Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics

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I officially went back to work on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

It was my first day of school since leaving on January 15, 2016.

And it was great.

It was like I never even left, outside of all the hugs and well wishes and “So glad to see your smiling face!” greetings. Even sweeter was a post it note from my new principal that he left in my classroom the night before, saying how welcoming everything looked and how happy he’s glad I’m able to return.

Prior to our “official” start date, I participated in the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics.  Usually, it can be a five-day or longer event .  This year, due to scheduling issues, it was a 3 day affair with multiple-tiered activities.

I engaged in all sorts of games that had been previously set up by the individuals in my room, both adults and children,  while I was out on sick leave. And let me tell you, they did a wonderful job of challenging me! I tried my best to complete each game to the best of my ability. Some of them were more challenging than others, but all in all, I think I represented my Kindergarten colleagues quite well!

What’s In The Cabinet?” was great fun as I discovered all sorts of materials and paperwork out-of-place. Some cabinets I just opened and then quickly shut, while others I cleaned and organized without much fanfare. This multi-tiered event didn’t put me in the running for the gold or even bronze medal,  but my efforts were rewarded with several empty cabinets. I still have several that need to be tackled, but that is for another day.20160830_074637_resized

Container Crash” was not an event I wanted to participate in due to the time constraints I was under,  but it was necessary to complete.  For about an hour, I sorted through the 16 years worth of containers that I have–baskets, boxes, and lids of all sorts of sizes and colors. Some matched, while others remained lonely.  I managed to give away a few of them to some of my co-workers, but I still have a huge store of containers stacked in boxes over the cubbies.  If you need any containers or lids, either matching ones or replacement parts, let me know. I’ll give them to you for FREE! (That is certainly worth a silver medal, right?)

20160830_074800_resizedBook Jam I” was a difficult event.  My trade books were not in any particular order, and I was unable to properly organize them to my satisfaction in the allotted time.   I did ok with the “Book Jam II“, sorting Reading Workshop books into the correct bins and finding my personal collection of board books that I like to use to start out the year with. But the BEST part of “Book Jam II” was when I masterfully placed my outward-facing bookshelves so I actually have TWO book corners this year for my little Kindergarten scholars! I think that event was purposefully scheduled to try to trick me into getting rid of Kindergarten furniture. I get a double gold medal for that one!20160830_074840_resized

Where Are The Spacemen?”  is still alluding me. During writing, we use these adorable spacemen clothespins created by Really Good Stuff for teaching about putting spaces between words.  I can’t find any of them!  They may have gone into Mr. Pail at the end of the year, or they may still be playing “What’s In The Cabinet?” Another level to this game is “Where Is The Smartboard Pen?” I had two pens, and one is missing.  Clearly, no medal for  me for this event.

At the start of “Kindergarten Kitchen Nightmare“, pocket books were filled with toy food, little scratch pads had one scribble on a page, dishes were mixed in with clothing, and the babies had bed head and were all naked.  I had to get everything back in its correct, loving place. By the time I was done, the table was set with a tablecloth and napkins I made over the summer, the babies were all clothed and in bed with little handmade blankets, and the food and dishes were put away in the correct spots.  Another gold medal for me! Sorry, no picture proof of this, but I can honestly say, the kitchen looked wonderful by the time I was done!

Sharpen The 1,000 Pencils” was another non-medal event, sadly.  My TWO electric pencil sharpeners are busted, so I’ll be purchasing one over the weekend. Guess I’ll be participating in that one on Monday morning!

And “What Did I Order?” is a game also still  in progress. I purchased glue sticks prior to the start of the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics while back to school shopping. Lo and behold on Friday, I received two boxes of glue sticks that  I guess I ordered since my name was on them! Ah well…better extra glue than no glue!

Class List Confusion”  is always a challenging event for even the most seasoned teacher.  A new student was added to my class list and I wasn’t aware of this change when the children visited on Thursday, the 25th.  I had to make her crayon cup with her instead of it already set for her at her seat.  But on Friday, I made sure to make the labels for seat and cubby, so she will be all set for the first day of school the following week.

