Thursday, September 10, 2015

My 9-11...Where were you?

14 Years Ago Today.... Where were you?

Now that I look back, I am not sure why my class was outside on the playground at 9:03 AM. We started school at 8:03 and that seems too early for a recess break. I happened to be in my room preparing for a lesson while another teacher took my kids outside for a brief recess.  They weren't out but for a few minutes when my phone rang in my classroom.

My fiance at the time and now my husband, Paul was calling me. I wondered why he would be calling me so early in the day. He asked me if I knew what had happened. Know what?

He told me to turn on my tv in my classroom. My heart sank. Two planes had crashed into the Twin Towers in New York City. I didn't understand. He filled me in on the details as I watched it replay over and over on the tv. Panic started to set in. One plane is an accident (maybe) but two? This could be the unthinkable.

I immediately thought of Paul's brother, Dave,  who lived in New York at the time and worked in Manhattan. He hadn't heard from Dave.  The phone lines were so bogged down so he couldn't get through to him.

No sooner did I begin to put the pieces of the events together and realize this could be worse than ever imagined when my students were hustled back into my classroom. We were told to turn off our tvs and leave them off, say nothing to the kids and go into lock down.

My classroom was my home away from home. My students were (and still are) my family. I was responsible for all of these littles who belong to loving and now scared parents. I was scared.

My thoughts, as weird as they sound, went to a movie I saw many years ago called Red Dawn. The image of the enemy falling out the sky in parachutes outside of the school windows pierced my mind. All I thought of was how was I going to protect these children if this became the unimaginable (not just what was contained in the tv screen like another drama show).

I thought I would huddle my students into the cubbies in the classroom and put myself between them and the windows. Of course, I knew it couldn't possibly come to that. Or could it?

 I had to go through the rest of the day on lockdown and act as if nothing was wrong except to acknowledge the occasional frantic parent coming in to take their child. Believe me, I would have rushed right up to the school to get my babies.

In many different places, the unthinkable was happening right  in front of our eyes.

Planes crashing all over. Are there more? Where? When? How? Why? Then buildings falling. Sadness and grief for loved ones and strangers. Anger.

There was an erie silence in the school. Whispers of bits of new information gathered from phone calls were being relayed. Everyone was wondering what tomorrow would be like after the kids found out what had happened. How do we respond? Little did we comprehend at that moment that a new era had begun.
Dave, Paul's brother was ok. He got halfway to work only to be turned around and headed back home.

Our friends were staying near Broadway on a business trip. They decided to make it a family trip with their new baby. As Bill said goodbye to Emily that morning, she said she had the weirdest dream about a plane crash in New York. She is a very level-headed person and she doesn't say things like that normally. She felt weird about it. They said goodbye and Bill went off to Jersey for a meeting leaving her in their hotel with their new baby. I could have some of the facts wrong or missed some but there she was when the planes crashed in a big city alone with her baby and all hell breaking loose. Bill was now stuck on the other side of the river and couldn't get back. I can't imagine being in the midst of all of that chaos. I was afraid and overwhelmed just watching it on tv. There is no way to understand the scope of such a disaster through a television set. There are so many more stories from that day.

Strangely, after school that day, I had an appointment at the mall. Because I was forced to have as normal of a day at school like the day before, I drove to my appointment thinking that is what everyone was doing. Maybe in disbelief or uncertainty, I thought that I shouldn't miss my appointment. I was not sure what I was going to find as I drove there. 

I found a deserted parking lot with a few people scattered here and there possibly with the same thoughts I had. Do we go on as usual?  I was stunned by the days events. I even went up to the door to be sure it was actually closed. It was locked. It was spooky. At that moment, I felt alone, in a bubble even though there were two people standing near the door. We all looked at each other with apprehension. I got back into my car and drove home. 

Things began to change immediately. Locks and cameras were put on outside doors at our schools. Airports changed over night (for the better in some ways). Security everywhere was revamped. The word "terrorist" became a word never to be uttered on aviation property.

