life, Uncategorized

A Very Serious Chat About My Dishwasher…

If you balk at this title. Move on. This is not an essay for anyone that grew up washing their clothes in a creek with homemade detergent. Also, please move on if you believe that the dishwasher is killing our planet through energy use or excessive water waste. Never heard anyone complain of the latter. But in today’s crazy world, they are out there lurking, waiting, and ready for their moment to bring their secret cult mainstream to take down my favorite appliance. Probably yours as well, if you are still reading this rambling. As for those that carried water, took rocks to their clothes, or cooked by firewood. Bless you. But we have nothing in common. Nothing.

I like hotels, room-service, spas, and the option of five-star restaurants. I did not grow up this way, but I caught on early. My first hotel experience was during a camping trip in July in Mammoth, California. It snowed. While, I survived the night in my tent. The white stuff and I were not friends. A strange foreign feeling took over my body, later to be identified as frostbite, OK. Cold. But it felt worse. From this absolute horror a diva was born. I began to scream and demand breakfast in my sleeping bag and crying to leave the experience of white fluff with a tinge of freeze. I kept muttering hotel, hotel, hotel until my limp body was carried into the car. No. But I was a pain in the a** Who did I become? My absolute discomfort brought out a monster and earned a trip to the local Mammoth hotel.

Now, we are talking. A magical place where food can be delivered with a smile, as my mother had stopped smiling hours ago. I am sure it was the frostbite and not my tantrums. Nevertheless, I found others who would cater to my ways and I was happy to use all their services. That was the beginning of the end.

Now, in my real world I do not live in a hotel, albeit I could. Our first together home was in Northern California was 400 square feet, our laundry was serviced and delivered, our apartment was cleaned by a sweet weekly maid, bellman and concierge were available 24-7, and all other amenities including a driving service for those who worked in San Francisco. City and back everyday. No driving. No parking. Pure heaven. When the hubs decided we needed more room, for less of a price tag, I cried for days.

Fast forward thirty-three years. I would live in the city with a view and amenities galore. The hubs likes this thing called land. In this trade-off, he won. But I have every gadget to make life concierge friendly. My favorite is my dishwasher. A trusted friend. Truth be told, I never load it correctly, and am not a fan of unloading it, but the concept of hiding dirty dishes and pressing a few buttons to give you the clean sanitized feel is priceless. So, while I do not miss any other kitchen appliance on our yearly camp excursion. I miss my dishwasher. It is a true necessity and an often an overlooked friend of the kitchen. My best friend. Truth be told, she could stand an upgrade. I am just not telling her yet. She would be crushed.


The 8th Grade Letter

Dear 8th Graders,

This year you were gone too soon. But with or without me you are heading to high-school and you are ready! I will not be there to hold your hand and dry your tears, but I do have some advice:

  1. Be open to new friends. This will be a time of ups and downs and a definite growth period that some friendships last and others do not. It is not your fault, it is life.
  2. Be Kind. I know as elementary teachers we drill this into your head, but what do you want people to remember about you, after these four years are said and done. Besides you get invited to more parties and have more friends. Who does not want that?
  3. Trust yourself. You are a great group of kids and I trusted you with everything in my room, my wallet often in plain site, and was crazy enough to give you a pass to walk around the school, when times got tough for you…without too much fear on my part. I trusted you. Now it is time for you to trust yourself and your instincts as I trusted mine with you and that worked out pretty well.
  4. Do Whatever it Takes. You will need to challenge yourselves to make the grade, the team, and the new friendships. Do everything you can in your power to get the job done.
  5. Get to know your teachers. It sounds crazy but they want to know you. It is those that throughout the years that have shared pieces of their lives with me that have become the ones that I will never forget. Teachers like to listen and to share. So now it is time to find your new Mrs. L.

In closing, you will always be my kids, but now you must leave. Always remember to Never Say Never to challenges or obstacles because if you fold you will not see the beauty in achievement. It was an honor and a privilege to be your teacher and please come visit.

