4 Lines!

Update on my journey teaching shakespeare to my kids. This is exciting. Truly exciting news in my little chaotic existence. As I stated I began reading Ken Ludwig’s book about teaching Shakespeare. Originally when purchased I was reading to teach my students. When I quickly assessed that he used it for his own kids, I thought, hey why not mine?

One day while I was a couple of chapters in, Juliana asked me what book I was reading. I showed it to her and explained what it was about. She was smiley and said, “I want to learn.” Now, I originally thought I would read the whole book first and then give it a go but abandoned that because she was willing, eager and in a good mood. For parents of toddlers – you know take those opportunities when they come! She is 4 years old and spunky as all hell.

I explained that she would repeat after me – she can’t really read yet so this is a bit of a challenge with the sentence strips. I pointed to the words as I said them so maybe we could get some sight recognition practice too.

We started with “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows.” We said it a few times with the book and then I put the book down. but she wanted more. We went back and gobbled up “Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. It became a cute little phrase we danced to, sang to, cooked to and cuddled to throughout the day. She thought it was fun.

Then life happens and things get in the way. Shakespeare took a back seat to doctor’s appointments, work, dinner, diapers, toys, little brothers and everything else. About a week later I was getting ready to text one of my dearest friends in this universe. I was missing her and just needed to say it. She lives in South Carolina and we are in New York. Sunny was getting ready to perform in a production of Midsummer. On a whim I looked up at my daughter and said “I know a bank.”

Can you believe my astonishment that my four year old looked at me and smiled without missing a beat and said with a bucket of pride and sass, “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows. Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows”. I almost cried with joy.

I quickly recorded it for Sunny and sent it to her. What a perfect way to say I love you and celebrate my daughter possibly embracing a shared love and passion of her mom and Auntie. It was magical. We played with the phrase and then left it alone. I was so excited that my daughter had two lines of Shakespeare tucked in her heart, maybe forever. She and I will be bound to Midsummer as long as we breathe. I was in an instant so grateful to Mr. Ludwig for reminding me that love and learning are seeds of happiness.

Thankfully, it doesn’t end there! A few nights ago, my husband and I were sitting on the sofa in the throng of bedtime prep for Juliana and her 1 year old brother, Colin. Their grandmother was on the computer having a quick video chat. Juliana came over to us and said, “Mommy, I want to learn more Shakespeare.”.

swoon.

My mother asked her what she meant. She retrieved Ludwig’s book and opened it. She pointed to what I thought a random phrase and started to recite I know a bank. When I looked down, she was pointing to the words I know a bank!!! WTF. We got off the computer and began “Quite over canopied.” We created some hand gestures and within 15 minutes we were four lines of Shakespeare stamped on hearts.

The following day my mother sent emails of pictures of woodbine, oxlips and the other flowers. Juliana decided we should plant them in our garden. I agreed.

We are now on our way to having our very own Shakespeare’s Garden. Love is growing.

 

 

Shakespeare and my kids 1

I have begun reading the first few chapters of “How to Teach your Children Shakespeare”. It’s easy to already see how to implement this into my life. I’m excited.

The other night, after I read the first two Chapters, I went into Juliana’s room to get ready for Bedtime. We cuddled, read stories and began to get drowsy.

She rolled over to look at me and said, “mummy what were you reading?”

“A book about one of my favorite writers and how I can help you to read and love his work. ”

“Who is it Mummy?”

“Shakespeare”

“Can we meet him? Go see him?”

“In a way, we can see his plays performed. Shakespeare is no longer alive. He died a long time ago. ”

“Mummy, is Shakespeare a dinosaur?”

I chuckled and hugged her. We are on our way because my daughter LOVES dinosaurs. “Yes in a way my dear he is. I love you. We will start reading his stuff together soon.”

This is going to be enlightening!

Two of my loves…

  I am combining two of the things I truly love in this world- my kids and Shakespeare. I picked up this book as part of my “teachers choice”. That’s the stipend we are given to buy supplies and such for our classrooms. Every year teachers every where spend thousands of dollars of their OWN money to provide their students with the resources they so desperately need. NYC tosses some coins into our paycheck for such a purpose. It is usually 40-120$. Honestly it’s a drop in the ocean of money spent by teachers but I’ll take those drops gladly. 

I am hoping to use this book to find new ways of infiltrating Shakespeare into my lesson plans. I usually teach at least one play per semester. I bought it hoping it would be more ways for me to build engaging lessons. I’m not going to lie- I teach great Shakespeare classes with my nyc high schoolers. 