Flags went up everywhere. It seemed like everyone was friendlier on the street than the day before. Like we weren't strangers anymore. Like we had each other's back. There was that wink of "they aren't going to beat us." Patriotism and American pride was making a comeback. Together we stand.

It is a day I will never forget. I will never forget the feelings and emotions that I had.  Nobody will forget the day that changed the climate of our country.

 I wanted to share my experience with you. Where were you that day?

I will share another related story about post 911 that I experienced a few weeks later in another post. It is one that really allowed me to see 911 from the eyes of the people in the buildings that day.

God Bless all of the people who lost their lives 14 years ago (I can't believe it has been that long), God Bless their families and God Bless America!

Check out my friend, Christy's experience as a Detroit reporter sent to NYC on 911.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Who Wears These Humble Shoes?

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

Every shoe has tongue,

They all have a sole.
And a story to be told.

No matter what they look like
Whether old or new,
They are all quite different
Every single shoe.

Take the time to learn
What they have to say.
A whole different person.
Will be revealed today.

He's lived a life we'll never know.
He's inspired one and all.
To try walk in this man's shoes.
We would surely fall.

He had a set of false teeth, which he carried in a fold of his loin cloth ("Loin cloth? Good Lord!"). He put them in his mouth only when he wanted to eat. After his meal, he took them out, washed them and put them back in his loin cloth again. 
He spoke English with an Irish accent, for one of his first teachers was an Irishman. He was educated at London University and became an attorney. But the first time he attempted to make a speech in court, his knees trembled, and he was so frightened that he had to sit down in confusion and defeat. As a lawyer in London, he got nowhere at all. He waspractically a failure there.
However, despite this worldly success he was not happy. On seeing the untold misery of millions of his fellow countrymen; on seeing thousand of them dying of starvation; the worldly success seemed cheap and unimportant to him. He gave up all his money and ‘took the vow of poverty, and since that time, he consecrated his life to helping the poor and the downtrodden.
He experimented with diets to see how cheaply he could live and remain healthy. He started living principally on fruit and goats’ milk and olive oil. He had been greatly influenced by the teachings of an American by the name of David Thoreau. 
He never visited the US, but he had many American fans and followers. One of his more unusual admirers was Henry Ford. 
He inspired millions of people world over to take the path of non-violence and civil disobedience. Though inspiring 5 world leaders who got Noble Peace prize viz. Martin Luther King Jr. (USA), Dalai Lama (Tibet), Aung San Suu Kyi (Myanmar), Nelson Mandela (S. Africa) and Adolfo Perez Esquivel (Argentina), he never got a Noble Prize himself !
Click here to find out who's shoes these are and read a cute fact about his shoes.

What did you think about walking in these shoes?

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer Rules!!

Well, summer vacation has arrived. There is relief from waking up early and getting dressed before 7. No need to make breakfast and lunch simultaneously in a 15 minute period. (Unless I forget the lunch part until 1 minute before we have to run out the door! Then I could win the fastest lunch making contest with the most amount of swearwords uttered in a 1 minute period while shoving lunch boxes and bags into the arms of my turtle-like children who see no urgency of the situation.) I don't have to stress about leaving at 7:32 instead of 7:28 because leaving 4 minutes later means I still arrive on time but avoid a traffic backup.  I don't have to make sure homework is done, projects underway and tests studied for. Ahhhh.

Now, I will just enjoy summer lazy.... for the next couple of days.

Then comes, summer reality!

Summer Rules!!

