Musings of an everyday woman . . .

Reflections on living and loving life . . .

“Where were you when the world stopped turning?” September 12, 2009

Filed under: Education,In the News,Reflections — everydaywomanusa @ 7:14 am
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I didn’t want the eighth  anniversary of 9-11 to go by without a bit of reflection.

Which always brings me to the sad, sweet voice of one of my very favorite country singers, Alan Jackson . . .

. . . and my very first year of teaching third graders.  I was  “in a classroom of innocent children.”  And how their innocence changed on that fateful day!

"Where were you when the world stopped turning
That September day?
Out in the yard with your wife and children
Or working on some stage in L.A.?
Did you stand there in shock at the sight of that black smoke
Risin' against that blue sky?
Did you shout out in anger in fear for your neighbor
Or did you just sit down and cry?

Did you weep for the children who lost their dear loved ones
And pray for the ones who don't know?
Did you rejoice for the people who walked from the rubble
And sob for the ones left below?
Did you burst out in pride for the red, white and blue
And the heroes who died just doin' what they do?
Did you look up to heaven for some kind of answer
And look at yourself and what really matters?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith, hope and love are some good things He gave us
And the greatest is love.

Where were you when the world stopped turning
That September day?
Were you teaching a class full of innocent children
Or driving down some cold interstate?
Did you feel guilty 'cause you're a survivor
In a crowded room did you feel alone?
Did you call up your mother and tell her you loved her?
Did you dust off that Bible at home?

Did you open your eyes and hope it never happened
Close your eyes and not go to sleep?
Did you notice the sunset the first time in ages
Or speak to some stranger on the street?
Did you lay down at night and think of tomorrow
Or go out and buy you a gun?
Did you turn off that violent old movie you're watchin'
And turn on "I Love Lucy" reruns?

Did you go to a church and hold hands with some strangers
Did you stand in line and give your own blood?
Did you just stay home and cling tight to your family
Thank God you had somebody to love?

And the greatest is love.
And the greatest is love.

Where were you when the world stopped turning
That September day?...

Back to September 11, 2001 . . .
My first year of teaching elementary school children.  I had arrived at school before everything happened, around 8 am.  One little, quite precocious boy, arrived late to school that day, about 9:30.  He announced to the class when he bounced into the room that a plane had hit the Twin Towers.  Just into the second week of school, he was already known for his exuberance, story-telling, wild ideas, etc., and it seemed so far-fetched.  I got him settled and checked in with the office.  Was there any truth to this wild story of Brian’s?  This was before Internet in the classroom; I was feeling cut off from the news, world events, etc.  Yes, the school secretary told me over the phone intercom (so the kids couldn’t hear), a plane had indeed flown into one of the Twin Towers.

Next, Alan was dropped off my his Mom, also late.  (I’m using made-up names here, but true story.)  She confided to me in the hall that Alan’s dad, who worked in NYC, was on his way down the stairs of the Tower after the plane hit, so he was on his way home.  Unbelievable, but relief, too.  Alan’s dad was on his way home. . .

Announcement from the office, sent personally . . . Don’t let the children know what had happened . . . they’re small, innocent children . . . carry on with your day normally . . .

Yeah, right,  carry on as if nothing happened . . . I had one child announce the outrageous unbelievable occurance to the class and he was now drawing a picture of a plan dropping bombs on a very tall building during our “Writers’ Workshop.”  Another, whose father was there, but this child hadn’t breathed a word to anyone about it . . . and he wouldn’t for that entire day.

Another teacher at school, a dear friend, came into my classroom, wanting to check on her son who worked in NYC and was supposed to be at work in his office in one of the T.T. that day.  She didn’t have a cell phone, office lines were tied up, could she borrow mine?  With tears in my eyes and my hands shaking (which is in fact what’s happening to me right now as I write this), I handed her my phone and she went into the hall.  I prayed her world wouldn’t change at that moment and I was also praying that Alan’s world wouldn’t change as he knew it.  She walked in, still shaking, but with a bittersweet smile.  Her son had not gone into work that day . . . oh, relief.  How many people’s stories would be similar because of a change of plans on that fateful day, but also how much loss was still in the future, I had no idea of knowing at the moment . . .

