Love Letters

I didn’t know I had a really good idea about connecting families, stories, and souls until I charmed my way into Tanglewood for free one evening with a couple of new friends. I was on a little weekend getaway by myself. This is a very new experience for me and I must say it is wonderful. I met some ladies staying at the same place as me and we were just down the road from Tanglewood, the Summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. On a glorious Saturday evening, we decided to hike down the road and sit in the parking lot to have a listen. Instead, I calmly marched us right up to gate and explained we would really like to come in. As if I was Obi Wan waving my hand in a Jedi mind trick, the security guards produced tickets and opened the gate. Voila. My new gal pals were giddy and convinced I am a witch. I am not a witch. Not in the least.

Our evening was delightful and as we laughed our way into the night, we began to swap stories and anecdotes of our personal lives. During the show I had been writing in a journal and one of the ladies asked me about it. I told her it’s my daughter’s book and she looked perplexed. I began to tell her the method to my madness. I found myself revealing a passionate writing process taken up by my family. I hadn’t set out to boast, expose, or instruct. However, we spend a short while walking and discussing the beautiful gift our family has created. One of the ladies asked me if I would mind if she shared my idea with some new moms she knows. She said it was something she wished she had for herself…I told her to share it with everyone. It was then I knew I should write this down and give it to you.

When my doctor told us we were pregnant with my oldest child, I began writing in a journal. This was a bit different than a personal journal because it was written to my baby. I just let myself stream of conscious work out whatever was happening for me. I knew enough of myself to not create any harsh deadlines or rules. When I wanted or needed to say something I wrote it down. When I was worried, I wrote it down. When I went to the doctor or had a discussion with my husband, I wrote it down. Not every day. I have several journals filled now and my daughter is currently five. I tell her anything. I talk about stuff that might be hard to say or I don’t want to forget. Sometimes I tell her things that are trivial. I just write. Someday I will give her these books, they are for her.

Much to our delight and surprise, when my daughter was two and a half, we found out we were pregnant with a little boy. I wrote about it in his sister’s journal. I felt sad I wasn’t making one for him. I gave it a lot of thought and knew what I am honestly capable of and two emotionally raw and real journals is NOT practical. I decided to write him a letter on the day he was born, March 17. Then I made a deal with myself that I will write him a letter on the 17th of every month until I can’t. He has 30 letters tucked in a box so far waiting patiently for his reading pleasure. They are not all long and some are written on cards or even postcards. They are my monthly check ins with him, with me, with us. It fills me with joy simply thinking of it.

The third part of this ritual came from my request but is not carried out by me. Right before my daughter was born, I was filled with the hormonal charged nesting and sentimental swirl that many mamas experience. I began to become nostalgic for my own grandmothers who both died many years before this. I had questions and requests for stories that could not be satiated. I came up with something I longed for, something I can’t have for myself, but wanted so dearly for my kids. I asked my parents and my husband’s parents if they would be interested in writing a letter to their new grandchild. I let them know it wasn’t mandatory but would be greatly appreciated. I asked them to consider for my daughter’s birthday every year they are alive to include a letter, a year in review from their perspective. I let them know I am not going to read these letters but shall have them kept for my kids. They will have a letter for every year they share this Earth with their grandparents. To my surprise, they now also do it for my son. My mom has included recipes and pictures I think. The letters come with their birthday presents specially marked and someday they will be able to reconnect regardless of distance or existence as I say. I was really touched when my husband decided that he would write a yearly letter to the kids on their birthdays as well. He gets pictures printed and includes them with his “Year in Review”. They must be the luckiest kids I know. Just imagine having letters marking your journey along with your grandmother’s journey from her perspective.

That’s all it is. A writing commitment of love. Now, I have heard many a mom rant that they don’t have time to scrapbook or lament how  they kept baby books for the first few months until chaos of life took over. Trust me, I am not super-pintrest-coupon-hacking mom. I made a commitment that was honest with what I could do and it has become so rewarding and magical. Think about it, can you take 10 minutes to write a card one time a month? Or perhaps spending a little longer on a letter but once a year is more suited to your lifestyle. We are caught up in the memes, tweets, and insta-gratification of our digital lives. How nice would it be to cosy up and read a letter to you from someone you love that you have missed for oh so long?

So that is my great idea. Take what you want, change it, make it fit you, and give a bit of yourself.

Advertisements

June Poems: #2

I watch her sleep

envisioning the stretches

the changes

that will happen

over time.

How will she look

in ten years time?

If I am too busy

it will feel like it all happened

in a blink.

For now, I soak up

that angel skin

and soothing snore.

Take a deep breath

and pray for more.

Money talks

opposite of spoiled

I just walked away from another conversation about money, kids and savings. So let me take this opportunity to talk about a book I am reading and recommending.  It seems like recently I am going about my day and all of a sudden I find myself talking or thinking about this book.  I have been reading through it in pieces but I am now recommitting to giving a page to page read and review. In case you can get a copy before I finish…it is facilitating amazing conversations about money in my every day life. Get it. Read it. Let’s talk.

Shadow shift


My daughter finds comfort in her Shadow. She runs with it, jumps, with it, chases and follows it into happiness or the unknown. She speaks about her Shadow as if it is real and slightly separate from her. She is 4 years old.

