Seriously, here I sit in my hotel room in Little Rock waiting for a meeting to start TOMORROW. I am such a moron. I have been so busy lately that my calendar has really taken a beating. When I checked in the hotel and the nice clerk said " Ms Mays, your reservation isnt until tomorrow, " I should have known I had made a tragic mistake. She was right, I have arrived a day early. What to do?
A couple friends suggested a SPA day. See, the idea is to relieve stress. I am sure my arrival on the early day is a master plan of the Lord. He is looking out for me and knew I needed to chill out. The funny thing is, as I was about 10 miles out of Siloam, I realized I had left my books at home. I had planned to make a study sheet for a final next week. I didnt want to turn around. So, I cant even do do that. The Lord again.... So, back to the SPA day, the idea is to reduce the stress and the thought of a stranger manipulating fat on my body causes me the utmost stress. I am sure I have a few kinks in there that could be worked out --- but nada. :)
So, I am back to what to do?
Zoo...? No, kinda cloudy outside.
Shopping? No, too much stuff already.
Children's Museum? maybe....
Read? Me, You and Us - Social/emotional learning in preschool, sound fun?
Work on a presentation I have coming up? Might be a good idea
TV? Not into that...
Sleep - once I am up , I am up
So many possibilities.
Thank you Lord for forcing me to slow down today. I know I have needed this. I keep saying , if I can just make it to August... Obviously, you know that I couldn't. I don't know what you have in store for me today, but whatever it is, I am sure it will be a blessing.
Today I returned to the school that embraces the Reggio Emelia style of teaching . This time I had Randy in tow. I knew the day would be full of adventure as we pulled in and I couldnt drag him away from the fence that the peacocks were strutting around in. Other surprises met us before we even got to the door. There were two little guys sitting outside by the garden documenting " something" on their little clipboards. As we went in we were told to " have fun" and that we did. I took off to the purple room - my favorite. The children were outside and one of the teachers was doing an assessment on a child. I had taken all this in ( the room ) when I visited last time, so this time , I was watching Randy, and his expressions- trying to read what he thought. He barely made it in the room and was started as two little girls and one boy were in the bathroom ( two on the potty) and having a conversation. He said " Does she know they are in here...?" - he whispered. Yes.. I reply, she does. Randy is still getting a grip on who comes to inspect us for what ... and he sometimes gets the standards a little confused. The only clear cut inspector that comes for us now days is the water heater man, and well - it is the water heater man. As Randy was taking it all in, he would ask me questions. Mostly they were" We can't do that can we?" And for the most part he pointed out safety issues - It was hard to explain to him that they were NAEYC accredited ( not ECCRS ) and in another state
( which had different height requirements for equipment.)
After we left and drove away we were reflecting on our observations. Of course, he said where are their music instruments? That is an important part of our life . Each room had two or three instruments but they usually were just mixed among the materials and you didnt hear singing. Not the teacher. Not the kids...
Then he asked, " Where were the books?" We have books in almost every center... or maybe even every center. Hmmm.. I didnt notice. Where were the books? I know they had some because I saw two of the teachers reading one during group time.
Then was the kicker question. " Did you see any children smiling and having fun?" What is so " sally stop the street car " about that one is- I asked the same question on my first trip. I thought maybe I was being too critical or just not seeing it the way I should. I did ask a couple colleagues on the last trip what they thought and they said the children were more focused.
So, at 3 , 4 , and 5 years old - do I want focus or happy?
The teachers were not mean at all.... they were encouraging.
We are not mean and encouraging but you hear happy all over the place in our house.
Do our kids focus?
Can you focus and be happy?
Fast foward - we are headed back for the training tonight. I am excited . Randy- reluctant but a team player.
The Atelierista who was there was supposed to be the only true one in the states at this point. The lady from Italy ( dont remember her name right now and too tired to google it!) came over here and worked with her for a year. AnAtelieristais an artist that facilitates the curriculum development through different art mediums. ( That was my own very weak definition.)
Here was the structure of the workshop. She talked about materials and how you should think " outside the box " when offering materials to the children. She challenged us to take 1 inch squares of paper to manipulate as many ways as we could. We did.
Then, she talked about making things out of found objects. We each were to take something off the table and go through some questions from an artist ... like what was this originally? Where did it come from? What is it made of? I had a piece of orange vinyl that was embossed. I had no idea what it was. I thought it looked a but like a reflector. I took my scissors and cut slits and before I knew it I created a chinese lantern. Now, as I think back, it is really cool the thought process that got me there. Reflector, light, lantern. I guess that is somewhat how kids think.
