Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Filed Under "Observations of a Third Culture Kid"



As we walk from the parking lot to the sanctuary I look over and notice she is cowering under her hands.

"I need an umbrella," she comments.

Chuckling to myself, "It's just mist."

She isn't satisfied with my answer. 

"You aren't from around here, are you?" I add.

This gets under her third culture skin. As we cross the street she shares the strategy she has come up with.

"I'll just think of it as blowing sand - you just squint and tilt your head down for both."

This observation of hers has stayed with me. Not only is it true, but it is such a clear illustration of my child who is 'from' Seattle and lives in the sandbox known as Saudi.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My daughter



My daughter
no longer a little girl.
So big
and smart
and sassy!

"Mom!" has replaced the cherished "Mommy!"

She's 8 and heading to third grade and
So big

Until I go to wake her up
and gently pull the hair back from her face
unearthing the sweet face that belongs to 
my little girl.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cycle of Life - Overseas Version (And a Parenting Lesson)


When you live overseas the comings and goings of people around you is part of the ebb and flow of life. This can happen at any point throughout the year, however the end of the calendar year and the end of the school year are the two most prevalent times for good-byes. 

So, after 14 years outside our home country we have become accustomed to these seasons of good-bye. Generally we have months between the news of someone leaving and the reality of the last known day together, but not always. In the last week we've been hit with two surprises that hit very close to home (as well as several more in the past two weeks in our wider circles).

While I came to know about these two instances several days apart, they became public knowledge on the same day. This alignment of stars meant that I was breaking tear inducing news to my daughter TWICE in one day.

My daughter is a natural crier. Her eyes overflow when she is filled with emotion. Her eyes leak at a satisfying end to a story, be it happy for sad. Tears are a common part of how she experiences emotions. Sometimes the tears turn to sobs and take several moments before she can continue. She and I both know this. I have to proceed with caution.

At the end of a school day the email went out to all staff that a teacher was moving - next week. Since my daughter usually stops by my room at the end of her day I wanted to make sure I was the one to break the news to her, rather than have her over hear it somewhere.

"I have something to tell you, and it might make you cry."

Her eyes got wide as she settled into my arms. "What is it?"


"Mr. [favorite teacher that she desperately hopes to have one day] is moving."

She trusts herself around my neck and holds on tight. Eventually she slowly pulls back and asks, "To where?"

At this point I am surprised that, while there is shock and sadness written all over her face, there aren't any actual tears.

***Four hours later***

"I am some more news that might make you cry."

I will spare you the details of the story. (It was absolutely precious, but this news still isn't widely known and while it isn't a secret, I sure don't want to be the one to spill the beans!) What I will tell you is this; there weren't any tears!

Reflecting upon these two incidents I am now wondering if by simply prefacing potentially devastating news with "you might cry" allows her to be prepared enough for the emotion that she can steal herself to the extremity of her feelings. Or, it could just be that she's now eight. One thing I do know, we live overseas, and there will be more opportunities to test my new delivery method.

Monday, June 5, 2017

What Are You Reading?

What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

This is what I read in May...



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pain Free: An Emotional Journey


When chronic pain is a near constant companion the emotional journey that accompanies any moments without pain is varied.

Anticipation is the genesis. The feeling of waiting for the shoe to drop, because you can't remember a time when it hasn't. You are certain the pain will start, it is simply a matter of when and at what intensity.

Disbelief follows. It may be at the end of the day, or perhaps the start of the next. You pause, perhaps in bed, realizing that you haven't had to medicate. Or that you actually went an whole day without pain as a companion. Or you wake up aware that you just slept an entire night and woke up either because the alarm went off or, even harder to believe, simply because you were ready to wake up. It wasn't pain that nudged you awake, hallelujah!

Joy follows. Wow! A day and/or night without pain! So much to be thankful for. You better have a smile on your face and a spring in your step because these moments are precious and fleeting.

The next emotion I struggle to put a name to. Pressure? It is the notion of feeling that you must use the pain free time to its utmost. The feeling that you have to get x, y, and z accomplished, while you can.

This feeling goes hand in hand with a sense of being torn - torn between wanting to be extra productive and wanting to just be - to kick back and take moments for what they are.

While you are trying to ignore angst of the previous two emotions a thought occurs to you. "Is this what 'normal' people feel like?" Is this what a pain free life is like? I could get used to this!

Analysis. What have I done differently? What do I need to continue to do (or not do) to see if this trend can continue?

