Many thoughts about the world, meditation, parenting, Judaism, pregnancy, teaching, cancer survivorship, moving from West Coast to East and more.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jenkinson's Beach



My brother and niece happened to arrive the day after my last work day at school. We went to the beach. ND did a fishing game on the Boardwalk where she won a big stuffed Clownfish.






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5 Pipes

There's a place near here called the Teaneck Creek Conservancy. ND and I went for a walk there recently. They're doing a community art project called the 5 Pipes. We're going to get to go help paint whenever we want.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

33

32 was an awfully good age for me. As I noted once in an earlier post it was an age I really looked forward to help me define myself as an adult.

I had a great year with my family, with our house, with my work, with my free time. I did a lot.

Wondering where things will go from here. I think I'd like to learn to relax a bit.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Ginat Kesher

I helped plant a garden yesterday. And I'm going to be doing the blog for it too.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Success

We did it.

Or I did it.

Depends on your perspective.

We (my assistant and I) just finished off a tremendously productive school year.

I just finished the best teaching year of my life.

I taught two classes full-time while still making time for my daughter at home.

I did the academics better than ever before, with clear goals and successes.

And still I maintained the more important thing, the thing that I've been able to do all along, which was to connect with the kids. And I think (hope) I did even that better than ever before.

Today was great. It was quick and fun and everyone was happy with the treats I brought with no one complaining they wanted something else.

But it was actually a little hard too. A few of the kids were quite emotional about leaving us. For some it was just the fact of a transition, but for others, it really does matter that they're leaving us. They made huge strides with us and needed our love to do it.

I found myself crying a little... no surprise as I'm sentimental. But then, when a particular group of my kids came to give me a hug, it become much stronger than that.

Later when I came home, I was cooking for Shabbat and suddenly was truly overcome. It's hard, to put so much effort and heart into something... into someone... into several someones... and then have them go on their way, out of your reach probably forever.

I'm very proud of them and of me.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Good bye

There are many ways in which I can sort my friends, but one way is in the categories of "Those who are here and available to me" and "those who are far away."

This afternoon we went to a going away party for some friends making aliyah. I feel like I'm moving them like a game piece from one category to the other. By the end of the summer that will be two of ND's friends who have moved away, and several of mine too, of course.

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Summer is Almost Here

It's so close.

I have one week left of teaching, and another week of closing up shop. (Only two of those days are required. The others are days I'm taking to prepare for next year while ND is still in daycare.)

Already I'm feeling like I can relax a little, although I'm not terribly good at it.

I spend most of my life either working really hard or thinking I should be doing something different than I am. If I get up early, I even wonder if I should sleep in a little the way I imagine my peers doing. If I relax, I think I'm missing out on valuable work time.

One of my biggest goals this summer is just to trust myself more.

I did a little work in the yard today. I had to remind myself that I really haven't done any in ages, and barely even felt compelled to as I was in the midst of the school year. Now that I was doing it, I felt on one hand that I was finally glad to be helping out with it, but again, wondering if I should be doing something else instead.

Who do I think is checking up on me? Is this about living more in the present moment, or about being less judgmental towards myself? Or about fear of loss of opportunity?

Or all?

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Up



SPOILER ALERT!

We saw Up today. Our first movie in awhile.

I'd like to refrain from my usual tirades about children's movies, but I'm afraid that my opinions in this area are too relevant for me to ignore in this case. Here's why:

Up is basically two different movies. In the beginning it's a touching story about a little boy who wants to be an explorer. He meets a like-minded girl and they have a very sweet friendship which leads to romance and marriage and a beautiful and touching life together. That segment sadly includes her death. Besides the usual sadness of loss of a life partner, there is also a grief in the fact that they had planned to someday explore and live in Paradise Falls in South America. The old man, too, is about to be put -- against his will -- into a retirement home. It's at this point that he decides triumphantly to go on his own for the two of them.

I think that could have been a lovely 15-minute short, suitable for adults. (I cried nonstop during that entire part of the movie.)

But the market is not for profound short animation pieces. It's for full-length action/adventure that can lead to as much product placement as possible that children can demand their parents buy. Some artists, Spielberg for example, alternate between making movies that are meaningful and making movies that sell. This one tried to do both by throwing in a silly adventure with cute and villainous characters and highly predictable values and discoveries.

If I could have just watched the beginning and ended in one scene from later, I would have rated the movie a 9 or 9.5. (I don't do 10 hardly ever.) But all the other stuff pushed it down to a 5 or 6 for me.

So what about kids... what do they need? Here's my controversial take.

NOTHING!

Children,especially very young ones, should not be sitting in front of a screen at all, certainly not more that about 15 minutes and not in a theater. They can't integrate all this storytelling and they've got whole worlds, both real and imaginary, that they can and should be exploring instead of being paralyzed by the glow of a screen. We show ND (age 2 1/2) home movies and youtube clips of dance numbers. As she gets older we may do more, but storytelling is so basic for her now. Isn't it better to inroduce quality film when she's ready to actually process it? And to actually have a valid conversation about it the way we do wth books in the classroom?

I don't expect that's necessarily what's right for everyone which is why I'm writing it rather than talking about it. But it's upsetting to me that people so rarely even explore this debate anymore.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Pay-Off

Tonight was the end of the year big dinner for our school. I'm usually a least a little uncomfortable in fancy things like this, partly because I don't know how to look the look and dress the dress or feel comfortable with the mingling, but every year I look forward to my school's dinner. I feel like I've earned it.

I saw a parent there whose son was in my class this year and whose daughter was in my class 4 years ago when I first came.

Tonight we were eyeing each other's funky medieval-sleeved dresses and she came over and said, "I don't have any more kids that are going to go through your classes, so boundaries issues are over. As soon as the year's done, we're going shopping!"

I can't wait.

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