Paperwork Paparazzi” started out as a challenge, but ended up being a silver medal event for me.  Another side-event of “What’s in the Cabinet?”, I found student work and assessments from last year in two separate locations that needed to be sorted, organized, and distributed to the first grade teachers.  I also located behavior charts for students, parent information, and other miscellaneous paperwork that just didn’t find its way into Mr. Pail at the end of the school year last year.  About an hour and half later, all the pertinent paperwork was correctly organized and given to the proper people.

 

Bulletin Board Brilliance” was a gold medal winner for me, for sure!  Not only was the bulletin board I made adorable, it is highly effective in terms of student work placement. I made little cupcakes from bulletin boarders and tissue paper. The flame above lists my scholars’ birthdays. Underneath each one, there is a clothes pin hanging by a tack. Putting up and taking down student work is a snap!  An added bonus: I’ll be putting their photos underneath by the 2nd week of school, so everyone who visits will quickly know which happy little cupcake belongs to which scholar.14054047_10207200523746791_8415621747711157217_n

The best game, though was “Toss It!” I KNOW I won the gold medal on this game!  I had THE biggest pile of boxes, trash, a rug, broken containers, and other unusable items stacked up in three towers of trash. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of my award-winning dump pile! (You can see a bit of the pile creeping out of the hallway in this photo.)

All in all, I think I fared pretty well in this year’s Olympics.

Now, let the learning games begin!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

5 “Needs” To Be Ready For Kindergarten

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Welcome to Kindergarten, my new friends!

Here are 5 things you need to be ready for Kindergarten!

BRING A BACKPACK that you can carry that has your name on it.

 

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BRING ONE lunch box with your name on it to hold both your snack and lunch. More than one lunch box makes it hard for four and five year olds to figure out what to eat when. Also: be sure your child can open any food containers you send without assistance. If they can’t do it on their own, then it should not be sent to school. NO peanut/nut products or candy at school, please.

WEAR sturdy shoes and play clothes! Shoes should be close-toed for safety on the playground. NO LIGHT UP SHOES, JEWELRY, TOYS, OR TRINKETS, PLEASE.

 

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BRING EXTRA CLOTHES TO KEEP AT SCHOOL. We get messy, have accidents, or get wet at the fountain. We want to avoid calls home for replacement clothes, so please send in clothes to keep at school. Please include an extra plastic bag to send soiled clothes home in and supply replacement clothes should the bag come home.

 

BE WELL-RESTED AND EAT BREAKFAST BEFORE SCHOOL EVERY DAY! Four and five year olds need 10 to 12 hours of sleep a night! We are busy learning from day 1, so it is very important to get to sleep early, eat a good breakfast, and be on time for school.

 

I can’t wait to see you on the first day of school!

Three Ways to Help Your Custodian

 

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Have you ever tried to wash and wax your kitchen floor in 90-degree heat? Most logically-thinking people would say, “Of course not! The floor will never dry!” Most people wait for cooler temperatures to wash and wax floors, since high temperatures directly impact how easily and quickly the task can be done.

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And yet, that’s what our faithful custodians in my school must do every summer. The teachers pack up as much of their classroom materials as possible in June, storing things in cabinets, closets and cubbies. The custodians then remove all the furniture and any supplies and materials that didn’t fit in the classroom storage areas to the hallway. The floors are then washed and waxed, then the room is reassembled according to a map left by the teacher. Once all the rooms are done in the wing, then the hallways are done. It’s an exhausting, heat-infused, time consuming job. One wing in our building has at minimum 10 rooms. Multiply that by 4 wings…it’s a lot of work.

This year, we had both summer school and a preschool program running in our building, which impacted when the custodians could do their yearly summer routine. Since our summer school and pre-k programs weren’t completed until August 12th, it left only two and a half weeks for the custodians to get their work done, as our new earlier start date this year is August 29th. The classrooms in the wing that was slated for summer school were washed and waxed prior to summer school starting, but that still left the hallway to be done as well many classrooms left untouched until the Pre-k program let out.imgres-4

When I went in on the one day in August that the school was open to start working in my classroom, (Yes, teachers DO work in their classrooms over the summer to get ready for their new scholars!) the three custodians were busy all over the building. One was waxing the upper floor in my hallway, and the other two were in another section of the building, unloading classrooms and beginning to wash and wax those floors. It’s a thankless job made more stressful by the fact that school is set to open in two weeks.

