Beanie’s Day

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Beanie here! It’s that time of year. You know…that lady who feeds me gets home from her disappearing place for a few days and wham, I suddenly have to go the doctor place.

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Let me just say something…you know how sometimes you have a bad day or maybe even a bad year? Well, I’m a proud enough hound to admit times have been a little bumpy lately.

Used to, I would ride horses with my guy who I lub, luv, love. It was so fun, my very favorite thing to do in the whole wide world. My short legs racing through the woods. Smelling those squirrels. Following my guy up big humongous mountains (well…they were like mountains to me).

I can’t do that anymore, and let me just say, I cry every time I hear my guys jangly spurs and he has to leave me at home. See…when I was a wild pup I ran right out in the road and got smacked by a car. This gentle giant put me back together, and for years I was alright. I was great! Now my hip hurts all the time, and I can’t keep up.

But mom says my hip wouldn’t hurt so bad if I wasn’t so….

Oh, I can’t say it! It’s so humiliating and degrading.

She says I’m fat! Can you believe it?

Okay…deep breaths. Okay….

(Truthfully, she’s right. I can sort of admit it.)

So today we went to the doctor, and they poked me and cut on my toes and gave me shots. And they put me on the scale. Sigh…

The vet lady said I’ve gained nine pounds since last year and that I weigh 49 pounds! I demand a recount.

Anyway, my mom and the other lady put me on a diet. That’s what she said…d-I-e-t. And no table food and no treats! This all sounds like animal cruelty to me.

(I’m sad and I’m really good at pouting, just so you know. I can fall to the ground and become 49 pounds of dead weight in the blink of an eye.)

In my heart, I’m still awesome – you know, 49 pounds of rollin’ thunder! In real life, I’m 49 pounds of chocolate pudding. But just watch and see, this pudding will be rolling again soon!

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Conversations

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We’re working on a Caldecott Medal unit, discussing the prestige of winning this award for illustrations, and I say, “The first Caldecott Medal was awarded in 1938.”

“Mrs. Rackley, were you born then?” a little one asks sincerely.

“Ugh…no baby…” (But today y’all are making me feel that way.)

*

Kindergarten boy, age 5, walks over to a table covered in books, ready to pick one for himself. “This is book heaven,” he whispers.

Yes, sweetie, it is.

*

I explained I’d bought new colored pencils and for them to be kind and gentle with the new supplies. I went on to say there were new crayons too. Little fella looks at me and says, “Mrs. Rackley, you’ve been shoppin’ springing.”

*

Sweet 5 year-old baby girl is dressed up as a 100 year-old for the 100th day of school, and she looked fantastic by the way – rollers in her hair, powder to make it gray, lots of granny makeup…perfect. Sadly, she comes to me and says, “So-and-so just said I looked hideous.”

“Oh baby, you’re far from hideous,” I say, but in my mind I’m secretly impressed that my Kinders know the word hideous.

*

During lunch room duty, a second grade boy waves me down. “Mrs. Rackley, what does constipated mean? She keeps telling me she’s constipated,” he says pointing at the girl across the table.

“Well, I was all weekend,” she defends, very naively and bluntly.

He looks at me again, and I try, “Uh…it means…uh…that her belly is a little messed up and she’s having trouble going to the bathroom.”

He squints, he looks between us. I’m trying hard to leave it be. He looks at her again, and she pipes up, “It was really bad! It lasted for days!”

Sigh…I just patted his back and walked on.

*

It is never boring. It is never quiet for long. It is always interesting and always, each and every day, enlightening and way too entertaining.

Work Family

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Pulaski Elementary School has been my work home since 1994. For twenty-five years, I’ve driven to the same building, walked the same halls, memorized the steps from the classroom I inhabited for nine years to the teacher’s bathroom, witnessed new additions added to the aging original structure, and watched people come and go. Teachers have retired or moved away, custodians have passed on, people have changed. There are a few of us still rattling around the halls who have been at PES since the early nineties. Even as we refuse to get older, slowly our numbers are dwindling, and we’re being replaced by younger, vibrant teachers.

Bill Holt hired me in 1994. I actually transferred in from another school but he gave the nod and accepted me into what would become my work family. It was my third year of teaching. For the next twenty years, he was my boss, my principal, our leader.

Twenty years encompasses a lot of time. We’re talking about thousands of days working together as a unit, trying our best to school children. There were really great days and some really bad days, but mostly there were lots and lots of normal, average, take for granted days in the middle. I wasn’t perfect every day, the other teachers weren’t perfect every day, Mr. Holt wasn’t perfect every day, but we all worked really hard to take care of the children in our building.

Here’s what I’ll always remember the most about my time with Mr. Holt:

He believed in me, hands down. He respected what I did in the classroom, and he trusted me because he knew I would do what I was supposed to do. Being trusted like that, I am convinced, molded me into a much better teacher and person.

When I wanted to take a leave when my son was three, I remember being terrified to approach him. I was young and scared, but when I told Mr. Holt that I wanted to stay home with my child for a while, he smiled so big and he told me to do it. He told me to cherish the years when they were small because the years with my children would be the best. So, I took off for two years…I was able to be a mommy, a room mother, a field trip helper, an anything Mrs. Musgrove or Mrs. Owens needed person. He was right…best two years of my life.

Then during the absolute darkest time of my life, he was there. On the first day back to school after Christmas break, we were meeting as a staff. I was supposed to be in that meeting, but instead I was crying like a baby in my classroom. I don’t know how he knew, but Mr. Holt peeked his head in my door. He saw my state, sat with me for a bit, talked me down, told me to skip the meeting. I probably scared him to death crying that way, but he didn’t let on. He and Ms. Oaks (and so many other members of our work family) took care of me that semester…I’ll always cherish them for that alone.

Losing someone is hard, even someone who is not blood related. Losing Mr. Holt and other people from PES has been hard. I think it’s a chunk of our identity gone. I think it’s the steady witnessing of the changing of life…and the longer we live, the more we witness for good or bad. It’s another person who shaped your career gone. It’s a member of your work family slipping away. Work family to some is non-existent…but to others, to me and the staff at Pulaski Elementary School, it exists. We are a family…on the good days, the bad days, and the many, many in between days.

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GHWB

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President George Bush passed away last night, and his family said his last words were, “I love you, too.” He spoke those words to his son, the other president. GWB had undoubtedly heard the words before, but what a blessing for those to be the last words he heard from his father.

Reading about the love between President Bush and his wife, Barbara, tugs at my heart. Reading about how their love and kindness blessed their family makes me sigh. What a blessing their lives were to the people around them.

Do you ever get to the end of a day and wonder if you’ve blessed anyone, whether you’ve done one pleasant, decent, kind thing all day long? I do. Some days are better than others…I can remember a hug or a smile. Then there are days like yesterday, and I can’t see past my own exhaustion and fussiness to find anything positive.

After I left work yesterday, I worried if I’d done anything right. Then I thought of this one boy….

Just this week, his mom was arrested again. Last week, he wore no coat at all. I do my best to find him for a minute most days. He asked me yesterday if I would read to him…this big, second grade boy who has seen way too much. So I pulled him behind my desk, he pushed his shoulder against mine, and I read to him. Every single word.

That one little thing made the rest of the day worth it.

Lord…close my mouth, fill my heart, guide my actions.

A Day in the Life

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“Mrs. Rock-ee! Guess what? We learned about G and O today!”

“Fun! Well, what do G and O spell…g…o….”

Eyes lift to the ceiling, his tiny brow crinkles, then he declares, “Octopus!”

Our Kindergarten babies are coming along! Honestly, the first few weeks with them are hard. But hard isn’t the right word. If you’ve heard the saying ‘herding cats’ then that explains it a little better. Luckily, our school is (beyond) blessed with a group of wonderful teachers who love children and who don’t give up when the body whines with exhaustion.

Seeing the people I work with from a different light (a non-classroom teacher looking in), has changed my whole perspective. As a classroom teacher, I was very focused on my space and my students. Now, as a librarian, I encounter every child and teacher in the building. And let me tell you, every class has its own personality and requires a different touch and approach.

Now when I look at my fellow teachers, I see their individual methods, their unique touches. I see their hearts and how they embrace the difficult child needing love just as easily as they push along the happy pleasers. My heart also aches for them on their hard days; the days of trials and change.

I love my work family. I love their dedication and focus. I love their love for children.

Another funny…

A sweet itty bitty accidentally ‘tooted’ during story time. And there was no ignoring it. I shushed the group and casually said that it was no big deal, that everybody does it. Well…it happened again, and there was no way itty bitty was getting by with it two times in a row. A little fellow behind her quickly told her, “You can hold those farts in, you know!”

Y’all…I mean, what would you have done in my place?? Seriously.

I proudly kept a straight face, told the fellow that we don’t say that word at school, and asked itty bitty if she needed to go to the potty.

That is real life in a PreK-2 school!

Fair Week

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Beanie here…   Forgive me, but I kind of like having a voice. We dogs don’t get much of one. And man, I’ve just got to vent for a minute.

So…every once in a while something magical happens real close to our house. You never know when it’s going to come. But then, the air fills with smells and loud squeals and noises echo over here to my yard.

This feeling comes over me, my genes kick in, and I’m full on Beagle. My tail straightens, I sniff the air, and all I can think is they need me over there!

So, logically, I go over to check out what’s happening. I mean, it’s not that far from my house, and used to, when I was young and not so round, I used to walk all over the place. Not so much anymore. Anyway, I wander down the field, under a gate or two, squeeze through a little fence, and ta-da, I’m there!

My people call it “the fair” – whatever that means. But you wouldn’t believe it. People everywhere, and they pet me and give me food. It’s doggie heaven.

But my people don’t like it one bit. All week…many nights and days, people…they’ve kept me locked in the house. Usually, I love being in the house, but this week…that magical place needs me, and they won’t let me go.

Here’s what’s so humiliating…even when I need to go potty, my people follow me. Never do they do that! Only during this fair they keep growling about. But they follow me, always watching me. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t poop in front of anyone! It’s just degrading. Seriously.

So that lady, she coos and grins and tells me I’m a good girl after I go, then she forces me right back in the house.

I’m getting stir crazy, folks.

So today…today, when my guy says the fair people are leaving, I make a run for it. Before they can blink, I’m past the barn and slipping under the gates. For awhile, I’m free. But most of the smells are gone when I get down there, and nobody’s around to scratch my head. All that’s left is a little trash and cars with no people.

Still…I’m outside. I’m on my own like any respectable Beagle needs to be every now and then. I’m free.

Until my guy pulls up. He yells my name, makes me get into the fast thing he drives, and I’m hurried back home. Sigh…

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I made it to the place where yummy smells come from, but I was too late. No people here.

There’s something to be said about the house though…I never sweat when I’m in there, and that lady gives me all the water I want. And seriously, I get the couch all to myself. It’s kind of awesome.

Goodbye fair…maybe next time.

Saturday Mornings

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Is there anything better than a Saturday morning? Or more specifically, a Saturday morning after the first full week of school? Because a Friday night after the first full week of school has me looking like this…complete with the growls and groans and uncanny thirst for blood.

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But Saturday mornings, sigh…they have me looking like this…

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For just a little while, I’m free. The world is wide open, the air is fresh, the flowers bloom!  (Not really….it’s more like the laundry piles, the house smells of dog, and the weeds overtake, but…)

Happy Saturday to the the hardest working people I know. We survived week one, and by God’s grace, I KNOW we’ll keep right on surviving…and flourishing…and stress eating…and moaning…and loving…and growing…and smiling because we get the special kind of love only little kids seem to be able to give.

Reflections

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Reflections on another summer gone by way too fast:

*It’s hard to contemplate going back to work when it’s still summer. Maybe summer break should last as long as summer itself. Someone told me, “Well, it’s too hot for the kids to be at home. They need to be in school.”

Seriously, somebody said that to me. I’m sure the incredulous look on my face let them know my take on that. What happened to swimming, riding bikes, building forts? We did all of those things as children whether it was hot or not.

* I hope I never have to write a research paper ever, ever again. Never, ever again. Two research papers in sixteen days about did me in.

*I’ve figured out that going back to work would be easier if I could take my dogs with me. Beanie would love it! However, Layla would be a nervous wreck, and unfortunately, we’ve recently discovered that Avi is afraid of little kids. Go figure.

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*June was a blur. Days of sitting at the computer writing papers and creating webpages. July…I was a bum. A happy to be at home bum. I warned my family that it would happen. I don’t think they believed me until the evidence (no makeup, very little activity, and no bra for days) proved me right.

*July has been a month for books. I think I have 3 different books going right now. Does anybody else do that? It’s like tuning in to a different T.V. show but the story is taking place on paper.

*Vacationing with my hubby is still fun. When you’ve been married 28 years, you may wonder does he still like me, what will we talk about? I happily found that we both still love spending time together…like by ourselves with no kids or people around. It was awesome.

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My favorite guy, our favorite place.

*Grown kids are just as fun as young kids, maybe more.

*I read a lot of articles and snippets of things. Everyone seems to have an opinion on something, but no matter what is said or discovered about children, these things hold true:

Children are honest and needy,

they need boundaries every single day,

they love without measure,

they need to get off the electronics and play,

and they need discipline when it’s warranted.

Most of all, they just want you to love them back.

*Summer vacation is way too short…did I mention that already?

I am not a Crook! (The Beanie Chronicles)

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Beanie here…I’m borrowing that lady’s blog page one more time.

We have an emergency. Or I have an emergency. Avi and the Princess sure don’t seem concerned.

I’ve been accused…and you know, it’s hard to stand up for yourself when your belly looks like mine. I’ve been accused of knocking off that lady’s chickens.

Those of you who know me, can you believe it? Can you believe I’m being accused of killing five chickens?! Me!

So, here’s what happened:

That lady (everybody calls her momma so I guess I can, too) has had those chickens forever, like forever. She feeds them every day, talks to them, gets their eggs. Me and the Princess always go with her to visit those squawky birds. They’re smelly but sometimes I get lucky and mom accidentally drops an egg. When that happens, I’m all over those eggs. Yum.

Anyway, last week, something started knocking off those squawkers one by one. Mom wasn’t happy to say the least. So that man who loves me got her six new chickens and a big ole fancy rooster. The new squawkers really seemed to like it here, but sure enough…two days in, two chickens disappeared. Like vanished.

Mom and my guy were in the pen trying to figure out what to do, so you know, I just casually slipped under the fence to go hang out with my guy. You would’ve thought I’d grown horns the way they acted. There was screaming and yelling and my name was everywhere. I did the only thing I knew to do…I ran to the other corner (a corner I happen to know has a crawly spot in and out) and ducked down.

My guy drug me out of there.

And now I’m a crook.  Dad says I ate the chickens…all of them. He says that’s why my belly is so fat. Can you believe it??

Insulting.

That brings us to today. Mom and dad put the chickens that were left in a small chicken house so nothing could get to them…I mean it’s tiny but they can move and stuff. We all go to feed this afternoon, and guess what? Another chicken down!

And it wasn’t me! I was in the house all day with mom. And even I know I couldn’t fit my bootie through that little bitty wire.

Mom freaked. The Princess just glared. I can’t wait for dad to get home.

Then he’ll see, then he’ll know. I’m no crook!

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Do I look like a criminal to you?

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I’m mean, come on…

The Beanie Chronicles

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Beanie from the Beanie Chronicles here. You’ll never guess what the lady that feeds me did. Just because my belly sags…and yeah, sometimes I get really out of breath. That lady made me spend the day at the vet.

For nothing.

Yep, I have a big Beagle belly. Yep, I love me some people food. Am I really sick…nope. Not today anyway.

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See that dog over there? That blonde wild thing? Guess what she did? She took off running…full speed ahead like a rocket…and she ran right over the lady who feeds us. Took that lady to the ground. Good thing she only twisted her ankle. Blondie may have had to live at the barn if she’d hurt her bad.

Oh…and one more. Let’s not forget the little princess. The lady that feeds us seems to really like that one. Guess what the little princess does? She won’t let us eat until she’s finished! She’s barely bigger than a squirrel but somehow she became the boss around here. Little Princess better watch out or Blondie might swallow her whole one day!

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For those of you worried about my pot belly, I’m okay for now. The lady that feeds me said no more people food. We’ll see about that. I’m really good friends with the man who loves me!