Mrs. L


Day Whatever and Thoughts…

I went to the grocery store. This in itself is a mistake, but this particular trip brought to mind the movie The Stepford Wives. The clip that stands out is the grocery scene. The ladies make their way through the aisles with heels, hair, and attire in perfection. Their faces forward never glancing at a list or squinting at a product name or sugar count. Just going up and down the aisles in search of something not found in the store…freedom. This same feeling has been mine during all of my adventures to the various stores I have visited during shelter on place aka lockdown.

Of course my recent trip was without the fancy hair, makeup, and as always sporting my lovely readers over the mask. This look causes random blind moments, and possible run-ins with the other customer carts or customers, thus breaking all sorts of rules. Trust me. Since oxygen and reading are necessary. I now found myself wanting to rebel. When no one was near I quickly whipped off the mask to catch a breath and grab the correct item or any item as I feared being seen breaking an invisible code. Quickly, I re-masked and staggered to the next item on the list.

The art of feeling free, at least to me, has been lost. That day we as the masked zombies of Stepford strolled we all seemed to be looking for the lost greetings, smiles, and random conversations to pass the time while hunting for the best priced cake mix, or is that just me? Perhaps. Happiness has been replaced by fear and control, needed or not, it is control.

The quest for food, especially the desire to buy three of anything has been my only outing for two months. Like a caged animal, I have braved only the grocery stores along with the possible germs to feed my crew. I have been found dancing and crying in front of paper goods and the meat aisle while others pass and give me a nod noting that they understand. Buying three Quest bars gave me the same satisfaction as childbirth.

Groceries, I thought, would give me back the feeling of being free. The choice to pick my own produce, instead of employees who usually get it wrong with each and every purchase. Now, please know I hate grocery shopping and cooking…but when the homelife demands were issued, it has been part of my unsinkable daily life. I created a predictable day and if out of sync I started feeling like Chicken Little.

Of course none of this is normal, and we all have our feelings and stories that got us through to our phase one and the opening up of our worlds, cautiously and of course by choice but I still do not feel free. No, I feel watched, counted, and shamed for wearing the mask or the choice not to wear one. I have not made peace with any of this. If you have, let me know. I need your insight or your denial of the situation. My heavy thoughts have been rooted in our constitutional founders and what they must be thinking during these times. As tomorrow gives us a new sense of freedom in Arizona, I will celebrate with a hair appointment. That’s all. Perhaps out of fear, perhaps due to the control over our lives that has become second nature. I am not sure.



No one has a formulated understanding of what the next school year will bring. Personally, I keep replaying the commercial where the father is gliding down the aisles tossing with abandon anything that remotely could be used for school. The kids in this scenario have their heads down and follow in either embarrassment or the dread of school. While kids want to return come fall, they will not be rushing our doors as they have had an extended holiday of sorts without their friends, which is the only reason they are coming back. Friends. OK, there are some out their that missed the inner teachings of school and what we offer in the classrooms but they are coming back for social well-being with a significant lag in skills. I already see it in the virtual world, and I have accepted it, and adjusting my curricula to a slower level until I can get them revved up. I am not worried about the task at hand or curriculum or tests, I am worried about them.

To be honest, I do not hear from all my kiddos through their attempts at work. I input, it sits in a variety of classroom files and platforms, and they are making their decisions to either take a break, parents choosing to tackle their own homeschooling curricula, or challenge their parents to the extreme with the daily school battle. I believe for many it is the latter. I am sorry.

In these quiet times of transition to the new world of education, my Following the Child methodology, has never been handier. This week alone I switched platforms to lend creativity for students who are craving a bit of change. I received more attempts at work in one day, than in a week. That said the platform, KidBlog, only works for writing teachers but for the next month we will explore a variety of prompts instead of demanding essay, after essay. My initial ideas fell flat, and change was needed. For those teaching at school or home I suggest it.

Go to:

My desire for a small change was not just for the sake of curriculum, keeping busy, and guiding a schedule for their days at home. It is not for the exercise of the mind before the dawning of a new age and stage enters our classrooms, it was for my heart and my own selfish need. I need to hear from my kids and know they are OK. Their lives are at times tenuous and a far cry from white picket fence safety. Just knowing they are safe is enough for me in a world turned upside down, inside out and with no starting date in sight.