However, as soon as I began this book, I became not just inspired but determined to use it with my own kids. Juliana is 4. Maybe that seems young but we will try. Her brother is 10months-  he will get it through our practice. I am so excited. I will post updates as to how it goes. Stay tuned!!!

Please feel free to comment or suggest. 

My rainbow

  

It has been an exhausting day. I am running on very little sleep and suffering from back pain. My infant won’t nap and both kids want my constant undivided attention. They are so beautiful and wonderful yes. However in my sleep deprived over worked exhaustion, I am finding it difficult to stay positive. 

Several times today I had to close my eyes and meditate. My daughter would then say “Mama are you ‘breathing'”? We have clearly been in this place before. This place of Mama about to lose her mind, go off the rails but attempts to model meditation. It is not always successful. In fact I feel like lately I have been more irritable, short tempered and fatigued than ever well except for when I was in first trimester with Colin. That was tough. 

Juliana is trying so hard to Be a good listener and helper today. Yet in this quest she has also not stopped talking. Not for one second. I’m in sensory overload.

I was determined to get Colin down for  his morning nap and we were already at noon and I had no success. I was rocking him, singing, everything. Finally, Juliana stopped talking. She came over to me at the buggy as I was wheeling him back and forth hoping it would work. She put her hand on me and said ” mommy, I believe in you…and Santa.” 

I lifted my head to the heavens, closed my eyes and cried. She wrapped herself around my leg and squeezed. This little person has the ability to send me to places of rage, frustration, and fear. She also has this prophetic ability to say things that rock my shell of doubt and negative thoughts, make me vulnerable and joyous for her wisdom. Love. 

I’m in the car. She and her brother are sleeping. We got that morning nap in for him. Then later went out to the store. Colin didn’t fall asleep until moments before getting home. When I got into the driveway, Juliana said “Colin is asleep. Mama please drive some more so I Can nap too.” 

Wow! Didn’t think I could get that lucky and then I started driving. Less than 2 min away the heavens opened and it poured. I would have been attempting to get a toddler, bags and an infant down 80+ steps in torrential rains. We drove slow and she drifted off. I did a big loop of country roads for only 15 min when the rain stopped and the sun burst through. I saw this rainbow and took a picture for Juliana. I want her to see the magic when she wakes. I sit now and soak in the magic of my sleeping children. They teach me when I let them. 

Madness at the Library!

This is a ridiculous story. Seriously, I can hardly believe this happened to me.

Yesterday it was quite cold out and our three year old was wanting to play. We had had a tough morning of battling the three-nager power struggles. I decided to take her to our local Library. This is something we have been wanting to do and haven’t since the birth of my son five weeks ago. My daughter loves book – she really LOVES books. She loves going to the library and bookstores. We haven’t been to our local because it was under renovations for a long time. This was an exciting adventure.

When we arrived, the library was not busy. There was only three people using the main library and another mother with her daughter in the children’s library. My little one and I went to a table and immediately set up shop. We got lots of books and started to read. She invited “grumpy” over to join in – a large stuffed version of the character from Snow White. eventually J went over to the table with wooden toys to play with the other little girl. Making friends at three years old can be exciting and terrifying – hell it can be like that at any age. Soon the girls were laughing, playing, and then began a round of “chase” using the wooden dinosaur and giraffe supplied by the library.

I began a chat with the other Mom and I too was excited at the prospect of another friend. Her daughter is the same age. We both have babies as well, mine 5.5 weeks, hers 6 months. We asked the girls to practice their quiet voices a couple of times when they squealed in delight. We encouraged them to take some books and read together. They did this. They took some books over to a corner and sat and pretended to read. It was so cute.

However, there was a staff member at the library who began a tyraid that I will never forget. This woman came out of an office and stormed over to myself and the other mom. SHe scolded us saying the girls were too loud and the screaming would have to stop. Now by this time another little boy and an adult had arrived. The little boy was chasing the girls as well and yes there was some screeching. All in fun. They were pretending to be the dinosaurs and animals in their books. We asked our girls to be quiet. (mind you nothing was said to the young boy or his father/grandfather)

The staff member came out later when the girls were quietly reading and approached my self and  my new mom friend M. This staff member thrust a puzzle piece at me and said nothing. I was confused. She shook it at me, I took it from her and she gruffly told me it was for the table. M reassured the woman that were planning on doing a clean up with the girls when we were ready to leave. Staff member acknowledges this by thrusting another piece of puzzle at me. Then she says “Oh and they left books on the floor.”

