Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Friday Starts 8pm Thursday…Breaks My Heart

Today there is no school and I slept in. It felt good on this gray, cold, windy day. My food shopping is done, but I'm sure that I forget an ingredient and will have to run out to get something. We stay home for Thanksgiving. My mom and my two brothers will make the trip down to us from New York tomorrow morning so there will only be nine of us and that is fine with me. As I was pulling myself together this morning, I was listening to the radio. In between songs, the DJ said that 62% of polled people are against the stores being open on Thanksgiving. Then a commercial came on for one of these stores that will be open on Thanksgiving and a sing songy commercially voice said at the end, "Black Friday starts 8pm Thursday!" Black Friday starts on Thursday! You notice they didn't say Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving has turned into just another day and this has really shook me to the core.

This bothers me greatly! I have been thinking about this ever since I heard Macy's announced that they will be open on Thanksgiving. Macy's…the store that is in Miracle on 34th Street. The store that puts the Christmas back in Christmas, the store that sends it's customers to other stores if they don't have what they want. The store that was fighting commercialism. Yes, I know, it's just a movie and there was no Mr. Macy's in 1947. He died back in 1877. But being originally from New York, I grew up watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. I remember my father bringing me and my brother one year into the city to see it in person. A few years later, a neighbor moved in next door and his office was in the city on the parade route. His office would have a Parade Party and we would go and sit on the ledge by the windows, faces pressed up to the glass, watching the giant balloons pass by at eye level…just like Susan in the beginning of Miracle on Thirty-Fourth Street.

Last year, I found these two great books that I read to Molly's class. Balloons Over Broadway, is a nonfiction book about the puppeteer that created the balloons for the parade. The second one, is a historical fiction book, Milly and the Macy*s Parade. Milly is fictitious, but the book explains how the parade came to be. Many of the workers in 1924 were immigrants, immigrants that had to adjust to their new lives in America but still missing their traditions and holiday celebrations from their home countries. Milly sees her papa and his coworkers sad and homesick and Milly runs to Mr. Macy's office to talk to him (the fictitious part, Mr. Macy's died in 1877 and there was no Milly). But as Milly is about to enter Mr. Macy's office, she overhears a meeting that he is having.

Inside his office, Mr. Macy's was pacing back and forth. "Why it's almost Thanksgiving, and Christmas is right around the corner," he grumbled. "But the salesclerks are all frowning when they should be festive. It's depressing the customers!"

Mr. Macy's assistant, Mr. Snidely, snickered. "Maybe we should fire them."

Fire them? Fire Papa and his friends?

"No!" Milly cried. "You can't fire them!"

"What?" thundered Mr. Macy. "Who said that?"

Milly stepped forward. "Um. . . I did sir. I didn't mean to be rude. It's just that, I don't think firing people will make them any more festive."

EXACTLY Milly!!! Then the parade came to be, a mixture of different cultures from the "old" country coming together in their "new" country. People had the day off to celebrate, to be thankful, to count their blessings. 

Thanksgiving to me has officially been swallowed up by the commercialism of Christmas. A holiday that was a day set aside to be thankful for the things we have has now been turned into a day to think about all the things we don't. This has saddened my heart. I never shopped on Black Friday. There was never anything I needed to have so badly that I was willing to get up at 4am to be at a store's door with thousands of other shoppers or to leave my house on Thanksgiving night to shop for midnight madness. But that is just personal preference. Some people enjoy going out on that day, and that's okay. 

But to me, there was something sacred about having one day, just one, in our hectic lives set aside to just be thankful. I will continue to be with my family and have family time and enjoy a day of rest in the middle of our crazy scheduled lives. My Thanksgiving will not change. But there was a comforting feeling that everyone in our country was doing the same thing with there families as well, no matter where they live in the country, no matter what their heritage, we were all thankful. That comforting feeling is gone. 62% of peopled polled may be against the stores being open, but that leaves 38% of the people lining up at the doors to buy that sweater that they just can't live without…sigh.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A Starfish, Junie B. Jones and Trying to Make a Difference!

It has been almost a year without our beloved Mrs. Hwang. I just reread my post about her from a year ago. You can read it here. Now, a year later, I am thankful that I wrote it. Sometimes with time, you forget the small details. I had forgotten that Molly had read to Mrs. Hwang that LAST day of school before Thanksgiving. I had forgotten that she had come running up to me to show me her "I Read to the Principal" button and told me that Mrs. Hwang let her choose from the fourth and fifth grade pile. There are so many memories of her being principal to my four children and so many emotions of her tragic loss, that I had forgotten these small details. 