This madness got me thinking of a few solutions to make their job a little more bearable in 90-degree temperatures with no air conditioning and possibly make the summer cleaning schedule a little more productive.

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  1. Start school after Labor Day if summer school and other programs must run through mid-August in school buildings. The extra few weeks will give the custodians ample time to do their work without having the pressure of school starting at the end of August.
  1. Hold summer school in a different town building, like a Recreation Department or Community Center, freeing up the school buildings for custodians to use the months of June through August to work and get the schools ready for another school year.
  1. Set up a schedule for all custodians to rotate through all the schools over the summer, helping to move all the furniture and clean the classrooms and hallways in each building, so there are more people to assist at each school and get the buildings ready sooner. A team of three custodians in each wing for a week could get more done than merely 3 per building. Many hands make light work, right? 

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I intend to send an email to our Superintendent about this issue once school starts. My hope is that those who make the school calendar for next year take into account the hard work of the custodians over the summer months, especially those who have to work around summer school and other educational programs. Without them and their efforts, we wouldn’t have the sparkling windows, doors, and floors that greet the children and staff every year.

What type of job do you have? Can you just leave your office at the end of the year, or do you have to pack up and set up each work year?

 

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL

 

 

 

 

 

6 WAYS TO BE SMART, SAVY, AND SCHOOL-FRIENDLY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

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20160606_111639_resizedOk, kids. Technology has made things easier to some degree in our lives, but not necessarily any smarter. Let’s go over a few things to keep in mind when you are granting ‘all access to you all the time’ on your Smartphone and social media accounts. And let’s see how you can be smarter for your kids and you at your child’s school for the next school year.

REMEMBER: SAFETY FIRST

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Oftentimes, Facebook pages light up with parent complaints about not feeling ‘welcome’ anymore at their child’s school when it comes to attending school functions. Translation: they are upset that they have to sign up to attend school events and just can’t “show up” to “help out” anymore.

When frustration takes over at these seemingly unfriendly school rules, we as parents need to remember that schools are first and foremost, places of learning for students.

Sadly, we live…

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6 WAYS TO BE SMART, SAVY, AND SCHOOL-FRIENDLY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

 

20160606_111639_resizedOk, kids. Technology has made things easier to some degree in our lives, but not necessarily any smarter. Let’s go over a few things to keep in mind when you are granting ‘all access to you all the time’ on your Smartphone and social media accounts. And let’s see how you can be smarter for your kids and you at your child’s school for the next school year.

REMEMBER: SAFETY FIRST

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Oftentimes, Facebook pages light up with parent complaints about not feeling ‘welcome’ anymore at their child’s school when it comes to attending school functions. Translation: they are upset that they have to sign up to attend school events and just can’t “show up” to “help out” anymore.

When frustration takes over at these seemingly unfriendly school rules, we as parents need to remember that schools are first and foremost, places of learning for students.

Sadly, we live in a much more socially dangerous time, where adults and children have access to guns and other weapons. They cause unthinkable carnage at schools and other public places. Innocent people are killed, families are destroyed, and schools are left trying to make sense of it all while still continuing on valiantly to educate students in the pressing age of data driven instruction and assessment.

Many schools now have systems and procedures in place to account for people in and out of the building as a result of the violence that occurs daily across our country. Principals request all dismissal information to be sent in paper format and parents to call if a child is absent. Schools have set arrival and dismissal times and procedures for all students, whether they are driven in, walk, or ride the bus. And schools have much tighter security during the day, where doors are locked and teachers use swipe keys to enter and exit.

These are safety measures for your children and the adults in the building. The rules that are in place are not made to make you feel unwelcome. They are put in place to keep everyone safe.

So don’t become upset when your child’s school asks for parents to sign to attend a school function. It’s much smarter to realize that your child is in a building with hundreds of other children who also deserve to be just as safe as your child. And you would want those parents to follow the safety rules for the sake of your child’s safety, too.

ANNOUNCE YOUR VISIT

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Imagine this: You’ve got a big presentation to that you are working on for your job. You went in early to get a head start on the day. Then there’s a knock at your door and your boss is standing there. She needs to you work on some other task right away, even though she knows that you are in the middle of your presentation work. Not the best time, right?