Sleep in as late as possible. If the clock says 7, go back to sleep!
We're Team Housey so every day, we must:
Make our beds and make sure the floor is picked up.
Brush our teeth (summer mouth not allowed).
Dress by 10. Neighbor kids start-a-knockin' and we don't want them to know we wear super hero undies.
School practice (math facts, spanish, etc) before any video games or play.
No more than 1 hour of video games a day. Sorry. I suffer too because you are more contained and quiet playing but I know it is not good for you and I want the best for you.
DEAR time once a day or more for EVERYONE! Drop Everything And Read
If you aren't OUTSIDE playing with your friends and family, you can help with chores.
Pool everyday if possible.
Movies on rainy days.
Walk the dogs.
Each day, one person picks a dinner and helps prepare it.
Those not making dinner set the table.
No leaving any dishes in the sink and empty dishwasher when full.
You can stay up late if you are having fun playing outside and you sleep in the next day.

This may seem like a lot but kids need structure and need to know what is expected of them. They need some organization and need to know the value of time.  If they want a sane mom who takes them to do fun things, then I need help. We are a team and work together. They know that if they don't help then I have to do it all by myself. While having a fun summer, they can still learn, help and be productive.

Time for fun in the sun! Have a great summer!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Text Evader

Don't you just love reading the same book over and over and over again to your child? Especially a Dr. Seuss book?? Me, too...NOT.

It is perfectly normal for a child to want to read the same book over and over. And perfectly and insanely normal for a child to ask you to read the same book over and over. They obviously enjoy the book and spending time with you.

This is all part of the reading process and truly helps develop your child's reading skills.

You read a book for the first time to your child. You know they enjoyed it because they ask you read it again. Most of the time we are happy to oblige (unless we don't like the book then it's best to hide it immediately). Every night for the next week, we read the same book again and again even though we've tried many times to introduce a new one. After the 10th time reading it, we attempt to skip chunks of text (don't deny it) or even pages (we all have). Maybe the first time, we get away with it.
Then the reading police are on to us, the TEXT EVADERS.

"You skipped some words!"
"You forgot a page."
Or they wait until the last page to say, "Wait, where's the part about...?"
Big text evader mistake. Now you have to read it again.

This is all because they have started to memorize the text. This is a good thing. Once they start to memorize the text they begin to notice some things.

-Those black symbols have meaning.
-The pictures on the page have some connection to those black shapes.
-We read and move through a book from left to right.

Now your child wants to impress you by reading the book by themselves. We know they've memorized it but we cheer them on and give them encouragement. Important!! As they read the same book over and over, they begin to notice more things.

-Those black symbols form words that are separated by spaces (like stones in a river).
-Some of those words repeat themselves throughout the book (sight or high-frequency words- the, and, are...).
-The words match the pictures on the pages.
-There are patterns in the text.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Read this text: 只狗
What?! It says, "I have a dog." That is what they see at first. Imagine how difficult it would be if someone gave you a new Chinese or Spanish book every time you sat down to read before you knew how to read the language. It would be frustrating and cause anxiety. This is why reading the same book over and over helps to develop a confidence in reading which is far more important than learning new words too fast.

Allow your child to enjoy books at their speed and encourage them to read with you. Again, it is important to model reading to your child by reading aloud to them and letting them see you enjoying your own books.

Things to do with your child early on while reading...

-Talk to them about the parts of a book (cover, author, illustrator, read left to right.) It doesn't seem important now but it will give them a leg up...a word up, when they go to school.

-Point to the words while you read so they can see that those symbols having meaning.

-Have your child point to the words as they read to teach them one-to-one correspondence (each group of letters separated by a space have meaning).

-Before reading a page, talk to your child about what they see in the picture first to teach them to use the pictures as clues.

More about how to become a better reader here:

Watch for future educational posts to help your child. Let me know if this was helpful to you. Feel free to ask questions. 

I have degrees in Early Childhood, Elementary education and a Masters in the Art of Teaching. I taught preschool through 2nd Grade for many years. I have been trained in Orton Gillingham. I am an award winning children's book author and creator of Flip Side Stories®. 

Read, re-read and read again!! Read On!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Kids Who Read...

How do young children become good readers? Well, of course they need to learn the basics like phonics (letter sounds) and learn sight words or high-frequency words (and, the, from, etc.- words that appear most frequently and should be known automatically by a reader)

Reading (and being read to) makes you a better reader. And that means reading anything and everything from signs on the road to comic books and novels. The more you read, the better reader you will become and the more fluent reader you will become.

