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At Parent Info Night this year one of my new parents was not quite aware of how much learning Kindergarteners do in 2011.  I wrote about the encounter in my post Inspiration (which I just accidentily reblogged but didn’t understand how to add what I wanted to add) .

Well today was Kindergarten Awards & Graduation.  The same parent came up to me after the award ceremony and handed me a beautiful flower lei to wear during Graduation.  I asked him if his mom made it, but no, it had been shipped directly from Hawaii.  The little girl had one on too.  After the graduation ceremony the dad came up to me again and said, “At the beginning of the year I didn’t understand what Kindergarten is and I think I offended you.  When I saw my daughter’s writing from the first day of Kindergarten and the last day, I cried.  Thank you so much for all you do.”

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Retrograde Learning

“It’s just Kindergarten don’t they just play?”

Ummmmmmmm. “NO.”

When I explained what my students learn in preparation for first grade – reading, writing, math, geography, history, science and so much more – I heard, “Oh well I know you went to college and all.”

Ummmmmmmm. “Yes. As a matter of fact I have my Masters in Literacy Instruction.”

And then one more slipped out, “Oh well I know you went to college.”

Ummmmmmmm. Yes. Yes I did. And actually I majored in mathematics. My first career was in actuarial science.”

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I’m pretty used to this by now, but I can’t help but find it insulting. My parents thought I was wasting my private school education by becoming a teacher and leaving the actuarial profession.  And when I’m in social situations, the standard response when I tell people I teach Kindergarten is, “Oh. How cute.”

Yes, my students are…

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I am married to a man who has a largish family.  Both of his parents are still alive and my husband is the youngest of three siblings who are all married and have children. He has numerous cousins on his mother’s side of the family and one cousin on his father’s side of the family . Most are married and have kids. And now almost all of the kids have kids as well. OK, that may not be a large family by Reality TV standards, but it’s pretty big for me.

My husband and his family also have lots of friends.  Friends that they have known for 20-40 years. Friends who are now also married and have children and grandchildren.

Every summer my husband and I take the boys to spend a month at my in-laws’ house on Nantucket. This is a wonderfully
glorious time when the kids have time with grandparents, cousins, and friends who are more like family – and lots and lots of beach time of course. For one week of our stay there is a large convergence of friends and family. During the day we go to the beach – occupying a rather large amount of space that gets larger and larger each year as our children grow and spread their wings. At night we rotate amongst the different houses for dinner or cocktails or both – grandparents, parents, and children all together.

I love that my husband has all these amazing friends. They have become my friends too. And their children have become our childrens’ friends. And his family has accepted me (faults and virtues) with open arms.

I chose a beautiful day for my quiet time at the beach

Anyway, I learned something extremely important this summer during our crazy week. By Wednesday I had a meltdown. I was tired from staying up late and my nerves were frayed with all the socializing we’d done.  Other than sleeping, I hadn’t had a moment to myself in over a week. I needed to be by myself. So my wonderful husband took the boys sailing, I have no idea what everyone else did, and I went to the beach by myself.  Of course I wasn’t truly alone because the beach was packed full of people. But I was there with my book, my iPod and no one I knew.

I went back to the house late that afternoon exhausted from a day filled with walking, beach combing, and swimming. But more importantly I went back to family and friends refreshed in spirit.

A day or two later I came upon a new term while reading someone’s blog  – ambivert.

What is an ambivert you ask? Well, an ambivert is someone who exhibits the tendencies of both an extrovert and an introvert.

Most people who know me think I am extroverted.  I can be outgoing, friendly, welcoming.  I need to talk through decision making scenarios. I don’t often withhold my opinion. And I have been known to put my foot in my mouth on occasion. Friends in college often described me as a Dr. Seuss book, I was so easy to read.

That being said, I am outgoing, friendly, and welcoming in familiar situations. Put me in a group of friends and family and sure I’m outgoing. Find me at school talking to parents and fellow teachers, of course.  And you will even find me that way at church where I don’t necessarily know everyone, but I feel comfortable.  See, that is the key. I am outgoing when I am in a comfortable environment.

I’m terribly awkward in situations where I don’t know people. In college, I was the one in the group who hated off-campus parties or going to bars. I still prefer small gatherings of friends than huge parties. And given the option of staying home with my family or going to a dinner party on a Saturday night – I usually opt for staying home.  It’s not that I’m lazy (OK a little bit lazy). After a week of teaching Kindergarteners, dealing with parents at school, helping my boys with homework, shuttling them to different activities, and just being their mom I need time away from people.