You may think you are doing something loving for your child by a surprise visit to the school by dropping off the forgotten homework or instrument. These seemingly innocent little unannounced visits interrupt the secretary trying to manage the school, the teacher trying to work with students, and your child trying to learn.

A smarter way: pack and check the bag the night before with your child. And don’t worry. One day without the violin or the homework isn’t going to put an end to your child’s school career. Use the forgotten item as a way to remember to plan ahead instead of an excuse to just pop in at school.


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Parking can also be an issue at schools. As a teacher, I’ve almost been hit by parents countless times zooming in or out of a school parking lot. Imagine how you would feel if your child were hit by a parent. Or what if, in your haste, you hit another child? Parking procedures are in place to keep everyone safe, including your child, as well as the other students in the school.

There are universal parking rules, like marked handicapped spaces, that need to be adhered to whenever you public places, including schools. And then there are signs at schools that indicate where you can and cannot park because of bus drop offs and fire regulations. At my school, the whole front lot is for parents, and teachers need to park on the side and in the back lots. We work there, and we as teachers need to follow the parking rules just like the parents. Disregarding the signs or rules because you are the PTA President or because you are ‘just running in’ to the school puts others at risk and also shows that you feel you are above any rules. It also sends a message to your child that if my adult doesn’t follow the rules, I don’t need to, either. Everyone: parents, children and teachers, who are part of a school community, needs to follow the parking and safety rules for the benefit of all.

TURN OFF YOUR PHONE

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I love my phone. And I know we all have become so attached to all the aspects of a Smartphone: texting, taking pictures, tweeting, and instant access to online information-all.the.time. It’s a great device for quick communication, but with it comes responsibility of how much and when to use it.

When attending a function at your child’s school, please turn off your phone- especially on field trips, when you are in charge of students. No one likes to hear it ring, and if you really have to check it for messages, or text someone, or look on Facebook, then you’re not paying attention to the kids, and shouldn’t you be? And don’t post those photos that you took of your child performing with other kids. You know the ones…the ones you took while you were blocking the view of the parents behind you who were trying to watch their child.

Save the photo ops until you meet up with your child afterwards. You’ll be able to enjoy the performance from start to finish and get better close-ups later on.

 WHICH OF THESE TWO IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER?

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I had the opportunity to attend two spring school performances this past year. One was my daughter’s chorus and band concert and the other was my niece’s school play. I won’t pinpoint which event was which, but let’s see if you can spot the difference between the two events. At one event, all the audience members, parents and children, were seated quietly and respectfully, listening and clapping as appropriate. At the other, younger children were wandering all over the auditorium with their friends before and during the actual performance, switching seats and just generally being not good audience members like they are taught in school. A pair of parents sitting directly in front of me could hear their children making noise in balcony seats overhead and instead of retrieving their children and sitting with them, the adults just watched them from afar, gesturing to their kids to be quiet.

Can you tell which event was the more difficult of the two to enjoy? In both instances, the children and teachers had worked all year to perfect their skills, and yet only one audience really showed the proper respect for all their hard work. And sadly, it was the parents who were the ones who weren’t holding their children accountable for their concert behavior, not the teachers.

TEACHER TROUBLE?  TALK IN PERSON

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I really enjoy social media. I have gotten in touch with friends that I haven’t been in contact with in years, and family and friends who are out of state can keep in touch with my family and me. I use it as a way to have fun, and I try to be very cognizant and careful about what I post.

Once August hits and teacher assignments are determined, I often see posts from parents asking about whose kid has or had this teacher and whether the teacher was kind, nice, mean, etc. If you like or dislike a particular teacher, that is certainly is your right. But guess what? It also can remain your private business! It gives me a pit in my stomach, wondering what is being said about me. I am a teacher myself, and I know I work very hard to do the best job I can do for my students. I also know that I am human and have made errors in my career. I would just rather hear about it in person rather than read about it on social media.

Think of it this way: Would you like your kid to post on a social media site how mean, nice, or strict you are at home? Probably not. How about your boss posting on your work performance for everyone to formulate an opinion, regardless of whether or not all the facts are presented? Again, probably a negative.

Conversations about placement should be held in person with the teacher, not with your friends on Facebook.

That’s it for today. So, how do you measure up when it comes to social media and school relationships? Do you pass with flying colors or do you need to brush up on a few skills?

That’s ok.

That’s why we go to school.