For now the thirty or so that actively turn-in work will have to be my hearts reality to enjoy the knowledge that they and their family is safe. My real worry is the fall, the sanitized life we will have to lead, the crowded classrooms, and the levels both behaviorally and academically students will come into rooms bearing. The difference will be drastic as it varies from state to state but welcome as we will be open. I fear not as quickly as we would like, but open.

Parents you are our true heroes and I know you are dying to glide giddily down the school aisles. But once the purchases are over the goodbyes are said, please don’t run away. We need you more than ever as our tasks during 2020-2021 are daunting.


My Heart Drives Me…Old Post

Once in awhile you feel you reach someone, you give them the ideological nonsense and wisdom in your head to make them want to reach for the brass ring. I did that, all year, and even reached out to others to help this students dreams come true. Then he chose to fail. Right in front of my eyes just stop wanting, caring, or trying. And he let me know in an email to what he calls me “Moms.” He got sucked back into the world of his family with just a few more weeks left to go, he was almost there. Almost. GCC full-ride with work-study with the coach and a full load of classes. Gone.

I failed. Or that is how it feels, once again all the feelings of failure as a little girl growing up co-dependent come back, but this time a tad smarter…just shook my head and went on, still with a knife in my heart…but not my problem. No, not at all. If it was that easy to let go. If only it was. Note to all future teachers if you hail from co-dependent tendencies become anything but a teacher, it hurts too much and obviously the pay does not heal the heart. For me it is too late, and frankly my love of teaching overrides all of my past wounds, but the feeling of a student just giving up is absolutely sickening.

Oh, I am sure there is more to the story that I will never know, I only got the excuses…being kicked out of the house, no one to drive him to a USTAF track meet and thus giving up a scholarship. Something does not smell right, but all I see is the quitting. Then I start thinking and that is a dangerous game, was I lied to…or just does he truly live in the most awful situation in existence? Who does not drive their child somewhere, who kicks them out for absolutely no reason (this would be the second time, thank you), who ignores one son and sings all hail to the chief to the other son…who does this? Parents who cannot parent, do not want to parent, or do not want to be bothered by the extra that comes with a child with a talent or at least a dream. But I digress. This is not a parenting blog, and I am truly no expert.

So today I must move on with a knife in my heart and allow the pain to subside and then leave me comfortably numb, which is the state I prefer once August rolls around. Never quite getting there, but something that in a low socio-economic status school with difficult students is a state of being that would allow me to survive with less wounds. Never attained this state, but I am tending to wear them well as the years go by, and now realizing my desired state of bliss is probably just a dream-like fantasy. These are the same kids I adore, who need a softy like me, but hurt me day in and day out. My heart always a few sizes larger than my brain, I cannot grapple with the idea of why not my kids…why can’t they have it all.

It always comes down to parents, family situations, how many family members in jail, or how many times they have been in juvenile detention, or the working during school to put food on the table or help pay the monthly bills. Not extras, but living. If I could only block out their real lives, they could have a life, but with cards stacked against them before they enter it is only for a few to rise to the top, and those are the ones with a normal family structure and desire or lack of fear to leave their comfort zone.

Days like this I want to run to the nearest helicopter school and apply, and while these kiddos still go through pain, it is different, it is relatable, it is todays normal, so to speak. What I see is horrific on a regular basis and frankly do not know how many more years I can do this? How many more years of terror can I see? But the one thing that brings me back from the brink every year is a student(s) that you want to pour your heart into to watch them get a life that is past their dreams.

That is what brings me back, that is keeps me
going. That is why I teach. Today is just harder. Today hurts. Today I failed.

As of today…no word on this student. I now don’t consider it a failure but growth for me and a huge chance for him that he was not ready for…


Middle-School Mindset

After a day of phone conversations guiding parents and kids. I took heart in the fact that thet are putting safety first. While I was chatting with my parents they always asked how my family was doing over and above the school conversations…that was nice. The lessons I will be sharing on this blog going forward will be for the 7th-9th grade band of students. Yes, the horrible years, when there is not a kid in this world who wants his parents to tell them what to do or worse yet be taught by them. These are my favorite years and my day job is teaching 8th grade writing and history.