Randy made something out of corrugated cardboard. It also had styrofoam packing peanuts. He broke the rule... she said one material; :) He also made a small purse out of my leftover scraps. Not only did he get in touch with his feminine side, but called it his stimulus package . It was about the size of a matchbox.
As we finished Jennifer walked around and stopped to take a close up of my lantern and ask me about it . Randy, I think was offended as she walked away, he moved his little cardboard creation a little closer to mine.
When they asked for sharing I was a little nervous as I was the novice in the room but I did speak up. She asked for our reflections or thoughts. I said , " As an adult , I struggled with what I thought this was .. and where it came from. I would imagine as a child, that thought process is a little more difficult as they dont have as many experiences to draw on. As the teacher in the room, I think this would create a great opportunity for language. You could help GUIDE ( WRONG WORD) the children . You could ask what they thought it was...? etc" So, I got shot down. She said she wants to caution us about " guiding the children" in any way. GREAT JOB DEBBIE, opening your mouth. You KNEW to sit there an listen. As she talked , the rest of the time, these are the things that went through my head.
1. Is it so wrong to talk to the kids and create a language rich classroom?
2. If I dont teach them language , who will?
3. Why did I use the work GUIDE, that wasnt really what I meant.
4. It is hot in here?
5. Did I really just pay 100.00 to tear paper, create a chinese lantern and be told that language isnt important?
6. I would rather be listening to Natasha Crosby teach anything else right now.
So, I left discouraged.
I love the open ended materials. I love creating a sense of wonder. I love not " fixing everything" for the kids...
I also love the sounds of giggles and games. I love the long conversations and exchanges I have with the kids each day. I love our music and the bands the kids create.
I pretty much love the way I do what I do right now. I have evolved so much in the past ten years. Maybe ten years from now I will be ready for Reggio,
Yesterday was my birthday. I did get to get away and have a little "me" time. I went to another FCC home in Farmington for some mentoring and then came the BIG decision to get my hair colored. Yeah.... that is normally how I approach most BIG decisions - driving down the road, probably on my cell phone and I think.... I need a change. About the only thing I seem to be able to control in my life lately is my hair color, so off I went.
Jessica- what do you want to do today.
Me- I am radical. I turn 43 today and it will never get more appropriate to do something wild with my hair so lets do it... blonde highlights.
Jessica- Are you sure?
So.... 2 hours later I walk out and look in the mirror and think you know.. maybe a tattoo would have been a better way to show my rebellion for my lifestyle stress lately. Atleast then I could put it on my butt or someplace that on one else has to look at.
It looks kinda "skunkish..."
I walk in the house. None of the kids even notice it, or atleast they had the manners not to say anything.
Debbie- Well, Randy, what do you think?
Randy- Well....... uh.... it is... nice.
Debbie- You are LYING.
So, I lived with it for a day. I made it BIG.I made it small. I made it short.I made it tall. ( that was for you Dana.)
Tonight , I came out of the grocery store with it pouring down rain. It looked pretty trashy by the time I got home. I know, I dont get stuck in the rain much but in Randy's church they throw water..... what if I get caught in the line of water flinging off palm branches and have to leave church looking like I an in the next edition of Jerry Springer?
So, I have already spent the first two days of my forty- third year of my life looking like two totally different people. For a brief second I thought how cool it would be to have an alter personality. Then , when people make me mad, I could be rude. I could say no, I dont have time. I have to go watch Nascar... or something...
But instead, I will continue to say " yes , I will". I will continue to wear my hair the same way I have for years. I will be the old faithful Debbie, ready to give everyone exactly what they expect including my hair style and hair color...
( I am seriously thinking about that butt tattoo though.. I could totally carry that off. If I didnt have to show someone else my butt, that might be an option. Hmm.. I probably couldn't even do that. I would feel guilty and sad for the tatooer . Maybe I will just get a few of those temporary tattoos that you get wet and stick on and wear off with a few baths. I think I will get spider man or something. Boy, I am a rebel. I am excited . I will get one while in Mississippi this weekend, I bet they have good tattoo vending machines. )
So, last year Randy was working on the house and a squirrel went in a hole he was patching. For days, he would go out there and just look at the hole trying to figure out how to get the squirrel to come out. One morning when I went out there, he had a two by four propped up to the hole and peanuts stationed at intervals down the board. I said Randy, what are you doing? He replied as serious as could be " trying to get the squirrel to come out." My friends laughed and laughed about Randy's antics to get that squirrel out of the house.
Now, fast forward this year.
Randy put up a squirrel feeder ,I mean.. a bird feeder. Every time we looked out there was a gymnast squirrel hanging from the feeder enjoying his birdie goods. He would walk out there and make a loud noise, he would stare out the window until finally he put a trap out there. He had peanuts all in the trap. Every few minutes he would get up to peer out the window. " Look Debbie, he is almost in there..." " See... he wants those peanuts." When the squirrel finally went in he was as excited as a little boy waiting on the ice cream truck. He took it to the park and let it out.