A short time later . . .my class of 22 children and I are in the library, listening to a sweet, children’s story that the librarian is reading.  Suddenly, the superintendent of schools arrived at the door and shooed us out of the library.  I was to find out later, that in our elementary school at the time, the only working TV to the outside world for news was in the library, and she wanted to check the news. The poor, sweet librarian thought she had done something wrong!

Through the grapevine, I sound learned that the second Tower was also hit and that the city was PURE CHAOS.  Had Alan’s dad made it to safety?  What about EVERYONE ELSE?

By recess time, I was on the playground with my students, desperately seeking information from my husband as I called him  on my cell.  Grim, sad, unbelievable, you just can’t imagine. . .

I had no idea at the moment of the true tragedy of it all.  I kept thinking of my students and how Alan’s life could be forever changed on that day.  Had his dad made it out?  Would he be fatherless?  How would I help him through this school year, which had just barely begun?

I thought of my own children.  I wanted to be with them.  I thought of friends, family, and so colleagues who worked in New York and whose family and friends traveled there daily.  How many people had this affected?  As we all know, the true monstrous act that unfolded affected thousands of people, people who were innocent and who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time; people whose job it was to help others, and people who jumped into the spirit of helping each other on that fateful day.

The strange thing with Alan was that he never mentioned it all day.  All I could think of was . . .Did his father make it? Is he still alive?  I never heard a word from his mother during the day either, no message.  I imagined her heart was breaking.  At the end of the day, Alan’s mother came to pick him up.  I had actually never met her before.  She came to the door, with tears in her eyes and shaking.  I was in the same shape.  We just hugged.  She whispered in my ear that somehow Alan’s dad made it to the ground, even with the second building being hit, and he was still trying to get out of the city, but he was alright.  He just wasn’t home yet. We held on a bit longer.  Thank goodness, our little Alan did still have his Dad.  But his life had changed, everyone’s life had changed . . . forever. . . no more innocence.  No more “innocent children” as Alan Jackson sings it.

As tears fall on my keyboard as I write this, I send my sincere thoughts and prayers to everyone who was not has lucky as little Alan on that fateful day . . . .


Back to school . . . August 26, 2009

Filed under: Education — everydaywomanusa @ 7:28 pm
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Just in case you’ve been thinking I’m MIA, I’m actually BTS (Back to School)!

It’s been a couple of hectic weeks getting ready for our students and I don’t believe there’s any place hotter than our older elementary schools these hot, humid days as the schools  lack AC and air circulation in general.  As I move things from storage, set up rooms, and slave over the hot copier, I feel like I’m in a sauna and I’m missing my summer days at the pool!

The hardest thing has probably been to transition from pretty much living in a bathingsuit and barefeet to clothes that actually, kind-of look decent, and to wearing shoes on my feet, albeit sandals!

But, there is something else . . . the most important thing on my mind lately is something that I can’t blog about . . . not yet anyway, but soon . . . so stay tuned and enjoy the end of your summer, wherever you are!!!



Guess who I saw today!?! April 24, 2009

Filed under: Education,Travel — everydaywomanusa @ 1:22 am
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Here’s a hint:

  • He’s extremely cute, he lives in the White House, and he has 4 legs!

When walking past the White House today (after a long day at meetings at the D.C. Convention Center), we spied Bo, the first dog!

As a few colleagues and I were walking past the president’s residence, I said that I could picture Bo on the lawn . . . and then, voila!  There he was, a normal puppy who was jumping up on people, with his short, curly, black coat and gleaming white chest.  It looked like he was practicing to sit on command, but he’s a normal, rambunctious puppy!

If  you look really carefully, in the doorway, I believe the man in the white shirt is the first dog’s owner, Obama himself!

I have been at the most incredible education convention in D.C., where 15,000 educators who feel passionately about mathematics and their students have converged on this historic location.  I’ve spent time with one of the real gurus of Math education, Marilyn Burns, and I got to talk with her in person today, after attending a talk she did for 2,500 people!


Here’s the view from my room:


And here’s the Washington Monument up close:


And here it is, with a wonderful reflection in the Reflecting Pool:


And here it is at night . . .