Today the lesson focus is on reading informational text and answering questions in the RACES format. Below are quick notes on the format and transistions. I will also provide a link to the NY Times article for today for so you can begin your learning adventures.

RACES format and a list of Transistions!

The article below has one essential question what is the stimulus package providing for Americans?

Have your son/daughter read, highlight and annotate the article. Then answer the above question in the RACES format, which will give every teacher their prized possession, a complete answer that includes a citation, to strengthen their work. They can use this format at any age or stage and throughout the highschool years for at least a starting off point.

Take the idea of responding with RACES and run with this throughout week by using any of the below resources that are packed with thousands of articles, videos, questions, and essay prompts.



Mask/Bra Color is Everything…

Beautiful Bra/Beautiful Mask | Old bras, Beautiful mask, Bra

Yesterday I hit a wall. The Corona wall without one in hand. I felt lost. A little thirsty and out of my comfort zone with no where to turn other than social media laughter and a few news conferences which only brought gloom and doom with more concerns than comfort. During this season at home I have been doing everything to keep busy especially working out via online classes and walking with my partner in crime, the hubs of almost thirty-two years. I took a day off from my physical efforts, this was a mistake, I think. Could it be that all of those happy skinny people had something right all these years? Are endorphins really a legal happy pill. Now, I know you are thinking that at fifty-six years of age I should know this answer but my exercise regimen always consisted, with places to go people to see. Now, I have none. No one does. We sit alone and wait.

Today, not wanting that feeling to come over me again, I went to Walmart, usually a place that brings that feeling, and about a million reasons never to go again. Today, however, was different. I went with a pep in my step, ignored the bad parking and only shook my head at one women’s fluffy slippers and long head scarf coordinated with her hot pink shorts that skimmed her knees. That was a little shake and chuckle. But then, if I had such slippers and other accessories, would I not wear them. Frankly, who was I to judge, in my leggings and sweatshirt, my current standard uniform. I did shower and put on some make-up. So feeling like a true queen. It was great to be out. Then I went inside.

Surrounding me were masks and gloves galore. Last time I marched into the public eye I did not see the world as I did today. A war zone, people either panicked, ill or both I assume. No way of knowing, so I glanced fervently through the store and tried to lock eyes with others that did not have the new uniform in place to see if their eyes had the same panic starting to set in. Throughout my journey, up and down every aisle, to kill time and of course to check out the Easter loot, I found more in the medical garb than less. My gait started to quicken as my basket was already full of plastic eggs, bubbles, dye, and of course the needed Easter apron, that is if you are Betty Crocker or slightly insane, and I qualify for the latter. Starting to fill the basket for the real needs of frozen tater tots, and the last bag of strawberries for my smoothies. This family has a definite division in eating habits and needs during this time, and that’s OK. Anything to get us through the day, I have wine, he has tater tots. We also have plenty of Carmex if anyone is in need. Once done and standing in line I watched the cashier, she looked concerned and eyed me up and down looking for signs or something and I stood wondering whether she would check me out or call for back-up. She ushered me through and we began to do the dance back and forth with the scanning, bagging, and placing in the cart all to stay six feet away. I wished her a great day and thanked her for her service but she is already eyeing the next customer. At least I no longer felt alone.

The fresh air felt great and my thoughts started to lighten, until I got home. I shared my my outing and the hubs, who is always positive and the words he uttered shocked me in response to my story. “Probably the new attire.” Laughingly, I asked. “Will we have to wear them.” His answer was hesitant. “We will see, it looks like it.” Then I panicked. I don’t sew, there is the bra version I could maneuver or perhaps the EMT son has an extra or two. Probably not, so now I sit wondering which bra I should wear, and which one the hubs should wear. Around our faces of course.

Whatever we choose as a guard it will probably be black and come with a very chic story.