I am confused. Aren’t we supposed to be excited that children love books and not just TV? If you are employed by a library system you know how desperate we are to get children engaged in our public library systems. Also, if children are reading a book don’t freak that it is out of place. I turned to my new friend and said, “this is why people go to Barnes and Noble. You can read anything, stay as long as you like, play with the toys, move books around and you’re not even forced to buy. Why go to a library?”

We had a chat about how our town offers very few programs for kids. We both agreed that neighboring towns offer so much more in camps, activities and programs. It is sad tat our library was closed for a long time to renovate and you can’t see any difference.

Soon the staff member came out again and approached us. She yelled. Yes, she actually began to raiser her voice. She said that our children forced everyone to leave the library. No one wanted to be there because of them. SHe was full on leaning in, pointing and yelling. Out of the fecking blue. M politely told the woman that there was no need to yell. This apparently upset the staff person more. She stomped around slamming books. She went after my child. J was in their little corner where they had been reading. she was waiting for her friend and the staff person start to approach her. She was menacing and told my daughter to go that mommy needs her.” I harshly told the woman to stop and went to collect my girl. I was only 10 feet away. I explained that the lady was upset and we should leave before Mommy gets upset too. While I did this the staff person went verbally after M. She yelled at her that she couldn’t do her job and put books away because we were blocking her path where we were standing(apparently excuse  me is not in her vernacular). She screamed at M that she couldn’t get her work done in her office because our children were so loud. I said these girls are only three and she should check herself as it was getting very scary and hostile. She yelled that we should complain to her supervisor. M asked her her name and the woman screams “Majorie” then slams her office door.

We collected the girls and tried to nonchalantly exit. I was flustered because I had told my daughter that we would take books and a movie out. I also needed a new card. I was so riled up and afraid I would escalate things further. M said she had to return some things while I left. Thankfully I had thought to give her my name and info so we could meet again. I was so upset. As we were leaving my daught said” that woman has a bad attitude.” Yes, J, yes she does.

We arrived home and I tried to tell my husband what happened. I was repeatedly interrupted by my daughter who told Daddy that a woman yelled at mommy and was scary and mean. J was upset that she can’t go back to the Library but I reassured her that we will go back. I immediately go on the phone with my Town Supervisor. I felt horrible that I left my new friend there. I just new my limits and I knew I would get “ugly” if I stayed.

Later that evening I received an email from M. Her accounts of what happened after I left the library are here:

It was nice to meet you and J today at the library.
That librarian, Marjorie, was truly off her rocker! After you left, I went in to return books and she came in yelling about us to the other librarians. I asked her if she was so concerned about the noise, why was she being ten times louder than the three year olds.  She went into the back office and said she was filing an incident report about us.  The other librarian asked me if I wanted to fill one out too so I did. While I was standing at the desk filling out the form, she kept shouting and screaming in the back office, slamming things down, and actually started hysterically crying!  I heard her say “I’m going to beat the shit out of her!” about me all while I was just standing there filling out the report.  I asked the other two librarians if they heard that and they both acted like they hadn’t because I could tell they are afraid of her.  Neither of them would make eye contact with her and one of them suggested that she go home so she could calm down and she said that was exactly what she planned to do because she couldn’t take this anymore and that the “library wouldn’t exist without her” and that she “barely gets paid anything”. She then stormed out of the library crying. The other two librarians both suggested that we report the incident to the Director, K M.  I filled out the report which will be given to her and here is her email address in case you are interested in reporting Marjorie as well. I wrote on the report that I was shocked that the library employs someone who is so clearly mentally unstable, especially to be working around children.

Ridiculous right?! I have emailed the appropriate person. I have left a message with my Town Supervisor. I am going back to the Library. And be ready folks, I will record any and all encounters with this Majorie if needed. This happened…At the LIBRARY.

Eye of a Storm

Over the past few months, we have been bombarded with the rage and reason of our little girl. She just turned three. She is attempting to be Master of Universe before she is fully potty trained. She is on her way!

As I re-read and then posted my last entry about a day when she was on a rein of terror, I have reflected on my emotions and how I express them. I have reflected on my husband’s expression of his. This little girl has made me realise that while we are helping her to deal with her emotions and find healthy and safe ways of expressing them – we too must do a little work on ourselves. We are her constant models of coping and striving. I know I could use some attention to detail in the area of anger management or self esteem.

Today I am thinking about how I deal with being angry, hurt, frustrated and embarrassed. All the things that set her off – how do they manifest in me. This is an evening or weekend of simply noticing and paying attention to what I do – or not do.