This cycle may be moments or hours. If it lasts for days, pinch yourself. Whatever you do, don't do what I did. Don't say anything about it out loud.

Recently days have been strung together, days that don't include pain. I have been through all of the above emotions - several cycles for many of them. Last week I heard myself telling someone how my new medications and lifestyle changes are really helping. How I had been pain free for a little while. As I heard the words coming out of my mouth I thought, "Uh-oh. Have I just jinxed it?!"

I don't really belief in luck or jinxes, but it all seems too good to be true so why not throw the concept of fate in there as well? Then my mother-in-law asked how I was doing. When I hung up the phone I had a feeling my moments were numbered.

Sure enough, within hours, the emotional cycle got the opportunity to go back to the beginning. Well, before the beginning. Now I am waiting for the drugs to work.

Friday, May 26, 2017

She's 8!


As you turn eight I think back over your year of being seven, wanting to take a few moments to mark the occasion. The biggest thing I will remember about your being seven is that it was the year you went from calling me primarily "Mommy" to just as often, (if not predominantly) calling me "Mom". When you were little there were times you would utter "Mom", almost like you were trying it on. You would then discard it, as if it didn't quite fit. I knew the day would come and I still treasure the "Mommy"ies that are scattered throughout your language, all too aware that they are fleeting.

You continue to be enamored by words. This year that has meant a huge increase in writing everything; lists, ideas, plans, agendas, apology notes, texts (complete with emojis) - all of this as well as stories and information text and opinion pieces. Books are still constantly around us, most recently you have checked out a Star Wars recipe book and Harry Potter, so you can read it yourself (which you sometimes read softly to yourself, outloud, with accents!)

Last summer you had a pretty typical summer, for you; Sealth, Seabeck, Hi-Liners, and camping. You also got to go to Sound View. The summer you were seven is marked by being the summer you mastered building a fire, log cabin style, on your own.

You started making lunch for our family on Fridays. This is pretty cool! You generally make sandwiches and include fruit and veggies as well as something to drink. You then clean up the kitchen.Your other chores include setting the table, clearing your place, and putting your dishes in the dishwasher throughout the day. When you help cook or bake, washing dishes in the sink comes with the territory. In order to celebrate your birthday, this week you made the brownies for Brownies and the cupcakes for your class.

With a pool outside our door (and another two to choose from, depending on the position of the sun and which friends you are going to swim with) it is no surprise you have turned into a fish. In addition to swimming around for fun or completing laps, you can also be seen diving to the bottom to retrieve anything that might find its way down there, treading water, being tossed around by Daddy or a friend's dad, swimming underwater without goggles, keeping the little ones entertained, squirting jets of water, or diving off the edge.

Christmas included a week at Whistler where you loved learning how to downhill ski. You keep telling me you are ready for another ski vacation. Spring Break was a bunch warmer than Christmas and included a few days in Bangkok before we spent a week and a half in Myanmar. You and Grandma Cathy shared a room and all four of us enjoyed the adventures. Earlier in the year we went to Ethiopia for Hajj break. You take traveling in stride and it makes planning adventures easy, so we'll keep doing it!



A stage, be it in your room by yourself, the living room with guests, or the big stage in the auditorium - they are all places you love to perform. Your love of musical theater has especially grown this year; Hamilton, A Chorus Line, Cats, The Music Man, and Carousel are your biggest favorites at the moment. You absolutely nailed your solo (with Daddy accompanying you on the piano) of "Gary Indiana" at the Talent Show on your ultimate day of being seven. Dancing is part of what you love to perform as well, and Dance Club has afforded you several opportunities throughout the year.

Exercising your creativity and design thinking have been areas you have developed this year as well. Maker Space became a thing for you and often your room (and the downstairs as often as you could get away with it) overflowed with your creations.

I love you and can't wait to see what eight brings!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Fresh Look


The sports banquet is tonight. We don't have time to get home and back, so we spend the time at school. My husband's time seems to fill with meetings. Assessments are scattered across my desk, among open resources for tweaking my teaching plans to fit what I have learned about my students today. When after school activities finish my daughter joins me. She asks if we can read.

"Of course!" is my response as I arrange the pillows for us to snuggle up. She grabs Intersteller Cinderella. As soon as I close that book she scampers off to grab Ida Twist, Scientist. I close that book, she pauses with a content smile on her face, and then is off to pluck Iggy Peck, Architect.

"Would you like to re-read it to yourself?" I ask, trying to get a bit more work accomplished.