It’s Friday

Parents feel free to celebrate ten days in confinement and pat yourselves on the back. You are amazing as are your kids, as their stress and boredom is as real as yours. With that celebration, the end is not in sight. While some of you are getting used to the rhythm and may even enjoy the simplicity and flexibility that home-school can bring, most of you are wondering what is next or ways you can better service your kids. As a teacher I am wondering, waiting, and long to be of better service to my students. Currently our district is only doing packets while other avenues are explored. I am frustrated. So I turned to the masses or honestly the few that read and find that if nothing else we are all in this together and while my words may change depending on the crisis of the educational moment, my blog and its focus has finally found a purpose which is to continue to serve and be a constant voice for kids.

Onward…Next week will be a challenge as the newness has worn off unless you have in your home kids that love confinement and you giving them their math lessons. Yes, that’s what I thought. So, now what. Change up the routine and change it up fast. Here are some ideas.

  1. Let your child re-design their work space.
  2. Let your child take more breaks. Walk, Art, Video, Snack, Creating cards for the elderly or medical professionals.
  3. Change the time of their studies go from AM to PM or vice versa.
  4. Let them play dress up and be in character while they attack their studies.
  5. Bribe any students in the middle-school years. Oh, you have. Double it.
  6. Give praise.
  7. Skip a day or two.
  8. Allow your child to plan a menu, take your order, set the table, and create the snack or meal.
  9. Watch an educational video.
  10. Let them learn a new skill. Whatever your child wants to learn, find information and let them get a taste of it.
  11. Go outside with their material and “camp.”
  12. Find a virtual tutor, if you are at wits end. Find one, it will save your relationship.
  13. By a recorder (horrific instrument) and play. Sorry it sounds horrible but it is fun and teaches the basics of musical notes. Go to Amazon. They are plastic. Enough said.
  14. Let your kids wear their swimming masks and flippers while they do their work, and then go swimming. This also, fits under the bribe category.
  15. Create a work wall to hang their best work of the week. Let kids choose and create.
  16. Create Salt Art and have a gallery walk around your house with your child as the docent.
  17. Virtual Field-Trips
  18. Let them re-design their rooms. This will take some patience, a little bit of cash, and perhaps a coat or two of paint. This is similar to number one but on a larger scale and giving your child in these uncertain times a new place that defines their personalities.
  19. Give praise.
  20. Drink, eat, workout…whatever your vice is that gets you through this time. Do it. Into macrame, go for it as you are setting time for yourself and that is important. If anyone still does macrame, I would like a picture. Just saying.

Many of the above, you have done. I know. Again, this blog is for the masses or the four or five that follow, and maybe they have not been treated to a meal created by your eleven year old.

So how do I end something that seemingly has no end. With links. hopefully helpful links to get creative in anyway that would work for your child and revamp your weekend or upcoming week.


Modern/Hip Hop Dance:

Dance for Preschoolers: http://www.danceparent101


Plethora or Stuff:

Paint online:


Salt Art:

Virtual Field-Trips:

Educational Free Stuff:


Montessori Life

Twenty-nine years ago my classroom life began in the Montessori philosophy and school. My experiences from following the child, the central mantra, is now the title of my blog. Fitting, as I still follow these thoughts with a bit of leadership everyday. The curriculum is not for everyone, but it sung to me, as it is hands on, active, and creative.

Then, I went into the public classroom, and have evolved depending on the grade, curriculum, and group of kids. The littles of long ago were in groups and I came home stained from a variety of projects. My ELL students sat with me at a horseshoe table. My theatre classes, in the high-school setting, were all over the place but every move had a purpose. Currently, my middle-school writing students are currently in rows and have flexible pull-out groups. The point of all this babble is that we need to follow, adapt, and create based on the moment of the day, week, month, year, and the kids.

One activity that you can do at home and continue when the days of homeschooling are over, are the below shapes that coordinate with parts of speech. Since we have lost the art of the diagramming of sentences, in a majority of classrooms, I bring you the Montessori way. Now, I have used this with littles after my stint in Montessori life to introduce the parts of speech non-verbally, and have allowed older students to use the shapes to show me their knowledge. As for today, I use a variety of books that teach the concepts, without going into the massive grammar trees of yesteryear. I want understanding and the use of words in their writing correctly, not to stop and recite all known prepositions in one sitting. Who cares. We have Google.

