Magic Apple for Teachers

DSC_0007Yesterday my son, Agent 006, got this letter in the mail from his soon-to-be-second grade teacher. It included Magic Confetti,DSC_0011 to help him sleep well on the night before school.

Thanks, Mrs. J! My son is not the only person who will be starting school totally confident that he has the best teacher in the whole wide world. I slept like Mama Bear in her cave last night.

So here’s a special wish for all teachers today–may your first day of school be promising and fun! Thank you for all that you have already done for the families and children you lead deeper into a learned life. You are truly appreciated.

Kids Reach For Confetti

Kids Reach For Confetti (Photo credit: librarianjill)

This article is part of amomnextdoor’s Magic Apple series: sharing ideas for magic moments with kids.

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Friday the 13th Protest

As a former teacher, I’m often asked by other moms what I think about the education that’s happening in our California public schools. I can go on and on, but it comes down to this: Money matters. Thanks, Mr. Peabody, for your rousing call to action. Personally, I’ll be nursing the Birthday Girl‘s 103.8 fever, so if you can get out there and tell our legislators to put OUR money where their mouths are, do it!

Mr. Peabody

Fellow Teachers, Parents, Citizens and California Neighbors,

We have cut our schools to the bone and then into the bone and Prop 30 and the Governor’s budget are not going to do more than stem the bleeding. The bones are still weak and have been weak since Californians passed Prop 13 thirty-five years ago (almost to the day). From overcrowded kindergarten classes to overpriced university classes, we are paying for our financial mistakes with the miseducation of an entire generation, the decimation of our schools, our libraries and our cities.

One field trip could change all that. Enough with the cutting of librarians, arts in the schools, music programs. Enough with overworked, underpaid teachers, and classroom conditions which do not and will not foster the critical thinking and innovation we need to save our economy and environment! Mark your calendars:

Let’s takeover Sacramento on Friday the 13th, 9/13/13, and demand…

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006, Secret Agent

This could be my son in a few years...Photo credit: Cynthia Smoot

This could be my son in a few years…
Photo credit: Cynthia Smoot

Age six has been a miracle for my son and me. If you’ve read about my daughter, the Birthday Girl, turning Three, you already know that

1) my son was Three for two years, and

2) I suck at Three.

Really. I probably wasn’t very good at it when I was Three. In fact, the only story I have of me at Three took place almost exactly 38 years ago, just before Easter. We had already decorated eggs, and I came inside from the front yard looking for my mom.

“If I die, will my Easter eggs go to heaven with me?” I wanted to know. It took her a while to figure out that the reason I had this burning question was because I had just eaten some mushrooms as a kind of morbid experiment. There–now you know all about age Three.

My son had a legitimate claim to his prolonged exploration of Three. I had the audacity to be enormously pregnant or nursing his new baby sister for most of his original age Three, so he quite sensibly stayed Three until I had time to pay proper attention to it. Continue reading

Scenes From Singapore

Singapore Parliament House @ the Heart of the City

Singapore Parliament House @ the Heart of the City (Photo credit: williamcho)

Singapore was a very difficult place for me to be. No doubt a huge part of that was being so far from my family. I loved the people I met and worked with, saw and tasted many beautiful and interesting things, but after about eight days away from my children, my body started to fall apart.

Last year it was my children’s bodies that deteriorated. I came home from ten days in Singapore to a daughter with a staph infection on  top of hand, foot & mouth disease, and a son with a burst eardrum. This year a bug bite attempted to attack my entire leg before the excellent medical care in Singapore intervened with a timely shot in the butt.

It was an incredible privilege to be invited across the world to teach a writing camp to young Singaporean writers. The kids were eager, adventurous and welcoming. My colleagues were industrious and intrepid about trying completely new ways of thinking about teaching kids to write.

These consummate hosts went to great pains to introduce me to the incredible sights and especially the exquisite cuisine of Singapore.  Although the relentless urbanity, devoted consumerism and polished presentation of this particular city were not to my taste overall, I did find a great many experiences to treasure during my two visits there. Continue reading