She returns with Spoon as her response.

"Let's go see how things are looking in the gym." I suggest as I need to get some movement in before we sit all evening. When we return to my room, after oohing and ahhing over the decorations she pauses and looks around my room.

"You have SO many books!"

"Doesn't every classroom have lots of books?" 

"But yours are really good books!"

I smiled as she went about rediscovering things in my room and I worked through some more stacks on my desk. My smile was because she's right. I do have good books. I work hard to ensure that I do. It's fun to watch her develop as a reader and notice these things for herself. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Not Ninja Day



There is a tournament at our school this weekend. One of the ways we are preparing is by having a spirit week. Sunday we all wore our pajamas, which is an added bonus on Mother's Day. Yesterday was Meme Monday, which elicited quite a bit of dialogue to figure out what the high schoolers meant. Today is Twin Tuesday.

As a teacher who is concerned about the community of people in my classroom, I never have a twin day in which I don't announce what I am wearing so anyone is free to join me. This alleviates people feeling left out because no one invited them to be a twin with them. In the last few years I have encouraged my classes to make it a whole class thing, which is fun. Last Thursday we discussed what each day would be and when we got to Twin Day. I let the class decide what we would wear. The consensus? All black.

"Fun! We can sneak around and have a ninja day."

"Oh! I can borrow the eye part from my mom."

It only took me one beat to realize that I had to put a kibosh on Ninja Day.

It isn't that I am a party pooper. It isn't that I am against added fun for our day, in fact I have a BreakoutEDU planned. If I lived in the States a Ninja Day could be really fun, but I don't. I live here. Ninja eye masks, borrowed from moms, could be seen as highly insensitive. So, we are all wearing all black. We are sneaking around. We are most certainly NOT having a Ninja Day.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Getting The Ding Fixed



A ding showed up on our windshield. My husband, Jonathan, said it happened while he was driving the 300+ km highway between where we live and Jeddah; a truck threw a rock. It is surprising it hasn't happened to us before as we have plied the highways of the Middle East for a dozen years.

There were a few days between when we got home from Spring Break and Jonathan was to leave for a week. Ideally we would get the ding fixed and wouldn't have to replace the entire windshield. As long as the ding doesn't spread it won't won't impair anyone's line of vision (except the GoPro when we are off roading - sigh). The bits of missing glass are right in the middle, low on the windshield.

We have a colleague who has lived here for a long time and seems to know all things cars. Jonathan inquired as to where one would go to have a ding filled. With GPS coordinates in hand, he headed out.

There are often just windows of time (pun intended) in which to get things done here. Everything closes five times a day for prayer. Thankfully there is an app for that so you can plan your outings. He took all of this into consideration, including what time the taxi was taking him to the airport, and drove across town. He timed it to arrive just before prayer would be finishing. Something about "the best laid plans" and, as is not infrequent, the business chose to not open right away. Jonathan had succeeded in locating the shop, but couldn't talk to anyone, let alone get the work done.

Since I don't get to drive here I asked a friend of ours to take me on the field trip while Jonathan was gone. He and Jonathan chatted about where the shop was and the GPS coordinates were passed along. One evening our daughter went for a playdate and I headed out on the field trip. 

We drove to the shop, explained what we needed (being sure to include gestures and pointing at the ding to aid with any needed translation). As soon as the ding was pointed out the several guys who had gathered around all called for the same man. Emerging from a work area he walked right up to our vehicle, pulled out his tool, and placed a suction cup over the ding.

The friend and I were feeling pretty proud of ourselves for succeeding with so little effort. I am certain we were visibly puffing up with pride. The worker then rotated his wrist and the tool began to draw a circle on the windshield. As the circumferences continued, realization hit, he was CUTTING a circle in the glass around the ding.



As he finished he tapped on the glass, both from the inside and outside, and beaming with a job done quickly and well, sent us on our way.

We drove off in utter shock.

Eventually these thoughts started cycling...
Yup, the ding isn't going to spread across the entire windshield.
Wow.
I'm pretty sure this isn't what my husband had in mind.

I've never seen anything like it!
How about I don't rush to tell Jonathan about this.
Perhaps we will buy a new windshield.

Wow.

Monday, May 1, 2017

What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Here are my April books. (As you can deduce from the list, it was a crazy month!)