So... here is my thought. The squirrel either was totally ticked that Randy did that back and came back to haunt him.. OR... one of the other 100 squirrels in our yard decided to play the next trick.
Last night at 7 pm Randy came in from the store and said "Debbie, come here, look!" As I walked into the kitchen, I saw it. The squirrels little tail was prancing around my bathroom as though it belonged there. IN THE BATHROOM ! It was a small squirrel. I am thinking probably the baby of the one that Randy trapped the other day and took to the park. As it noticed us watching it ran under the counter.
Randy promptly closed the door and went to get his trap. After putting his trap in the room he realized the squirrel could squeeze under the door so he went outside and got stepping stones and put along the bottom of the door. All night-- it stayed like this.
At 8:15 animal control came in to pick up the squirrel. He took the cage he brought into the bathroom and closed the door. I really wanted to take pictures of this --- but I didnt get to. Randy said " just go outside and take them through the window. There are steps there already." I am thinking I must have missed Randy standing on steps outside peering through the window to catch a glimpse of the squirrel. That too, would have been a kodak moment. ( I know.. I am mean.)
Ten minutes later the animal control guy came out of the bathroom with the squirrel in the cage. The kids couldnt see it. I didnt ask him to uncover it so they could see. I mean, I think the squirrel was ok, but what if it wasn't.
That is how our morning started off in preschool.
I dont know if the kids learned anything but I did.
1. I NEVER use the upstairs restroom. NEVER. I will now make MORE trips up there to clean it. Goodness know the man in the house doesnt.
2. I want to redecorate the upstairs bathroom. It is done in lighthouses from Randy's house when we got married. It never bothered me because I didnt go up there. Now, it does..
3. Always keep a chip in the camera ready for squirrel watching ... or watchers. :)
4. The animal control guy says if it happens again to use peanut butter. Boy ,do we have spoiled squirrels. They no longer want peanuts ,they prefer it processed into peanut butter? I wonder if it matters if it is creamy or crunchy?
All in a days work.
I can wait to wake up each day now to see what squirrel adventure awaits us next!
Ok, I never thought in my life what I would google "signs of a heart attack, woman" and try to self diagnose whether I am having little signs of heart problems or just anxiety, or maybe even just a french fry stuck in my throat. But.. I did.
Life is too busy right now. Here are my thoughts on everything I have going on.
I have been given 25,000 to start a state wide association. What in heavens name made me think I would want to do this? I realized in the nomination process that I was going to be in the middle of several wonderful professional women like myself.. ( haha) that will probably be going through menopause or PMS'ing at the same time. Women can be emotional. Can I deal with this when I have so much going on?
College hours. I am finishing my degree mainly for myself so I wont have to explain anymore that I do not have one. Why? Who cares? If they keep me this busy as uneducated as I am, what will happen when I actually have credentials? Why do I need to study ancient art to be a great preschool teacher and why did all the artist like nudity so much. I totally could have been a model back then, they did like well rounded girls.... well, you know what I mean. Arkansas history - I didnt realize I grew up in a place that was so pivotal in the civil rights movement. Pschology - I wont do spell check - s0.... see, how much trouble I am in ? I have been in this class for 10 weeks and STILL cant even spell the name of the class.
Concert. Yes, we have 64 of them so far. That's all I am sayin.
Arkansas Childrens Week - I am coordinating efforts for the Siloam Springs area. It is going to be very cool and fun . There will be two large events - one hosted by family childcare providers and one by Arkansas Better Chance providers. I hope we have clowns and I hope I am not one of them.
There are so many conferences that I need to be at in the next 3 months it is CRAZY. One is this weekend. I am the president, so I have to be there. I am teaching a session on FCC so, if I dont show up it will be noticed. Can I just be irresponsible once?
I went on a study tour last week. I am thinking of changing curriculum models to Reggio Emelia. To be totally honest, I am not sure I have the energy right now. I put so much time into the classroom now, I am not sure I can give more. The Reggio Emelia style would require much documentation.
Documentation - that is what I need ---one more thing to keep up with.
Taxes.... I havent even thought about them yet. Ugh....
So, I am pretty sure the quirks I have been feeling are anxiety... If not, I did meet with an advisor last week to get insurance coverage for heart attacks. No, there is not anything I can give up at this point. but soon.... I will.
School will be out.
Concerts will be concerting... :)
I will be hanging out in the lap of luxury at a motel 6 before we know it !
Ahh...... There goes that french fry feeling again !