Class dismissed.

 

EXTRA CREDIT

Track how often you check and use your phone for messages, texting, and checking your social media accounts for three days. Compare that to the amount of time you spend with your children and spouse.

Which takes up more of your time?

Which SHOULD take up more of your time?

 

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

Dear Governor Malloy

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I wrote this letter back in 2014, and with a new school year approaching, I felt the urge to post it here on my blog.  To all parents: we teachers support your children’s learning every day, even in the face of mandates that seem out of reach. And to all teachers: I salute you in the job that you do every day, in the face of seen and unseen hardships.

I wish every one a safe, fun, and positive school year!

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March 8, 2014

Governor Dannel Malloy

State Capitol

210 Capitol Avenue

Hartford CT 06106

Dear Governor Malloy:

I could never be a true leader. True leaders have a very difficult job—balancing the needs of the masses while holding onto your own ideals and values. Listening to every side to make informed decisions that will propel people forward to greatness. Anticipating problems before they occur, so that final…

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Dear Governor Malloy

I wrote this letter back in 2014, and with a new school year approaching, I felt the urge to post it here on my blog.  To all parents: we teachers support your children’s learning every day, even in the face of mandates that seem out of reach. And to all teachers: I salute you in the job that you do every day, in the face of seen and unseen hardships.

I wish every one a safe, fun, and positive school year!

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google images

March 8, 2014

Governor Dannel Malloy

State Capitol

210 Capitol Avenue

Hartford CT 06106

Dear Governor Malloy:

I could never be a true leader. True leaders have a very difficult job—balancing the needs of the masses while holding onto your own ideals and values. Listening to every side to make informed decisions that will propel people forward to greatness. Anticipating problems before they occur, so that final decisions don’t cause larger problems. And all the while addressing current issues with the understanding that future ones will undoubtedly occur and shift any number of outcomes.

I say I could never be a true leader, but in a sense, I guess I am. I am a teacher. I have been a Kindergarten teacher for 15 years now; over the years, I have learned the value of listening to the other side while using what I know as a teacher to bring out the best in my students and families. I try to engage my four, five, and six year old students as best I can, taking into account their needs and experiences while implementing state and national mandates that come from non-educators, which now tell me what I must do to be a “highly effective” teacher.  I follow these mandates, while sometimes negating my own personal beliefs, values, and expertise on child development, because I enjoy these children. Sadly, if I want to keep my job, I must follow these mandates even when I can see daily in my classroom that they clearly do not represent the best learning for how a four, five or six year old mind works, feels, or explores their world.

No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and now Common Core, all ideally look wonderful on paper, but when you are a classroom teacher and must implement them, these mandates do not take into account a student’s educational background, a school system’s economic difficulties, family dynamics, or past and future developmental milestones, which all clearly impact how and when a student learns best. I feel these initiatives at heart, may seem very logical, but in practice, are very foolhardy and do not adequately allow teachers to do their jobs using the years of expertise, knowledge, and maturity that they so readily and want to use on daily basis, but are hindered by laws like Common Core.

I would venture to guess that a child born in 1947 is not that biologically different than one that was born in 1970, or even 2014.  Every infant, toddler, preschooler and Kindergartener still needs to pass through specific social, emotional, and physical developmental milestones in order for him/her to be able to access academics in a meaningful and appropriate way. When we try to speed up this natural process by teaching abstract topics like sight words or metacognitive skills, the end goal of engaged, inquisitive students doesn’t justify the means, and we are only asking for more frustrated teachers, students, and parents. I feel like these initiatives are akin to giving a 13-year-old child a set of car keys and saying, “Go drive on I-95 and then switch to I-91 in Hartford”. Any rational parent would never do such a thing, realizing that the outcome will be deadly. The child has certainly may have had a good deal experience in a car, but experience as a passenger is very different than experience behind the wheel, when coupled with maturity and solid age-appropriate teaching.

But my words are probably not what you want to hear. Let me share what one of my Kindergarteners wrote to illustrate my point. We use a Writer’s Workshop model, which teaches the fundamentals of writing—spaces, punctuation, capitalization, and formats of writing, within a child’s developmental level. Appropriate trade book texts are used as models for the students, and they truly enjoy writing because of the format and model of instruction.

