Friday, May 16, 2008


We are MCAS'ing today. As much as I loathe these tests on so many levels, they are good times for reflection, reading and thinking. During our three hours today, I thought about how I'd like to rearrange the classroom, how I could have been a better teacher to these kids, how I'm looking forward to summer and tomatoes...lots to ponder. I'm also reading When Kids Can't Read by Kylene Beers. It's phenomenal. I can't say enough about the practical information contained in this book. I don't know why I waited so long--it has been on my shelf for about five years, I think. Combined with what I've read in Reading Don't Fix No Chevy's, Boy Writers, and Inside Words, I have a lot of reworking I want to do with my curriculum next year so that I can better help our struggling kids. I've let our school's curriculum dictate what's happening in my room for too long now. Next year the kids are first, not the curriculum. Period.

During the test I was glancing around at the kids to make sure everyone was doing what they should, and I caught Vincent with his book open in his lap, totally ignoring his Math MCAS. Now, I'd like to say that I was distressed. Honestly, I was DELIGHTED. Vincent didn't read much at the beginning of the year; he had trouble knowing what he liked and finding books that weren't too hard (or too boring). He's completely engrossed in the Cirque du Freak series right now, and he loved David Lubar. Of course, I told him to put the book away and keep working on his test...but he knew that I was secretly pleased. I LIVE for moments like this! :)

Tomorrow Larry and I are driving down to Lichtfield, Connecticut to visit White Flower Farm. The story behind the owners and the farm start-up is charming, and I love that they continue with the "Amos Pettingill" deception. (The farm was actually started by two wealthy New York City escapees--you can read about it in...oh, heck. I'll have to look up the title.) Anyway, the catalog and website are delightful. I'm hoping to score some liatris and some great shade plants. I've already ordered my bulbs from them, to be delivered in September. I'm not quite sure what I'll do with 150 tulip and daffodil bulbs...but it's my kind of dilemma!

We also ordered beef from them. White Flower has just started their own all natural livestock raising and sales and we thought we'd give it a shot. We'll pick that up, too... since shipping would have been over $50! I understand, but whew. Besides, I wanted an excuse to visit the farm.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


"What are friends for, my mother asks.
a duty undone, visit missed,
casserole unbaked for sick Jane.
Someone has just made her bitter.

Nothing. They are for nothing, friends,
I think. All they do in the end--
they touch you. They fill you like music."
--Rosellen Brown

We were in Kansas, or Missouri maybe. Or maybe it was Florida; the trips begin to run together. It was hot--July--so hot the pool almost wasn't refreshing. The hotel rooms were cool, with their air conditioners and polyester floral print bedspreads. Katie was there with Stephanie, just a little girl. We cooed and oohed and aahed and talked babies and books and teaching. Sara was absolutely in love, besotted, with this grandbaby, and she was unselfish and generous in her willingness to share her family's joy with all of us.

The flip side is that today we share her grief. Stephanie is gone, aged 7 (just barely). And I cannot stop thinking of that day in the hotel room, with that beautiful blonde baby girl who was making her mother and grandmother so happy. Who always made her mother and grandmother so happy. I do not know what to say, or do.

But I do know that Sara and her family have touched us--me--and filled us with music. And though there are no words, I hope that they know that I am full up with and for them, and I am so very sorry.