Lots more pix to come, but it’s already tomorrow and I have a very early morning session!


Back to School Today! April 20, 2009

Filed under: Education,Spring — everydaywomanusa @ 5:00 am
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Spring Vacation is over!  Back to school today!  I’m excited to see my students and colleagues after last week’s reprieve.  HAPPY DAY!  HAPPY SPRING!


10,000 Steps! April 4, 2009

Filed under: Education,Exercise,Spring — everydaywomanusa @ 9:51 am
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When I came across an old pedometer the other day, I was reminded of an article I had read a while back about taking 10,000 steps each day for your health.  I decided to wear it for fun just to check how I was doing and I tracked 15,547 steps that day, just from daily activity.  Adding a walk around our farm that evening with my husband (something we’re trying to do as many nights as possible), I added a couple thousand more steps.

This past week, I’ve been busy with my students helping them collect and analyze data, so this was a perfect tie-in to real-life experience.  They collected data by choosing an activity (dribbling a basketball, running in place, jumping rope) and timing how many repetitive movements they could do in a minute.  Some even wore pedometers, as they learned about rates, averages/mean, mode, range, median, etc.  I also let them know about the “10,000 steps per day” idea and many of them decided to count their steps for the day, too.  Fortunately, our P.E. Dept. had received a gift of pedometers (that were idle), which they were willing to share.

Anyways, this had led me to really think about getting more exercise and how I can up that daily movement into 20,000 steps to be even healthier.  You’d be surprised how many steps accumulate just from daily activity.  When you’re wearing a pedometer, I think you’re just motivatyed to do more walking because you’re thinking about it more.

So . . . a few friends and I have signed up to do some 5K Walk/Runs and I’m planning on our annual, 8-mile hike around a local reservoir when that opens up to the public in May.  I’ve never been much of a “runner,” although I did jog BC (Before Children).  I’ve always loved doing aerobic dance classes and ever taught them for a bit (AC) and while pregnant, I taught a prenatal aerobics class, which was a lot of fun.  These days, the gym doesn’t seem to be beckoning me as much, but the outside is, after being inside most of the day at school.

As spring is in the air, and it’s getting warmer and greener,  I know I need to firm up from too much “winter idleness.”  What are you doing for exercising?  Are you a walker or a runner?  Is the gym your exercise place of choice?  What fits into your day?


Keeping up with 3 Blogs. . . March 29, 2009

As much as I love blogging, I’m finding it challenging to keep up with 3 blogs!

Besides Musings of an Everyday Woman, which I just started last summer, I’m also posting on:

It seems the only time I have to blog is in the middle of the night (instead of sleeping!) and other moments stolen on weekends.

When and how do YOU  make time to blog?


“Gratitude Sunday”

Inspired by Green Mamma and Imelda/Greenish Lady, I’ve decided to do a “Gratitude Sunday” post instead of a Sunday Stroll today.  I’ve gotten away from my “Thankful Thursday” posts a bit too long.

On this gray, rainy, Sunday at the end of March, I’m extremely thankful for:

  • My wonderful family who seems seems to understand and support me, even when they question why I would want to start a Doctoral Program at this point in my life!?!
  • GREAT friends, who also support me and push me to think about doing some even crazier things, like doing a mini-marathon (more on that another time!)


  • A job/career that I love!  Working as a Math Specialist/Teacher in elementary schools, I have the opportunity to support children who are struggling; extend students who need enrichment; and provide training and collaboration to fellow teachers.
  • A lifestyle that is continually evolving, as I attempt to live “mindfully” each day, thanks in large part of my daughter Abbie, at Farmer’s Daughter, and all my GREEN blogging friends out there, including you!  You all make me think so much!
  • Electronics that make my life so much easier—and more difficult at the same time!  Now that I’m so dependent on the Internet, my Blackberry, digital camera, etc., I don’t think I could live without them!
  • That the hope of spring is in the air, as the snow melts and warmer temps envelope us, new life emerges, in the green of plants and within animals on the farm.

For big things and small, I am so grateful.  Thanks for allowing me to count my blessings!

What are YOU feeling especially thankful for today?