day. Here we are in NOVEMBER, and it was up to about 80 degrees. The sun was shining, and the breeze was just enough to rustle the leaves in the trees. It was a perfect day for a picnic, so instead of meeting a friend for lunch at a restaurant as planned, I called her back and said, "How about I pick up lunch, and we go to the park instead?" And we did, and it was lovely. There were deer grazing nearby, and a few other people with the same idea picknicking with their kids. You know, I think we could have stayed there for hours eating and talking and enjoying the peacefulness of the outdoors. I definitely want to visit Jane in Alaska one of these days, but I am so lucky to live where I do. When July comes 'round, if you hear me complaining about the heat, please remind me of that...

Monday, November 24, 2008

A Whole Week Off!

In 28 years of teaching, I've noticed certain idiosyncrasies some of us have. We are so excited when a new school year begins. We can smell the school supplies when we walk into stores, and it's like perfume to us. We're meeting at the school to get ready before we have to, and we're making big plans for "this year." But then, after about a week with our new charges, we find ourselves walking down the hall, and the conversation goes something like this: Me- "How's it going?" Mr. G.- "Only 4 days until Labor Day!" Ms. P. "Really? I don't think I'll make it!" From then on, time is marked by the next holiday. Thanksgiving gives us a week off, Christmas and New Year's Day add up to two weeks. There's the week of Spring Break, and then summer is right behind it. Two and a half glorious months... And you know what? About two weeks into summer, we're going stir crazy. We're calling each other, making plans for another year. We miss our classrooms and our kids, and we can't wait to walk into Target in August and smell those school supplies. I LOVE my job!