Now, in Montessori school there are specific lessons with each symbol but since the majority of kids do not participate in this style, I would allow them to find nouns one day and draw the coordinating shape etc. Just the action of finding the parts of speech and taking crayon to paper to show that knowledge will be a fabulous learning tool.

In bringing you this short dribble today I hope that you can see inside my heart and passion for all kids.

Following the Child was an obvious choice!


Homeschooling or Bust…

A few weeks ago, you dropped off your child at their school and did your daily happy dance as you survived the morning chaos and had the day to yourselves. We know. We understand. We have seen the dance in car line. It’s OK. You have adult lives that need your focus. As you waived good-bye or more of a see ya, as you are the parents that are constantly on high alert. You take on the tasks of daily homework help, tests, projects, forms to sign, and lunches to pack etc. Frankly, that is enough as you are our partner not the teacher. Why? You are also in charge of raising a good human, working, cooking and cleaning and chauffeuring to play-dates and sporting events. Your plate is full and we got this teaching stuff down.

Enter a virus that seems to spread at a rate that boggles the mind and you are stressed, your kids are stressed, and worse yet you are stuck in your home without the release valve of adults at work or their little playmates. You are now the teacher along with all of your other daily tasks that now seem never-ending as working from home is no picnic as you never leave your work. Mix in kids and schoolwork and boom, you have your own mini-pandemic.

This blog is now here to help. No, not in the perfect homeschooling fashion that shows how easy it is to stay home all day and come up with exciting options that make you drool. These parents before the pandemic probably made you feel you could do the same. If they can, I can syndrome. No, no you can’t, as it is not that easy, those parents have made a conscious choice and weathered the storms to make it look simple as it is their calling for their families. It works for them. On day whatever with your kids screaming, a loss of how to do common core math, and crying over assignments. You know better, but you do need to survive and enjoy the process of learning together. I am here to save the day for those that have no desire to ever do this again but need a bit of humor and a lesson or two to incorporate or pass to others. For those that are pros pass this along to those in the minor leagues or in crisis. Those parents can be spotted day drinking. Just saying.

So let’s get started. My specialty is writing in the middle and high-school years. But in the spirit of this blog I will go through the various ages and stages as I have taught all grades sans fifth. To begin our writing journey we are starting simple with the little ones. Caution, mom and dad you are going to back off and resist wanting writing perfection you need to see where they are in their abilities so the focused lessons I give, over the weeks, are ones you can use to fit their needs. Also, please note these lessons are gap fillers, not new curriculum, as I do not know your child, their level, prior education at their school or any of their advanced or special needs, so you will have to accommodate.

Objective: Writing Can Be Fun

Kinder thru Second:


  1. Paper, pencils, crayons, or computer
  2. Two types of cookies, candy, chips, or ice cream

This writing will first allow your child to taste-test the products of their choice. If you recently baked, allow them to sample your baking and compare it to the store bought variety. If you do not bake, then just go to your pantry and dig out any tasty treats. After the tasting it is time to write. Well, wait a minute let them draw first. Fold the paper in half and let them draw both of the items they tasted making their best choice the obvious winner via stars around it, circling it, happy faces, stickers…whatever they want! Next comes the writing, you are looking for two solid sentences:

I Like ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________.



Your child will be at a variety of stages. They might still be oral, thus telling you his/her likes and the why with you writing it down on the lines, with their copying the letters after. Perhaps, writing in complete sentences with letters reversed and phonetic spelling (don’t change and don’t panic). Or finally, using a full subject and predicate model (noun and verb) with adjectives or describing words either beginning or in full use. Your goal with this patterned writing is two full sentences or more with a noun, verb and adjective in phonetic spelling with the goal of finding the misspelled words and putting those naturally in your spelling practice without making their mistakes a big deal. You can use this I Like/Because pattern throughout the week with all different activities that do not require food. Play games, and compare, ride a bike and a scooter and compare, slide vs. swing. You get it. The goal is fun, art and finally the writing.

So give this a try and let me know your successes and/or other needs. Later this week I will write a lesson on B and D, give some spelling practice fun, and of course a more advanced noun, verb, adjective hands-on lesson that will guide their learning and take their learning to the next level inserting it in their writing before we tackle our next writing, the how to book.