Having time to myself is crucial to my sanity. I recharge alone, not with people. This is a fundamental introverted trait. The more I read about introverts the more qualities I saw in myself. Here are a few from Marti Olsen Laney’s book The Introvert Advantage:

  • working on projects in large chunks of uninterrupted time
  • rehearsing before speaking
  • anxiety around deadlines
  • zoning out if too much is going on
  • taking time to sort out information
  • dislike overstimulating environments
  • strong reactions to sensory input
  • feeling drained after social situations

All of these describe me. Yet, I like to talk too much to truly be an introvert.

So I am an ambivert.

I am an outgoing jellyfish who requires time alone in her shell.

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Where I’m From

When I started this blog last June, I had no idea where it would go or how long it would last.  As I tried to find a wider network of women bloggers I stumbled upon the SITS Girls website. After lurking around the site for a while I registered for the Bloggy Boot Camp in Denver thinking it might be fun and I might learn something.  My ticket served as a great inspiration to keep writing and blogging. If I was going to a blogging conference then I had to be a blogger (well in my mind anyway).

Saturday was a blast! The speakers were well-spoken, funny, and informative.  I’m still processing all that I learned, but mostly I realized how much I have yet to learn about the blogging world. As a newbie, I opted for the writing breakout session rather than the business oriented one. The writing exercise was to create a poem using a template inspired by  Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon. Mama Kat (one of the SITS Girls) led the activity and decided to use the template as one of her writing prompts this week.

So here is my attempt at explaining where I’m from.

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I am from dog-eared books devoured over and over, from Snuggle scented sheets, and flashlights under the covers.

I am from swinging on a tire under canopied trees in a marshy wood with tall frondy ferns and hold your nose skunk cabbage.  From the sweet smell of freshly mown grass making me sneeze. From happy yellow forsythias, proud purple lilacs, and sprawling green pachysandra on a sunny spring day.

I am from the pink and green Holly Hobby bedroom full of Nancy Drews and kitten posters down the hall from the fancy blue living room you dare not enter. From the kitchen table at dinner covered with books and newspapers and all you hear is the clatter of forks on plates and the flutter of pages turned.

I am from new pajamas on Christams Eve and dimples in my shoulders.  From Scholzes and Muellers and Prokops.

I am from the loud yellers and the nervous hair twirlers and the step off the curb ankle sprainers.

From you’re not getting up until you eat your string beans and stop reading under the covers and go to sleep.

I am from genuflecting and incense and feast days. From hard wooden pews, creaky kneelers, and starchy wafers struck to the roof of my mouth. From questions I dared not ask.

I’m from the Bronx but not the Bronx. I’m from liverwurst on rye, potato pierogies and lasagna with a side of garlic bread.

From my grandmother crossing the Atlantic on a boat arriving St. Patrick’s Day 1929. And my grandfather landing in New York knowing only ham and cheese please. And my great aunts saving nickels earned at Horn & Hardarts Automat.

I am from faded Kodachrome Instamatic prints of birthdays, Christmases, Easters, Mother’s Days, Father’s Days and Thanksgiviging chronologically stuck in spiral albums with crinkly cellophane covers that are occasionally dusted, were saved from a flood, and rarely opened.

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We cannot fashion our children after our desires, we must have them and love them as God has given them to us. ~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each. ~ Plato

I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it. ~ Harry S. Truman

Listen to the desires of your children. Encourage them and then give them the autonomy to make their own decision.  ~ Denis Waitley

Earlier this month I finished reading Jodi Picoult’s book, Nineteen Minutes. My initial response to her book focused on remembering Columbine and describing lockdown drills in schools. But as all her books do, this book has given me much food for thought.  What makes one child go over the edge while another does not? And for those sad individuals who are pushed over the edge why do some harm themselves while others harm many? Why is one child considered unique while another is considered odd? Why are some children targets for bullies while other are left alone? And finally, how did the mother not know that her child was in so much pain?

As a parent I wonder, when should you push and when should you ease up?  No, I’m not talking about giving birth, especially since I had two C-sections and have no idea what it means to push!  I’m talking about when are you fostering independence and maturity and when are you torturing your child? These thoughts were racing through my mind as I read the part where the mother of the teen shooter remembers sending her son to sleep away camp. He called the first night panicked and wanted to come home. She made him stay and recalls how he seemed very different when he came home.  When is it helping to force your child to do something they truly do not want to do and when is it harming?

This summer my older son decided he wanted to go to sleep away camp. We found a great camp, figured out the logistics, and he had an amazing time. He is my adventurous child. My child who has no fear of performing in front of the entire school or proudly telling people he dances ballet. My child who is friends with many different groups of kids.  My child who this morning went to school wearing a chicken hat on his head – a plush roasted chicken, complete with those fancy white footy things (that was his favorite part of the hat).  I am constantly in awe of his sense of humor, his empathy, his talent, and his self assuredness.

