About Me

I am a second-career teacher. In my other life, I crunched numbers as an accountant. Probably would have made a great math teacher had the thought occurred to me. No matter, I'm where I'm supposed to be; teaching third grade. Before that, 2nd grade and before that kindergarten. I have 2 grown daughters, 2 poodles, and 1 hubby. I live and work on Long Island.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Birds and The Beetles

No, dear reader this is not a blog entry about iconic musical bands of the sixties. Nor is it about reproduction. This entry is about the quandary I’m currently facing. I use “facing” rather than “suffering” because in my heart; albeit really deep down in there, I know this is a test. A test of mental fortitude and problem solving skills and one of which failure will not be tolerated.

The fact is that Mother Nature is trying her best to call on me because she knows I’ve always been an ally to her birds and bees.

I warn my students not to squish anything that crawls. The kids in my classes always learn how spiders and other bugs can be our friends by doing away with more harmful insects. I love birds. The sound of their laughter starts my day and their songs soundtrack my outdoor life.

But here I am trying to end their lives. Well, not the totality of their species. I seek to destroy the Japanese Beetles who are devouring my ornamental plants and the NYC pigeons whom have decided to nest on the air conditioning unit outside my daughter’s bedroom window.
As for the beetles- these voraciously iridescent creatures have chewed my lush foliage down to their leafy veins.
And the pigeons, oh my goodness, well they peer through the slit in the curtain as they protectively coo over their freshly laid egg. Creepy!

There’s got to be a solution to these but I’ll be damned if I’ve been able to figure it out yet. But the thing I know for sure is that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

And these critters better beware, because I am literally going to kick their collective asses.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Auto Ego

Twisting two-lane ribbon highway
Hardly the place to test this hot rod
That looked to have just escaped the junkyard

A 1946 Chevy ‘rat rod’
A four-mile stretch that snakes along
Cliffs and vistas that take your breath away

Keeping their distance from the low stone wall

A rebellious attitude
With loud manners
And an intentionally distressed appearance

“It handles well,” he said.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Marking the Close of this March SOL with an M

March  SOL comes to a close

Meandering through many inspirational writers' blog posts

Month gone so quickly by

Make the most of writing every day

Mark this experience with an “E” for effort

Measured words form purposeful sentences

Many heartfelt comments written and received

Mistakes fuel the learning process…don’t fear them

Millions of writing ideas emerge from this community

Memories provide writers with powerful posts

More connections with writers across the globe

Magic happens when you believe you are a writer

Mindful of your audience, always write for one’s own self

Miraculously the comments of others validate your written word

Meticulousness in writing is nothing short of perfection

Maternal instincts kick in to encourage new slicers

Monkey wrenches may challenge our ability and writing schedule

Make a comeback…. even if you skip a day!

Mountains of gratitude for this writing opportunity

Many hugs,

Right now I am….

  • waiting for the dishwasher repairman
  •  worrying about the upcoming state ela tests this week
  •  looking forward to a trip to Venice with my husband
  •  watching a bluejay sip from a puddle in my yard
  •  drinking my second cup of coffee
  • not knowing that the phone call I am about to answer will be a solicitor’s call
  •  hoping my daughter will call and tell me she had a great time on a date
  •  wondering if my puppy needs to go outside since he doesn’t yet have a signal to let me know
  • praising Leo for doing his business outside and not on the rug
  • happy about dinner tonight with old friends
  •  planning what I will wear to dinner
  •  writing this next-to-last March SOL
  •  thinking about getting ready to start my day away from this laptop
  • texting my sister and my other daughter
  •  thankful  for Terje and Stacey  and the inspiration this morning

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Who Am I?

Not knowing my lineage further back than my grandparents makes me feel unknown.

I envy those of you who have such strong familial ties to a city in a country other than here. I wish to be acquainted with stories about long-ago ancestors not known by me personally but fully recognizable by the tales told about them, like you do.

Unsure about my history makes me feel different, unidentified. It’s like a piece is missing from me.

But you see, not knowing is just one piece of the mysterious puzzle of me. The other piece is the left-out feeling of belonging to something larger than my nuclear family, as grounding as we may be.
My dad in the NYFD

And if I feel that a piece is missing from me, it is certain to be missed by my children at some point in their lives. Perhaps when I am no longer around.

That is when it hit me.  When my parents were no longer around, the hole they left in my life felt profoundly larger without this bridge to my heritage.

Doing my best to keep our legacy alive!
I think we all deserve to be part of a family history….to be kept alive long after we are gone by those who knew us solely through the stories they tell about us.
Me and my mom on my wedding day

Friday, March 28, 2014

Either Or?

This list was inspired by Vogue's  73 Questions Interview with sarah-jessica-parker

Which would you rather?