As young children read, they become more familiar with patterns in the text and in words themselves. They begin to notice the words that appear more frequently (sight words). When they listen to someone read to them, they learn about expression and how words and sentences should sound.

Many people tell me that their child (of all ages) doesn't want to read and they show no interest in reading. It is important to figure out what inspires or interests your children no matter what age. If they like sports, give them sport magazines or books. If they like cartoons and comic books, let them read those. Another option if they aren't confident readers is to buy books on tape. Let them read along in the book with a tape. They will be able to hear another reader using expression while they track the text on the page. A great series on tape is Harry Potter. The reader on the tape does a great job changing his voice to match the characters. It is a fun read on tape. My son started with that and began reading the rest of the series on his own.

Books on tape are great for older children (middle school and older) as well. Many older children claim they are too tired to read and there may be truth to that. They do sleep a lot. Or, they are just not interested in reading. So a book on tape is great on the go or while laying in bed while they read along. Be sure it is not the abridged edition if they are reading the full-length book. Hearing someone else read it can make it a little more interesting. I think it is important for the reader to have the book in hand when they can to read along. This strategy may be helpful by opening them up to books they didn't know they would like. Obviously, the best option is for them to read on their own, but we are trying to inspire those kids who don't have an interest in reading.

Other ideas,
Give your child a recipe to read to you while you are cooking.
Find an (short) article in a magazine or newspaper that they might be interested in like about  
   an athlete they like, an event you might attend or a place to visit.
Have your child read to a younger child (make them feel like they are helping not practicing reading).
Have your child read directions for building something or putting a toy or game together.

Let them choose the books they are comfortable with and offer them opportunities to read all day.

Let me know if this was helpful to you. Feel free to ask questions. I have degrees in Early Childhood, Elementary education and a Masters in the Art of Teaching. I taught preschool through 2nd Grade for many years. I have been trained in Orton Gillingham.

More reading advice in future posts... When should I start teaching my child to read? Is it ok if my child  wants to read the same book over and over?

The more you read, the better reader you become. So, READ!

Text Evader- When your child wants you to read the same book over and over.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rue'd Awakening- Hungry? Bite on this!

 I am reading the Hunger Games right now. I am really enjoying it. I reminisce about an article I read about Hunger Games and the racial stir it caused which made me very sad. To think there are people in the world who still make it difficult for everyone else to live in a world of acceptance and tolerance of race, religion and uniquenesses. 

Honestly. The sad truth is that it is that bigots are born of bigots. It is the passing down of ignorance. They aren't born with those views. Sadly, those views will be passed down again and again. Fortunately, even though we hear such racial bigotry today, it is better now than it has ever been. President Obama was elected (twice) because our country is open to a president who can do the job not a race. You can like him or not, but it isn't about the color of someone's skin, it's about people believing he is right for the job. Maybe we'll have a woman president some day. That is a good sign that our country (and world) is trying to see things from the "Flip Side". I don't see racism ever going away from all races, religions and cultures but it's changing and evolving. 
Racism will continue to be passed down (within all races, cultures and religions) but maybe it will become so diluted that they (the bigots) alone will be the minority. Hating them isn't necessarily the answer. Fighting against the influence is. Making it unacceptable is. People are who they are and it's important to surround yourself with people who make you a better person. Stand up for humanity and human race as a whole. We are a melting pot of beautiful people. A world where seeing another point of view can make a better you!

This is the article that has triggered such a stir. Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Very Disappointed

What do M & Ms and people have in common?

We are all different on the outside but the same on the inside.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Flip Side Snowflake

Flip Side Snowflake


Six 8x11 pieces of white paper
A pen
Tape or glue 
glitter or glitter glue (optional)

When you watch the video, I think I made a mistake. 
You cut on the "one fold" side not the double folded side. Sorry!