Monday, April 3, 2017

What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? From Picture Books to YA! 
It's Monday! What are you Reading? is a meme started by Sheila at Book Journeys and now hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It is a great way to recap what you read and/or reviewed the previous week and to plan out your reading and reviews for the upcoming week. It's also a great chance to see what others are reading right now...you just might discover your next “must-read” book!
Jen at Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee of Unleashing Readers decided to give It's Monday! What Are You Reading? a kidlit focus. If you read and review books in children's literature - picture books, chapter books, middle grade novels, young adult novels, anything in the world of kidlit - join us! We love this meme and think you will, too. We encourage everyone who participates to visit at least three of the other kidlit book bloggers that link up and leave comments for them.

Here are my March books...



Friday, March 31, 2017

And Another March Comes To A Close

And another March comes to a close. 

Thank you to Stacey and Ruth for your vision ten years ago. 

Thank you to the current co-authors for leading us through this year's journey. 

Thank you to everyone who shared their writing, be it one day or 31 days. 

Thank you to everyone who commented and supported writers this month. 

Until Tuesday
This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

What Makes For A Great Day?


This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.

What makes for a great day?

Professional Devopment: Student Centered Coaching with Diane Sweeney

Me Time: foot massage(s)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Shhh! Don't Tell, But I Love _____

This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.

What would show up if we have one day of the Slice of Life Challenge dedicated to secret obsessions? Ramona got me thinking about it with this post

The idea reminded me of Glee - both because Glee could be a secret obsession itself and because Glee had episodes dealing with some of the characters secret obsessions. In the episode, "Guilty Pleasures", this is the thread running among the storylines with secret musical obsessions like Wham and Barry Manilow, as well as unspoken love interests. It is possible that three of the four previously mentioned possibilities could be attributed to me. (No secret love interests here, sorry for killing the suspense.)

What else do I or have I obsessed about?

Most recently Hamilton would fall into this category. I read the book, listened to the soundtrack excessively, watched every Ham4Ham, listened to every interview, and followed the original cast on social media.

My first secret obsession? Menudo. The first boy band of my generation was fueled by Bop magazine. My love for Ricky Martin didn't die when he became a solo artist. In fact, I will still get up and dance when ever his tunes are played. 

Anyone else?

Seattle Memories - The Kingdome

This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.

I am sure I am not alone in this phenomenon. You're scrolling through your Facebook feed and someone posts something that brings memories flooding back, something you haven't thought of in ages.


This is where I was taken - Seattle's Kingdome. It wasn't a story of the grandeur that she brought it to mind, it was the occasion of the Kingdome's implosion. I am guessing that it was this local news story that reminded her. (She is a very busy woman and I am certain she is not keeping track of things like this in her spare time.) So now I'm pondering this Seattle icon.

Besides seeing it dominate the skyline, my earliest memories of the Kingdom were of the paper airplane contests that were held inside. (You can read articles from the 1970s & 1980s here and here.) What a great idea! Take a humongous, inside area with a huge open space in the middle. Place circles on the ground with different prizes to be won if your plane lands inside particular spaces, line people up around the upper decks, make sure they put their name and phone number on the paper, and let them fly.

I have very fuzzy memories of being taken to an NFL game, but have no true memories of it myself.

I have spent hours and hours and hours in the Kingdome in the 90s, though. I am a 1995 "Refuse To Lose" convert to the game of baseball and a diehard Mariner fan ever since. I bought tickets to tons of single games for the duration of the Kingdome and continued those first years at Safeco Field and finally also purchasing partial season tickets. (Living overseas has changed how I experience baseball, but that's another post.) I have been fortunate to be a most of the major moments in Mariner history and the Kingdome was a part of those.

This was the fate of the icon...

Back then photos were taken with film. I have one, from that morning. It was a Sunday. I was riding up to Crystal Mountain to teach skiing with what is now Outdoors For All. As we drove by, at sunrise, I realized it was the last time I would see the Kingdome mostly intact and I snapped a picture. The colors are pink, there is a full moon hanging above. Prior to the actual implosion they had some work to do in deconstructing some of the monolith to ensure it would actually implode when they pushed the button (or flipped the switch, or whatever they did to make the implosion happen). The picture is at my other house so I can't share it with you here. I titled it "Full Moon, Half Dome".

Seventeen years the Seattle skyline has been without this icon. That was the point of my friend's post. How has it been that long? Yet the life I lived then seemed more than 17 years and 8,000 miles away. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

(Random Kingdome trivia and memories here.)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Poem In Your Pocket Day

This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.
This week is Reading Week and today is 'Poem In Your Pocket Day'. 