1. milk chocolate or dark chocolate
2. skiing or swimming
3. science or math
4. movie or theatre
5. boat or plane
6. oreo or chocolate chip
7. fiction or non
8. twitter or instagram
9. summer or fall
10. dogs or cats
11. flats or heels
12. london or paris
13. sparkling or flat
14. carrie or samantha
15. paul or john
16. gin or vodka
17. dresses or pants
18. iPhone or android
19. white or red
20. fish or birds
21. pilates or yoga
22. diamonds or pearls
23. johnny or jay
24. coffee or tea
25. shave or wax
26. cake or frosting
27. am or pm
28. city or country
29. jackie or michelle
30. long hair or short
31. beard or no
32. drums or guitar
33. washington or lincoln
34. bus or subway
35. home or away
36. color or black and white
37. less or more
38. sun or moon
39. savory or sweet
40. fish or fowl
41. ketchup or mustard
42. lemon or lime
43. lucy or ethel
44. happy or sad
45. shaken or stirred
46. orange or grapefruit
47. ocean or bay
48. stones or zeppelin
49. angelina or jennifer
50. high school or college
51. hamburger or hot dog
52. hipster or nerd
53. glitz or schmaltz
54. redford or newman
55. pasta or rice
56. pen or pencil
57. elementary or middle
58. bath or shower
59. text or call
60. early riser or stay-up-later
61. blonde or brunette
62. oscar or felix
63. billy joel or elton john
64. east hampton or montauk
65. cowboys or indians
66. east coast or west
67. north or south
68. teacher or administrator
69. hot or cold
70. oil or vinegar
71. spanish or french
72. barefoot or slippers
73. roses or tulips

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Opting Out

I teach third grade. Third grade is the first year children will take standardized tests here in school in New York.

Some parents are worried about the undo stress these exams are causing their kids. I’m doing my best to keep things low key in our classroom-doing the required test prep but trying to make it seem less dry than it actually is. A daunting task!

My own kids are adults now but I do find myself wondering what I’d do as the parent of an 8-year old regarding the upcoming ELA and Math tests and opting out.

I don’t believe in quitting.

As a parent, is it possible to opt out without sending that message?

However, these students are young. Are they even developmentally prepared to sit for so long to take these tests?

And what about the curriculum?

What most parents do not consider is that opting out will not erase what is happening in our classrooms. Our instruction has become measurement-driven.

And to them, I say; “Opting out is just prolonging the inevitable.”

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Remember To Put On Lipstick

7 things to know before you go
(Inspired by Cosmo’s Waking Up With Taylor on Sirius Radio)

1.   The right decision to make is usually easy to know but often difficult to carry out. 
2. You don’t have to wash your hair every day.
3. Practice makes awesome…perfection is overrated.
4. Nothing lasts forever….truly.
5. Drinking lots of water is good for you!
6. You can always feel proud of yourself for taking the high road.
7. Put your lipstick on before you leave the house and don't forget to re-apply!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Fun Can Be

This poem was inspired by Greg Pincus who was inspired by Marilyn Singer.

A jump in a puddle
         Splashy fun
Cooking for two
         Romantic fun
A day at the beach
         Solitary fun
Visits to new places
         Travelling fun
Giggling little girls
         Delightful fun
Finding a good book
         Reading fun
Walking the dogs
         Rambling fun
No matter the fun

         Just have it!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Are Congratulations in the Right Order?

 Today my inbox contained an email announcing Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher are Engaged and Expecting.

A few weeks ago, Savannah Guthrie of the Today show announced she had gotten married over the weekend and….drumroll please….she’s four months pregnant.

Amid the media outpouring of congratulations, am I the only one wondering if  the order of these announcements is out of order?

Indeed, we have come a long way if we are accepting the new direction of this societal convention.

The Happy Expectant Couple
And furthermore, if we do publicly accept that babies may be conceived before the wedding cake has been sliced, can Lesbian, Gay, and Transgender rights be that far off?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Politics and Friendship

Whomever realized that friendship and politics don’t mix couldn’t have been more spot on than in today’s political climate.

I will admit it, I’m a hothead. At least that’s what my father called me when I was a teenager. My teen years are way behind me but push my buttons and the heat will rise up out of my head faster than you can say “Down with Teacher Unions.”

And so dear reader, that is precisely what a friend told me at dinner last evening. I had a few glasses of wine and wasn’t in my prime teacher mode. Had I been in that mode, I would have explained that unions are not to blame for bad teaching. In fact I truly believe that most of us give blood, sweat, and tears until we ourselves bleed.

Unions are the cornerstone of these United States of America and as such serve as protection for us against the arbitrary exercises of power (Diane Ravitch). 

Had I been in prime teaching mode, I would have invited her to pore through my curriculum binders. You know the ones? From Engage NY (for my fellow Empire State NYSUT members). Maybe she’d like to browse through my Pearson Envision Math textbook and use it try to teach equivalent fractions to 8 year-olds.
I honestly believe there are very few bad teachers but there sure is lots of bad curriculum especially the ones called Common Core.

But my dear friend who is a stockbroker making oodles of fairly unregulated money believes the unions are to blame because they protect all those meanies and the inefficient teachers from getting the ax.