But yesterday was about remembering and CELEBRATING the life of Mrs. Hwang. I only had the boys this weekend because Chris had the girls in Richmond at a soccer tournament. We woke up early, and walked to Sanders Corner for the Making a Difference 5K Memorial Race for Mrs. Hwang. It was a gray, misty day but it wasn't raining and it wasn't too cold. My boys were excited for this. They love their sleep, but getting up and running for Mrs. Hwang was different. Timmy had never ran a 5K. It was his first. Ryan was part of the running club at Sanders and had run in one last year. I went with camera in hand to document, I want to remember and not forget.

It was still at least 45 minutes before the race and so many people at Sanders.

Friends met up with one another.

And the memorial, this wonderful, beautiful memorial that will be here for all to see every time they walk into Sanders Corner. I love the starfish story. It has always been one of my favorites and then to hear that this was a story that Mrs. Hwang would share with her staff at the beginning of the year to inspire teachers to make a difference with as many students as they could, uhhh, it just made me miss her more. But now, a year has gone by, and everyone, not just her staff knows the starfish story, it is her legacy. The story has come up in conversations at the dinner table, in the car, or sitting on the sidelines of a soccer game. Making a Difference…we don't need to save the world, but we can change or save someone in our own little part of it. If we ALL did this, made our little corner of the world a better place, then we ALL would make a difference, then ALL the starfish would end up back in the sea.

So even though, she is still greatly missed, even though she was taken way too soon, she will always live in our hearts, if we try to make a difference.

I think the starfish is just perfect since the Sanders Corner mascot is a dolphin, I just made this connection…both animals from the sea.

Third Grade Team

My Boys


Getting ready.

Mrs. Hwang's daughter and grandson, READY.SET.GO!

First Runner across the finish line.

And there's my Timmy, #20 overall male out of over a 1000 runners, not bad for a first timer!

And here comes Ryry!

Ryry #42, just about a minute behind Timmy. Fantastic!

So many people gathered together for the same cause!

And since it's Monday and I try to post about reading on Mondays…well, the money raised by the race is going to sponsor the "I Read to the Principal" program that Mrs. Hwang started at Sanders Corner at another school in Loudoun County, Rolling Ridge. Her legacy will live on every time a student reads to his or her principal. Even though, Molly read to Mrs. Hwang on that last day of school before Thanksgiving break, her program lives on.

Some other sad news as it pertains to reading, I read last night that Barabara Park died, the author of all the Junie B. Jones books. I have seventeen Junie B. Jones books in my basement on the book shelf. I know because I counted. Both my girls read some of her books, but my real attachment to them was when these books were in my second grade classroom. I remember when I was a kid and going to the school library in third grade for the first time that school year. The librarian told us that we were no longer allowed to get picture books. We were "big kids" now and we had to get chapter books. This devastated me. I loved my picture books. I wasn't a great reader and was overwhelmed by the chapter books. At the end of second grade, we were still allowed to take out Dr. Seuss and now I had to check out books like Charlotte's Web. So I would fake read. I would always trying to read the books, but about half way through them, I would get embarrassed that I would be taking out the same book week after week and so I would pretend that I had finished it and take out another book that I more than likely didn't finish either. 

Fast forward many years and to my second grade classroom. In second grade, you have a wide array of readers. I had a few readers that were way beyond the second grade level and were reading chapter books that I never would have attempted at their age. But then, I had also had those readers that were still reading their picture books, and that was okay. But eventually, I wanted them transitioning to chapter books. Having my own childhood experience with this, I tried to make this an easy transition. I filled my classroom library with all those "first" chapter books that are meant to help with this, they are not too long, the chapters, as well, are not too long, and the vocabulary is just the right level, all of the things that I needed as a reader when I was transitioning to chapter books. And that is were Junie B. Jones comes in. Junie B. Jones was that series that flew off the shelves in my classroom. So many little girls would have those books sitting on the corner of their desk with a book mark sticking out to hold their place. Junie B. Jones helped so many girls in my classroom move from the picture books to the chapter books. So thank you Barbara Park for building that bridge from picture books to chapter books that helped so many children to hold on to the love of reading and not lose it because they weren't ready for that 300 page chapter book.