I choose to do our poetry unit in April. One reason is because it is National Poetry Month in the US, so there are lots of ideas floating around, but that isn't my main reason.

I like the timing of April for poetry. I find it to be an engaging way to return from Spring Break. Plus, it is a shorter unit and we only have school for a couple of weeks that month. 

All of that being said, I did not do a bunch of prep with my students for today. I did mention it yesterday, reminding them that they could bring one with them. During writing time this morning one of their options was to write a poem, but I didn't push it and barely encouraged it. 

So, I am pleasantly surprised to look around the room during snack and see several students sharing poems with one another - boys and girls alike. One student even brought me a poem to add to the one in my pocket (that I had jotted on a sticky note this morning).

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Confession, Memories, and a Cliffhanger

This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.
I read Leah's post that was inspired by Whistle Pops. You can read it here. "It's funny how a picture can bring back a flood of memories in an instant." is how she starts her Slice. She closes with an image gallery of candy from her childhood. Now I am awash in memories myself.

One candy that she doesn't have pictured are Now and Laters. Did you eat these as a child? If not, think extra hard and sticky versions of Starburst. (There may be consequences for my writing this, as I know my mom reads my blog.) Confession: Mom, it wasn't apples or carrots that popped off the back brackets of my braces. There. I said it.


As I contemplate candy from my childhood the following items gurgle up from my memories:
Fun Dip
Pop Rocks
Nerds
Ring Pops
Lemon Heads

Boston Baked Beans
Spree

Runts
Sour Patch Kids
Gobstoppers
Bottle Caps
Charlston Chews
Necco Wafers

I am struck that there isn't any chocolate on this list. These days I can pass on candy just about any time, it's chocolate that gets me. When did the chocolate things start? Whatchamacallit is fun to say. It is the chocolate bar I think of from childhood (besides plain Hershey bars for s'mores), but it wasn't something I had a thing for. High school is when my first chocolate memories begin; Peanut M&Ms (for breakfast), Skor bars (with Coke Slushies), and selling the chocolate caramel band fundraiser bars to myself.

One more memory - the first picture on Leah's post is this...


I figured that I must have written about this before, but a search of my blog shows nothing. I am not ready to write about it today, either. I am sure it will come out one day.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Mom's Snorkel Outing

This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.

One of the only things that was on my mom's 'must do' list while visiting us in Saudi Arabia was to go snorkeling. Today was the day we had set aside for the outing. 

There is a great beach just over an hour north of us. The coral is fabulous. It sits in a small bay. Best of all, the National Guard oversee the area and when we register they will close the beach off to non-Western expats so we can wear whatever we want. It's been nicknamed "Bikini Beach".

The first thing I noticed when we paused at the bluff above the beach was that there were two boats anchored in the bay, which I have never seen before. When we pulled up next to the water there was a breeze blowing - enough of a breeze that putting our sun shade up in its normal 'tent' format would just blow it out to the water, even with the stakes.

The guys who were diving got into their gear and headed out. (Full body wetsuits as well as being below the surface of the water were two factors that would be very different for them than for those snorkeling.)

I am a wuss. I don't like to be cold. Plus I live here. I don't have to get in when the conditions are not ideal. I plopped down to enjoy the view and watch my daughter construct grand things in the sand.

My husband comes back in to take my daughter snorkeling. She tells of all the pink and purple coral she saw and describes many fish that fascinated her.

My mom sat next to me. 

"Who will believe that it was too cold?!" I imagine her saying to people back home. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Once you are packed the trip can start, right?

This post is part of the Slice of Life March Challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.
Check it out and join us.
Once you are packed the trip can start, right?

I wish it was that easy to set a calendar - the second you close your back the clock automatically strikes the minute of departure. (Sometimes it is the opposite, you want time to freeze until you can get it all packed.)



I am packed, if you count everything that needs to go into the suitcase is either in a pile or written on the list as 'packed'. Sub plans are complete, if you count the highlighted section that I can't fill in until I see how Sunday's and Monday's lessons go. The taxi reservations are actually made and confirmed, as are the plane tickets, but I can't check in yet.

And then there is the can of worms that has just opened up regarding electronics while flying. Currently this trip will not be impacted, but I realize rules can change at any point. I wish I didn't have to take my laptop, but I am presenting at a conference so it is necessary. I have convinced my husband that we can share one. (He arrives after I present and can use mine for work while I switch over to my phone.)