From that I might be able to make some healthy changes to my own lifestyle.

Thanks kiddo.

feeling kind of seasick

**This was drafted Nov. 2 during a temper tantrum. I didn’t post then, but shall do so now.

As a mom and an educator, I have been diligent to read and discuss the temperaments of children especially during crucial times in their development. No matter how much I read or talk about with other people I am ill equipped to handle and process the mood swings and extremes of my toddler’s temper tantrums. I am powerless. I am weak. I am shattered. I am a puddle begging for mercy.

Her first real “scream at me for no apparent reason for two hours” tantrum came the first week of September 2013. I know this because I took a photograph and a short video. Not because I intend to tease her with it later in life, but because I was so taken aback by her behavior and didn’t know what was happening. I was alone – my husband was working and it seemed to materialize out of nowhere. It was irrational and upsetting. Yet, it was done in two hours completely and didn’t visit us again for many months. The first tantrum was about an ice Lollie, or the color of one I should say. It was mental…so I thought then.

Months later we saw the next surge of difficult behavior. My daughter is very strong willed and stubborn. I want so much to love and embrace this but it can be difficult because she has officially decided to have her own view on the world that many times clashes with our schedule. I accept her as her own spirit, her own person. I try my best not to be unrealistic in what I ask of her while she navigates this journey. But I might be going crazy in the process.

This summer we had a lot of travel plans. In hindsight, not a good idea. However, the predictable thing about toddler’s rage is it is unpredictable. We had no idea she would hit the “terrible twos/threes” while on summer vacation. She had brief moments of power struggles and time outs. But this summer she began to unleash the beast.

I am currently sitting on the sofa trying to hold it together. My daughter is in the other room throwing a fit of epic proportion. I am alone. My husband is working and I am exhausted. She is dismantling the last stronghold of sanity I have. I am in tears and broken hearted. It is excrusiating for a mother to watch their child loose their temper, be in pain, struggle with their emotions. Today if my daughter is not trying to fling herself out of her crib, she is trying to climb back in. During all of this, she yells like a banshee. Normally when she is upset, she needs me and only me. However, with this recent wave of outburts, no one can comfort her. We have to surf the tidal wave of toddler terror.

We have seen her pull her hair out, throw toys, books – anything she can grab. We have witnessed her scream, drool and spit like a scene from the exorcist. She hits, kicks and bites. It is madness. On more than one occasion I find myself terrorfied that she is mentally ill. There is NO way that this can be age appropriate or normal. Yet I try to get direction and solace from blogs and medical journals that all say – yup, welcome to the club. We are parents of Toddlers and there is no sanity till maybe the age of 4 or 5. Seriously?! Can I make it? We have another child growing inside of me and I am overcome with fear of the alliance that will be made against me and their father.

 

Unexpected News pt 1

I am a ball of mixed emotions. We are pregnant again. We are not jumping up and down excited. Our first daughter is two and will be three in four months. We never went on the pill in between pregnancies. We were always dancing on the edge of if it happens – great, if it doesn’t – great. After a little over a year after our daughter was born I found out I had several polyps, cysts, and fibroids. We were given the impression having another child would be difficult. Almost another year went by and we were confirmed that tumors grew, hormones were wacky and now I have a fibroid in my uterus. We were recommended to surgery if we wanted to get pregnant.

We decided to be complete with our daughter. The three of us. I spent many months focusing on our future as a family of three. I began this uber committed mindset to do things for myself and provide an incredible life for my little girl. I started to get really excited to take better care of myself and have a little more focus on me.

While visiting family for the fourth of July, I took a pregnancy test and it was positive. I was in shock. We were no longer thinking about another baby. I had been telling myself about all the reasons why it was better to have one child. We chose not to try not to think about it until I could get confirmation from our doctor. They had given us every reason to believe that if we got pregnant, we would have a miscarriage.    We went to the doctor six days ago. Our midwife cried with joy to see the heartbeat. She said there was very little chance we would have any problems. She seems to think this is meant to be and everything is fine.

I think we are in shock. Are we happy? I feel like we have been getting conflicting ideas, reports, opinions on my health and fertility for over a year. Now I think we are worried that this won’t be as well, easy as the first pregnancy. I think my husband is worried that I will miscarry. I am more worried that something will be wrong with the baby.

We haven’t told anyone but a very close friend. I guess the minute we tell family it becomes real and we will have to be just as open with anything that happens. I hope people in our family are excited. For some reason I am thinking that this is not going to be as joyous a surprise.  Is that crazy? We will find out very soon.