Hmmm, even though we already donated books, maybe I'll go out today and buy a few Junie B. Jones books and donate them to the "Read to the Principal" program in honor of Mrs. Hwang and Barbara Park.

The Molly and Mommy Mega Mania Miraculous Magical Read Aloud Streak: Day 50!!! Half way to 100 days!!!

Inspired by the book The Reading Promise, the last book Mrs. Hwang and I talked about together.

This is how we kept the steak alive while Molly went to Richmond to cheer on her sister, I went out to the car in between Timmy's basketball games and Molly listened while in between soccer games at the hotel. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

How Lady Gaga and Katy Perry are Creating Wild Readers

Reading in the Wild has been in my pre-order cart at Amazon for months. I read Donalyn Miller's first book, The Book Whisperer, years ago and it changed how I encourage my children to read. Even though I'm not in the classroom as a teacher at the moment, I have the same struggles with my own children trying to get them to read as I did with certain students in my classroom. Because of The Book Whisperer, I increased the amount of kid-lit I read. I always read a lot of children's books, but now I am reading with my own children in mind. I read books I think might interest my boys and then I pass the books on to them. I read books I think might interest my girls and then pass the books on to them. I was talking to Molly's assistant principal last week and she told me she was talking to Molly's class about reading. They were talking about how they select books. Molly's responded, "My mom reads a lot of books and recommends books to me. Sometimes, I look at the cover and think I won't like it, but once I get into it, I find out that it was really a good book. My mom was right." Ahhh, "my mom was right," that is ear candy to a mom!

In the beginning of Reading in the Wild, Donalyn Miller talks about dedicating time to reading. She gives her students a reading itinerary to keep track of where they read. She wants her students to start thinking about stealing pockets of time to read. Adult "Wild Readers" that responded to her survey said that they read for more than four hours a week and some read up to twenty hours. "Wild readers don't have more hours in the day than other people, so how do they find the time? It turns out that they read in the edge time, snatch a few minutes of reading time between appointments, while waiting for their children during dance practice or before falling asleep at night. Life is full of wasted moments in between our daily commitments." 

Hmmm, the "edge of time," reading on the edge, I loved this phrase. I visit Molly's class on Thursdays and for one week they are keeping track of where they read. I told them that everywhere counts. I told them that I always have a book with me. I read while I wait for Shannon to finish with soccer practice, I read while I wait for the boys to finish with basketball practice, I read at the orthodontist office, I read in carline to pick-up Molly. I read on the "edge" of all the other activities that are written in my family planner.

"On the edge," this phrase really stuck with me...and then I thought of Lady Gaga's song "Edge of Glory." A few weeks ago, I read Mr. Tiger Goes Wild and Carnivores to Molly's class. We then read Katy Perry's lyrics to Roar and then we sang and we sang and we roared! Both books and the song are all about being yourself, standing-up for what you believe in, and it's okay not to follow the crowd all the time. The kids loved it! So now I'm thinking, maybe we should sing again. Even though "Edge of Glory" is about her grandfather's death, I think we can sing about being on the edge of reading. We will talk about their reading itineraries, we will discuss their favorite places to read, we will think about opportunities for them to steal some time on the "edge" of their busy lives to read, The Edge of Reading!

Where do you read? Are you a wild reader? Do you read on the edge?

Timmy reading…uh, sleeping, in my bed.

Ryan in my bed.

My mom on a visit this past March. I think it was the one snow "storm" we got all winter.

Molly sitting on the floor of the study by the window.

Not sure why Timmy decided to read on the kitchen floor?

At the pool.

At the beach.

Molly reading at Grandma's house before going to the beach. This was my childhood bedroom.

Reading during Molly's gymnastic class.

Molly reading in a shopping cart after gymnastics class. 

Another shopping cart read. I bought Molly this magazine because she has an interest in everything British.

Molly at Shannon's soccer game.

Another soccer game, it was really hot that day. 

On this day, Molly had bought some books from the school book fair. She ran outside to her favorite reading tree.

Went to kiss Molly goodnight and found her in bed reading, seriously, this is how I found her.

Even Elizabeth, our cat, likes to read. She is a WILD READER!

The Molly and Mommy Mega Mania Miraculous Magical Read Aloud: Day 44
                       Books Completed 5

We finished Beryl a Pigs Tale and we are now reading Chains.

And to all my Sanders Corner friends, don't forget the book fair is this week.

                  I know I'll walk out with more tomorrow.