J wasn’t always enamored with her Shadow. When she first began to walk and explore her world, she noticed her Shadow and it confused her. When she saw shadows in books, movies or her room, she was skeptical, cautious, and inquisitive. However, she was not connected to them, they were completely different entities.

Now, her Shadow is part of her and her friend. “My Shadow”. Its like Peter Pan I guess, or like a not-so-invisible friend. It is fun and sweet. Sometimes I will overhear her talking with Shadow. This uninhibited love and ability to connect to her universe is a beautiful skill I wish as adults we held onto longer. What age or situation is it when doing something like having fun with your Shadow is considered crazy? I hope for her sake it is no time soon.

Shadow

After Kindergarten Screening

I am having my lunch and reflecting on Tuesday’s exciting and emotional event. Kindergarten Screening…I was calling it Orientation but I found out yesterday that I get to go to another visit/orientation in August. This was a chance for some of the teachers and psychologists at the school to meet & greet the families. They also separate the kids from the parents to check on some skills before placing them in classes.

This did not go as well as I hoped.

I am staying positive and open to learning more about my child and our journey together. She is magical. When she was born 4.5 years ago, I knew I was on a journey of empowerment, discovery and humble love. J has always pushed y understanding of self and a women’s role in this world. Because I want to provide a healthy happy life for her, it is causing me to examine the way we treat women, girls and children.

This is all material for some other blog posts, but what I can say now is that her time at Kindergarten Screening was emotional, enlightening and a little difficult. When we arrived we were instructed to wait in the vestibule with other families. We did not have to wait long and the staff at her new school are very kind. However, immediately after being escorted into a busy hallway, we were told we were being split apart from our kiddos. They would go one way, parents another. Juliana was trepidatious about this and didn’t want to go. Understandable so as it was her first time in the building with a lot of people she doesn’t know. I had to accompany her at the start. She was shy and nervous. They jumped right in to reading a story. A story she knows by heart but she clamped down and would not respond. She is reluctant to share herself with strangers…again I do NOT see this as a detriment. However, since my little girl came into this universe, other people have made us feel that this is not normal or not ok. (Again, I will write about this again another time) We worked through a couple of sad, teary and tough moments. I was able to pull myself away and go find the other parents.

Her school is lovely. I was sure to watch the interactions between the teachers and Principal. I wanted to see if I could sense any clues as to how things really are when families are not watching. We had a great visit from the PTA rep and we were encouraged to make little cards that will be given to our children on their first day of school. It was fun. I had this little voice or tug inside that kept me connected to her. I was sending out my energy throughout that building letting her know she is loved.

They conducted some “testing” with her. I did not get to see what they did or how she responded. Chances are, if the teacher did not take time to let her get warmed up or comfortable, she may have done nothing. It is a little sad to think J will look as if she can’t do certain skills that are actually easy for her. When I was still in that room with her she was refusing to write her name. Meanwhile, she can spell and write her first, middle, and last name.

Oh well, we have to let go, right? My husband and I are realising that she will come across to others a certain way in the beginning. But on her terms, in her time, she will let the world bask in her light. She will shine.

 

Before Kindergarten Screening

It’s a big day in our house. I am taking a half day at work on Tuesday for Kindergarten orientation. I am probably more nervous than my daughter. I am actually surprised at her excitement. I would have thought she would be terrified. She is a cautious and shy child. She can transition well from place to place, activity to activity. However, transitioning from person to person is where she struggles. She is not immediately trusting of people, which can work to our advantage in life. J is very bright and loves to learn. I am hoping that this next phase of our lives is met with enthusiasm and joy. She has such a thirst for knowledge. I know that the drone of routine can be beneficial but also stifling. I want my daughter to love school. Not just because it will make life easier for me, but because I think one of the greatest qualities a person could posses is a love of learning. I know that learning doesn’t only happen at school – but if she hates school, it may turn her off to learning in general.

Jigsaw Shakespeare

 Before we were released for Spring Break, I felt it was important to check in with my students and our passage from Midsummer. Now, it is not in our curriculum, unit plans, and it is not necessarily linked to anything we have been working on. It is simply something I love that I am sharing with my students.

I spent some time writing out the lines of “I know a bank…” on colored strips of paper. I had them with me in class and a couple of my students were intrigued. I put all of the strips in front of this group of five students. I did not arrange the strips correctly but had them scattered, out of order. I gave them the challenge of putting it all together. I was immediately surprised and delighted by their fervor. They put together as much as possible and then questioned me, “we don’t know what comes next, we didn’t learn all of this.”

I had given them a couple of lines we hadn’t done yet. They were perplexed. I told them to figure it out. Look at what they were given and break down the ideas, the code. I told them to look for things they know. I was shocked that they started discussing meaning of words, rhyme scheme, and flow. It was incredible. They did it! They put it together without me ‘telling ‘ them. Then the most amazing thing happened, one of the students went to another group of four kids and challenged them to put it together. I was exhilarated and proud. They were not only engaged in shakespeare’s words, but they were utilizing higher order cognition and having fun. This five to ten minutes was some of the best educational experience they would get for the day. Thank you Shakespeare.

(If you haven’t followed previous entries, I am using Ken Ludwig’s “Teaching your Children Shakespeare” book in my practice at home and in the classroom.)