Our past unit was about “How To” writing. I modeled “How To Be A Kindergartener”—use listening ears, use kind words, do your best, and clean up.

One of my students also decided to write on the same topic, but his slant was very different:

Step 1: Work! Work! Work! Work

Step 2. Learn! Learn! Learn! And Learn!

Step 3: Write! Write! Write! And Write!

Step 4: Don’t make silly faces.

I have enclosed a color copy for your review, and on the surface, this is a fabulous piece. He included all the facets of a how to piece, his illustrations were perfectly aligned with his text, and he used the conventions of writing that have been vigorously taught: capital letters, spaces, sight words, and punctuation marks. And yet, its underlying message is also very sad. The fun has been taken out of Kindergarten—highlighted by all four lines of his text. And step four says it all: no silliness for five year olds is allowed in school.

Kindergarten used to be just that: a garden for young children to grow and blossom. In the past, children learned how to socialize, solve problems, and respect both teachers and peers. Now, we are so focused on teaching academics, –racing to the top at the cost of the students’ emotional and social growth– that these natural developmental stages are being pushed further and further away from core curriculum. And the trickle up effect of all of this is that EVERY GRADE is not an appropriate grade level. Students from Kindergarten up to 12th grade are now expected to work well out of their grade level just to be “on grade level”.

In the future, I am sure we will see many more elementary children, teens and adults with social problems, anxiety, and increased stress levels because we as a educational society are not adequately addressing their needs at the right time in their education. Instead, we are force-feeding academics at the expense of their social and emotional well-being.

Please keep this student in mind the next time you meet to discuss education reform. He is one of many who are feeling the negative effects of the current legislation, but thankfully he will only be a Kindergarten student once in his lifetime.

Joanna Teodosio

Orange Avenue School

260 Orange Avenue

Milford, CT 06460

Traditions of Love

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Here we are on our wedding day in front of the church.  I am a direct descendent of the second minister of the church, which was burned down by the British during the Revolutionary War.

I married my husband on July 21, 2001, when I was 31 years old.

We had met when I was 26, and three years later, became engaged. We had a 2-year engagement, where we saved to pay for both our wedding and honeymoon. I remember writing that check to the restaurant for the reception…it was painful to see that money one minute and hand it over in the next, but what a fun night we had!

He is the youngest of ten, so we had a very large wedding party with his five brothers, my three sisters and brother, a girlfriend of mine, and a niece and nephew as flower girl and ring bearer.

We were married in the Protestant church I grew up in, and we also had a priest officiating, to represent both of our faiths.

Chris and I love a good party, so we planned our reception to be fun. Once in a while, I hear a comment about how much fun our wedding was—as well as how much food was there! We had picked a local restaurant for our reception, and although Chris and I didn’t get to eat that night, we knew our guests would be satisfied with the several course dinner.

We had hired a DJ and because we had different generations of people attending, we tried to select dancing music that everyone could enjoy. Chris and I danced to Frank Sinatra’s “The Way You Look Tonight”, which was about as slow as it got that night! And our cake cutting song was Stevie Ray Vaughn’s “Pride and Joy”.  I can’t remember what the entrance songs were at the reception, but I am sure they were just as upbeat and jazzy.

Over the years, I’ve come to learn about and enjoy many different traditions from my husband’s family. Christmas Eve was the first tradition that I experienced and we continue to enjoy every year. We’ve hosted it a few times, and it’s just a big party overloaded on family, food, and gifts!

When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband’s family had a baby shower for me, complete with a cookie tray and a beautiful stork that was made by my father in law and had graced the family baby showers over the years.

When my daughter was Sophia christened, my mother made her Christening gown, and she was able to wear a baby Christening ring that has been in my husband’s family for generations.

This past weekend, we went to a family gathering that allowed me to be part of yet another family tradition. A nephew on my husband’s side had gotten married this past February out in California, and his parents held a summer reception at their home here in Connecticut. It was a big party, complete with a tent, white tablecloths, and catered food.

But what was really special for me were the cookies that his aunts and myself made for dessert.

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The tray before the unveiling.

One of my sister-in-laws organized our baking a few weeks ago, and when the seven of us were done, the tray that was made would be the pride of any upstanding Italian wedding! It had anginettes, layered cookies, two kinds of biscotti, raspberry bars, peanut butter and chocolate cookies, chocolate anisette balls, linzer strips, almonds, and little chocolate kisses interspersed.