How to convince her? I saw no way to do it.  When she believes our unions are the equivalent of the devil with a chalkboard, there is just no middle ground.

But I digress. Really and truly the answer for me is, do not discuss the politics of education with anyone who is not an educator. Period. End of story.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My Cooking Life

I enjoy cooking. I'd classify myself as a capable cook. Mostly, I need to follow a recipe. 

My cooking habits are particular. My sister laughs at me taping the instructions on the cupboard above the counter where I prepare my recipes especially the Martha Stewart Thanksgiving turkey that I’ve been preparing for like 20 years.

I prefer quiet in the kitchen. I like company there. The dogs underfoot are fine and music is nice. Or, I have the tv on in the other room. Is it quirky that if I hear something I want to see, I’ll stop what I’m doing, hands covered and sometimes dripping in whatever and walk over to see what's on?

Before my husband taught me about staying organized, I'd be up to my ponytail in dirty pots and pans; my countertops covered with pretty much no space to work. That I needed him to point out about washing things as I go makes me chuckle now. Does that mean I don't see the trees for the forest?

When we got engaged, I knew nothing about cooking. I once made him the best grilled cheese sandwich he ever tasted….pure luck. The second time he asked for it, I could not duplicate my virgin success for anything! He married me anyway.

My mother did not enjoy having anyone around while she cooked. She was a good cook. Probably more capable than I am. She also followed recipes. It’s funny but despite the fact that she didn’t let me near the kitchen, I still inherited some of her ability. Must come through the shared DNA. My husband loved her cooking. So did my dad.

I guess my quiet kitchen helps me connect to my mom. Sometimes I imagine that I am sitting beside her as she prepares a meal, talking and listening to her stories.  And it is delicious.

A Passover Matzoh Brie made with my mother's technique.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Don’t Know How I Ever Lived Without Technology…….

The GPS – I have lived over eighty-five percent of my life without a navigation system. I am completely sense-of-direction impaired and will get lost driving around the block.  Even worse, I can’t read a map. If you don’t believe me, I invite you to read my teacher's report card comments back from my elementary school days! So how did I ever manage to get where I was going without a GPS?

An Interactive White Board– I have been teaching for 14 years and just got my own Smart Board last week. One short week and it feels like teaching without one is totally Flinstones. At the touch of my fingers, my students have immediate access to ANYTHING! Want to see the countries bordering India? Click on a map. Need a game to practice cross multiplication of fractions? Go to Smart Board Lesson exchange. Millions of people have been there, done that and made it accessible for one and all….FOR FREE!
The Princess telephone was introduced by the Bell System in 1959.

As much as we bemoan the losing face-to-face and ear-to-ear  communication because of iPhones, Facebook, Instagram,  and text messaging, I will be the first to admit:


What about you? What can't you live without?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Effective Teaching

“Effective teaching is the best test preparation,” Alan commented yesterday on my post. I started thinking how we have completely lost sight of this in the face of new rules and regulations in education.

It saddens me to think that the trove of experience and know-how just in our school building alone knows what Alan knows but we have run amok trying to implement this core of common knowledge….aka The Common Core.

Yesterday, I tried to teach effectively. At least more effectively than I have been teaching lately. I quietly pushed aside the testing materials (wanted to trash them but I controlled that impulse). I took out a poem I wrote (for this writing challenge one year ago) and used it as a mentor text. And then, as a class, we wrote together….

a poem.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The One and Only Ivan…asking a moral question

There is a part in The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate when Mack, the animal keeper is being cruel to Ruby, the elephant attraction at the Big Top Mall and Video Arcade.

The custodian, George witnesses the treatment and ponders letting someone know. My third graders discussed whether the possibility of being fired should keep George quiet.

Peter: Animal cruelty is not ok and George should definitely report Mack to the authorities.

A must-read in all classrooms!
Amanda: Elephants belong to the same species as us and treating them poorly is wrong. George should not be afraid of getting fired if he tells. And when Mack comes to fire him, he should say “You can’t fire me because I quit!”

Chloe: George is probably worried about losing his job and his money so he shouldn’t tell about how mean Mack is being to Ruby.

Zachary: If I were George, I would definitely tell on Mack. The Big Top already lost Stella (another elephant) and I wouldn’t want Ruby to get hurt.

I love to question and hear what my students think when we are reading aloud. And, it’s a much-needed break from the test-driven Common Core curriculum. Perhaps, it’s even a better measure of their intelligence and certainly gives them opportunities to share their ideas and opinions with their peers.

If you haven’t read The One and Only Ivan, try to get your hands on a copy and read it with your class!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How dark is the darkeness

L'Wren Scott - gone too soon

All is lost
Odds are not in favor
Triumphant are the demons

No hope to be had
The exit hidden in mire
Victorious is the darkness

The soul bares the burden
Of calling it quits
The loved ones remain

Forever racked in despair