My younger son wanted to go to a camp like his brother’s but not a sleep away camp. He said he wasn’t ready. I told him he was old enough, but he said no. We found an alternative and he was able to go to a day camp that was more traditional – archery, zip lining, canoeing, etc. He had a great time. Now I’m sure he would have had a great time at the sleep away camp as well, but having been a child who refused to go to a sleep away camp I listened to him and didn’t force the issue.  But should I have forced it? A few years ago when he was resisting piano lessons, I made him begin anyway.  I knew he didn’t want to start  because he’s a perfectionist.  He wanted to be able to play perfectly from the start. Fortunately his teacher was able to teach him a few quick and easy songs and he was hooked.  Now he’s been playing for two years and loves it. I knew I could push him to play piano, but I chose not to push him with sleep away camp.

As I think about the conversation from last spring, I know I did not understand why my older son wanted to go to sleep away camp. OK, I did understand why. I just couldn’t relate to it. And I absolutely understood why my younger son did not want to go. Would it have been good for him to expand his boundaries and grow? Probably. But maybe he would he have been absolutely miserable and instead of moving out of his comfort zone he would have retreated. Sometimes I feel like it’s harder to parent my younger son because he is so similar to me.

My younger son has strong mathematical abilities, loves puzzles, is extremely conscientious and rule oriented – just like me. And like me he tends to have some anxiety and to view the world as black and white – very few shades of gray.  I love my younger son too with all my heart and I pray that as an adult he does not struggle with the same issues that I do. So I may push him a little harder than he’d like, but I’ll listen carefully for the trumpet of retreat.

I’ve been struggling all day with how to end this post. This book raised so many different questions and I addressed one small part. I do know that I don’t have the answers. I can’t even begin to presume to know the answers.  For now, I can strive to be the best mom I can possibly be by raising my children to be the best they can and want to be.

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I would love to hear your thoughts. For those of you with grown children – how did you know when to push and when to back off?

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As I was looking at my Site Stats, I saw for the first time that I had options. I could view my stats By Day, By Week, By Month or Humanize. Intrigued as to what Humanized stats might look like, I clicked on it. Here is what it said:

Today you have had 2 views.

Two and three are the only two consecutive prime numbers. 2 is the first Sophie Germain prime, the first factorial prime, the first Lucas prime, and the first …

Other than feeling sad that I only had 2 views, I found this to be strangely coincidental. I couldn’t remember ever learning about Sophie Germain until last night when I was reading. I am currently reading The Square Root of Murder by Ada Madison.

I’d never heard of the book or the author prior to picking it up at Borders last month. It was an impulse buy. I was a math major in college so I was drawn to the term Square Root in the title. I occasionally enjoy a good mystery as well. The main character Sophie is a mathematics professor at a fictional college in Boston. She happens to be named after Sophie Germain.

Here’s a picture and some information from Wikipedia about Sophie Germain:

picture from wikipedia.com

Marie-Sophie Germain (April 1, 1776 – June 27, 1831) was a French mathematicianphysicist, and philosopher. Despite initial opposition from her parents and difficulties presented by a gender-biased society, she gained education from books in her father’s library and from correspondence with famous mathematicians such as Lagrange, Legendre, and Gauss. One of the pioneers of elasticity theory, she won the grand prize from the Paris Academy of Sciences for her essay on the subject. Her work on Fermat’s Last Theorem provided a foundation for mathematicians exploring the subject for hundreds of years after.[1] Because of her gender, she was unable to make a career out of mathematics, but worked independently throughout her life.[2]

I’m sure I must have learned about Sophie Germain during four years of studying mathematics in college. And I must have learned about Sophie Germain primes at some point.  According to wikipedia:
Sophie Germain prime is a prime p such that 2p + 1 is also prime.[47]
So 2 is a the first Sophie Germain prime since it is a prime and when you multiply by 2 and add 1 you get 5 which is also prime.  7 would not be a Sophie Germain prime because 2×7 + 1 = 15  which is not a prime number.
OK, sorry. I can get carried away by my nerdiness.
Anyway, yesterday I didn’t know anything about Sophie Germain and today I do. And now you do too!

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Pottermore!

After missing the Magical Quill every day so far because it was in the middle of the night, I found it today! Pretty easy question, though. I did not have to scroll through a bunch of pictures to find the Magical Quill as others have described. I just entered the answer and voila!

My username is MoonCrimson210 – they make you select from a few choices. I chose MoonCrimson because quirky little Luna Lovegood is one of my favorite characters.

Now I wonder what my patronus will be…

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