I couldn’t attend the building of the tray due to an upset stomach, but I was able to see the final product when it arrived at the party house. What a beautiful tray! I was glad that I was able to bake and participate in the cookie tray event. It was a special tradition, that I hope we aunties continue to do, over the next generation of weddings and showers.

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The layers of love in this tray are fit for any Italian wedding.

I wish my nephew and his now six-month bride a wonderful life full of great memories, happy days, and yummy cookies!

What traditions does your family enjoy?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

The Big Ten

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If you are a sports fan, you may be envisioning a football conference right now, or the number of your favorite player’s jersey.

For me, it reminds me of my daughter’s upcoming birthday in a few days.  We’ve been planning for a few weeks now, and this morning on my bike ride, it hit me that this will probably be the last birthday that will be more ‘kid oriented’.  I’m a Kindergarten teacher by profession, and I LOVE to use my creativity for projects and activities.  So every year, celebrating my daughter’s birthday has been an extension of my classroom, allowing me to have fun decorating and planning ‘birthday fun’ for her and her friends to experience at home.

A few times, we did her party outside of our home. Last year, we held it at a popular kid’s nail salon at her request. It turned into a bad scene the next day when on of the girls had a skin burn appear across her fingers. Imagine those phone calls! We finally determined it was a reaction due to the chemicals that were used to clean the tables. (Anyone in my area want to know the name of the salon, let me know.) Needless to say, this unexpected event further supported my view of having house parties for birthdays.

To me, being at home to celebrate life events is a nice memory to look back on. Sure, it’s a lot of prep work to clean and organize beforehand, but it’s all part of the party process.  In the end, I’d rather have the cake and candles blown out in the comfort of my own home, surrounded by the people we love.

This year, my daughter is having a Star Wars themed party.   It’s been a big to-do as far as planning.  My husband, a fabulous graphic artist, made an extraordinary invitation that would put any self-respecting Pintrest parent to shame.  I admit, I have been using that website, that sometimes makes me feel like a creative failure at times, to find some cool project ideas. While many are from parents of younger Jedi warriors, we found some pretty good ones for the older crowd. All the party goers have been instructed to wear their best intergalactic gear on party day, and her aunt is making her costume. And my husband has a few surprises in store, too!

I’m looking forward to this party, even though it is a gateway to my daughter’s teen years. I hope her friends will enjoy it, and I hope my daughter remembers all the fun we had getting ready for The Big Ten celebration.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

Ride of my Life

It was a clammy, overcast summer morning, late in July. The kind of morning when you go outside and you instantly feel the moisture on your skin and want to hibernate in the air conditioning back inside.

Automatic sprinklers were going on neighbors’ lawns; the garbage truck was making its rounds. People were up walking themselves or their dogs. Some were even braving the humidity and running.

And I was taking my first bike ride of the season.

My husband had given me a new bike for Mother’s Day a few years ago, and I loved riding it. I’d take my daughter for rides around the neighborhood almost daily, and in the summer, I’d get up early and go for a solo ride before he went to work. I loved having my bike and even though I am not much of an athlete, I love the motion of being on two wheels.

One of the “pearls of wisdom” I received when first diagnosed with Lyme was, “Eat right and exercise.” Both of these directives proved to be the most inadequate and unrealistic advice I’ve ever received in my life, because 1, —I couldn’t eat anything of great nutritional value without being in pain and 2, –I had no energy to exercise because I couldn’t eat!

When I felt up to it, I’d try to do 15 minutes of walking in front of my television , my arms briskly pumping back and forth. But it was a boring way to exercise. Sometimes, I’d add a little running in place just to break it up. I’d set my timer on my phone and constantly check it, thinking, “When is this 15 minutes UP ?????”

But today was different.

I got up early, threw on some biking clothes and my helmet, and Rode.My.Bike.

It was short 20-minute ride, only around my neighborhood on the level streets because I knew I wasn’t ready to tackle any hills yet, but it felt good to FINALLY get out there and exercise.

My knees definitely felt creaky and achy, so I know I need to keep doing this to get rid of the Lyme bugs in residence there.

But it was a good ride, and I’m looking forward to another one tomorrow.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL