Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Our Time in the Sun

Retirement has its ups and downs (I know you wouldn't think so, but there are times when I wonder if retiring at age 60 was the right thing.) but now I am experiencing one of the 'up' sides. Getting away from the wet grey Seattle weather in January is a treat. Chris and I are visiting ruins and walking on tropical beaches in the Yucatan of Mexico. It was a good omen to have our connecting flight in Minneapolis upgraded to first. We had seats in the first row with the bulk head space for stretching our legs. There were free drinks, free omelettes for breakfast and warm washcloths for freshening up,and we were the first ones off the plane. We are renting an upstairs apartment on Calle 20 in Playa del Carmen for the week. Clean, with a full kitchen, small deck, cable t.v. and fast Internet; we are mostly pleased with this place. The constant construction noise and the nighttime clubbing din are not so nice but I think we can endure. We ate dinner at a nice restaurant and Chris bought his first margarita and steak fajitas. I had a Mayan dish called chicken pibil. The chicken was in a red sauce flavored with oranges and was very tasty! I went to bed at 5:30 and we slept 14 hours!!! That is what a red eye flight does to us old folks. This morning I took my run all the way to the end of 5th ave. which is the main street here and us lined with shops and fine dining. I took a street parallel to it on my way back and saw a little of where the locals live and eat. Lots of dogs just sleeping in the street, saving energy; they barely open their eyes as you pass by, much less bark or run after you. I went down to the beach and I had a very pleasant an informative conversation with an Argentinian woman who has lived here since 2000. I think she wanted mostly to practice her English as much as she wanted to give me tourist tips. She works for a high end hotel and today is her day off. Time for lunch! More writing later unless of course I want a siesta. 
 of Playa Del Carmen

I didn't take a siesta but I sure got lazy about writing. My excuse is that writing on a kindle fire is taxing on both my eyes and my typing skills. Here it is a month back in Seattle and finally I am updating this blog post. I took lots of pictures! You can see my pictures here:     

 and of Tulum

and Cozumel

and Progresso
 and Merida

and Cristalino Cenote

and the  Dzibilchalt├║n ruins.

Each and every place had its own beauty and we delighted in the variety of sights, sounds, and of course the tastes of Mexican food and drink! We are already planning a return trip next year, for a longer stay.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Done Deal

Whatever happened to my intentions of blogging about my last year of teaching? Living my 'teacher life' in the moment and loving nearly every minute, that's what happened. So here it is July and I have said good bye to my last batch of kindergartners and I am somewhat apprehensive about  how that will feel come September. I am doing a tiny bit of tutoring this summer but I  am more out  the door than in. The school I taught in has a passage ritual for outgoing 5th graders, the 5th grade teachers, and any retiring teachers. We are assigned to write our memories of our time in the school. Then in June the 5th graders, 2 per day, read their memories over the loud speaker  to the entire school, as part of the morning announcements. Then on the very last two or three days of school the teachers take turns reading their memories. I had my students come up to the microphone with me and sing the song that is at the beginning of my speech. 

“If you want to be a friend be a friend, be a friend. If you want to see a smile, be a smile if you want to have fun, with each and everyone, be a friend , be a friend, be a friend.” For 21 years I have been starting Septembers teaching  songs like that one  to Kindergartners at Sanislo. 21 years at Sanislo, but once I add on the 10 years in other schools I have been teaching 31 years, all but one of those years in kindergarten. Yes, I never got enough of goldfish crackers for snacks, inspecting loose teeth and tying shoes.  21 years in one school, that number amazes even me. Sanislo by the numbers for me looks like this: 6 different principals, 3 different teaching partners, 19 years teaching with Mrs. Parker,  about 572 students,  3696 times walking down and then back up the hill from recess (and probably telling you to “WALK!” not run, at least that many times), 21 Field Days, and 63 Field trips, 50 or more visits to Sanislo family homes where I was always welcomed. Every year my greatest joy has been seeing the light in children’s eyes when reading starts to click and they hold books in their laps or on their desks and they read, read, read, with more persistence and focus than I ever imagined them having in September. I especially liked watching kindergarteners partner read with a friend as they built each other up, becoming stronger and stronger readers.  My favorite field trip has always been to the Center for Wooden Boats. The paddle in the umiaq is challenging and fun and no one has ever fallen in the water. This year we saw turtles resting on a log in the sun and the model boats you made were SO cool! In the classroom, I love teaching the Science Units and especially like having the 5th grade buddies visit the kindergarten to help with weaving and sewing. I sometimes saw 5th graders wearing the fleece hat they sewed in kindergarten and that made me smile.  Fifth graders, you were the last class that got an August visit to your house from me, before the start of the school year. I remember the boy who served me cookies and tea, the girl who sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, the girl who hula hooped impressively and more than one child who showed me an action figure or Barbie doll, and a few of you who drew pictures to hang next to my desk. Fifth grade buddies I was so grateful for your daily escort of the kindergarteners up our LONG Sanislo path from the playground. Your faces at the classroom door sometimes showed frustration or impatience with your 5 year old charge but mostly I saw smiles and heard kind and happy words exchanged between you and your partner. The buddy system builds friendship and responsibility. I thank the 5th grade teachers for teaching you the importance of giving service to your school community. Thank you to all my fellow teachers for the  camaraderie over the years. You commiserated and rejoiced with me along the path of this rewarding, and ever changing career that we share. Your support made all the difference. And in response to the little boy who asked me, as many before him have also asked, “You live at Sanislo, Right Mrs. Goethe?” No I do not live here, but Sanislo, you will always live in my heart.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Week One is Done!

We are off to a good start. Yes, I can still say that in spite of three criers on the first day of school, two bathroom accidents (Drat those darn tights on the legs of chubby five year olds!) and temperatures that hit into the upper 80s, it was a good first full week of school. The quote of the week: "Do we have to bring our credit card?"  asked one bright eyed student when told we were going to the library. 

Sunday, September 08, 2013

178 days to go!

Last Monday, after much more discussion than I thought was needed, the tentative agreement became the contract. The picture is of the 1200 or so of us who took the time to vote at Benaroya Hall. the meeting went from 5:00 to about 8:00 after a work day in the classroom. What is in it for me? A 2% pay raise, 3 days without students to hold family conferences before they start school (only for kindergarten) and our work day stays at 7 hours till next year. Hah! Whoever works in their classroom only 7 hours a day is not up to the standards I set anyway. 22 of my 24 students and their families showed up for those conferences this past week. They are really a diverse group. There are so many many more mixed cultures at our school in recent years. Exotic combinations like Indonesian-Pakistani married to Philipino-Laotian. The languages other than English that are of highest incidence spoken in the homes of my students are Cambodian, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Only one Spanish speaker so far. It's always changing!

Tomorrow the 'rubber meets the asphalt'. Kindergarten begins their full day schedule. There will be a lot of sleepy kids by the afternoon especially if it gets up into the 80s again as is in the forecast. Thirty one years of this and I am still nervous. There are so many new twists in our school and in my classroom this year. I'll have as many butterflies in my stomach as my 24 students do! This time next year, the first day of school will be just another lovely late summer day!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Tentative Agreement

Negotiations were looking pretty dismal when I took these photos of colleagues as we picketed in a freak rainstorm on Thursday afternoon.  Really! I was soaked even though I held an umbrella. our tenacity had to be admired judging by the many honks from the traffic passing by. 

Today I received an email from the union with a tentative agreement. Yippee! It really isn't so much about money as it is about teachers' evaluation process and having a say in how we spend our extra hours at school. I sure wish we could get more PE or Art for the students but that is not happening this year.  I spent no small amount of time on the computer this Labor Day weekend, looking at information on the Common Core Standards and how to have little ones be able to state what they are learning. I purchased this from the Teachers Notebook site. Now if only this district had a print shop or an color printer in the school. Instead I am faced with printing 111 pages on our home computer ):

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Last Hurrah!

After a year and a half away from blogging I have returned, to record my last year of teaching. This is it, the last "Hurrah!" If change is good for one's brain, mine is getting a great workout. I have a new teaching partner, a new principal in our building, a new state mandated assessment for kindergarten called WAKIDS and of course the Common Core Standards are still fairly new in Washington. If negotiations improve we will start school on time with a new contract too. My classroom is the same one I have taught in for 19 years except the seating arrangement is different and I moved around bookshelves and the calendar so everything is on opposite sides of the room. We had a Jump Start program last week to introduce our kindergarten students to school. They came for half days and we had extra help to give the fall Kindergarten Inventory. So I already know quite a bit about the 2/3 of the class that participated. I don't want to be overly optimistic but I must say that the class chemistry was positive overall.  So, ready or not kindergartners, let's begin!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

Time really HAS gotten away from me! I thought I had posted in November. So here it is the new year.

November brought the mums in our yard into full bloom just as I had predicted. The spider Mums are my favorite. Here you see a yellow spider and an orange spoon mum.

And a new car into our garage:

For the first time in six years, Anna Rae sat down to Thanksgiving dinner with us. Our very good friends, the Kornowskes, hosted. It was, as always, incredibly delicious.

 December was a whirlwind, beginning with a trip to Green Bay for my mom's 80th birthday and then "Woohoo!" tailgating at Julie and Terrys'  and a Packer game and YES, they won!

December also brought a visit from out of state friends; Tania and her beau, Owen, from Montana.

 Then before I knew it, Christmas was here! There was baking to do;  Anise Almond Biscotti and Coconut Cranberry  Chews and Butterscotch Cookies and Peppermint Pinwheels.

And relaxing with technology. (Yes, Miracle on 54th St. is on the TV)

Anna Rae was showered with gifts. (Poor Americorp girl; she was grateful for  the Christmas bounty.)

Of course Christmas meant feasting. We were a table of nine this year. the menu was gumbo, baked lobster tails, scrumptious salads and satsuma cheesecake for dessert and cookies too!

 Preceded by dominoes and followed by football! 

More feasting on December 30th with the Zarker / Primomo family. This time it was Thai food.

December meant the end to our 1950's avacado green sink in the bathroom. Here is the new vanity and sink. The counter top color is called Coffee Bean.

 When it comes to plumbing one thing leads to another.  So, a week later,  on New Year's Eve day Chris was installing new fixtures in the kitchen.

There are small beginnings for 2012, like the new leaves on my orchid:

And much bigger beginnings like the construction of the new house to the east of our lower lot line.

This is the end to the woodsy solitude that we had when we moved here  in 1987 but who knows, it may be the beginning of a friendship with new neighbors.

As for another ending and a  beginning; I am going to discontinue posting on this blog at least for a year. I will be adding to my Flickr account regularly. In fact I am starting a set called It's a Colorful Life and I will be taking a picture a day and sometimes adding comments to the pictures. Each month will feature one color.  So don't be blue, visit me here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cta/sets/72157628675095039/