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 . . . .

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Bursting with Pride! March 28, 2009

It’s not a secret that Abbie over at Farmer’s Daughter is my daughter in real life!  That being said, can I brag just a little?

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Abbie was recently recognized as a “Woman Taking the Lead to Save our Planet” by the League of Women Voters.   She was honored at a  reception where she was lauded for all her efforts in Environmental Education as well as how she lives her everyday life as a role model for her students, family, and community.  Read all about by clicking here.

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I couldn’t help but notice that,  of the small group of six women honored, Abbie was by far the youngest.  Other recipients were about twice her age, so I can’t help but think this is just the beginning of great things for Abbie!  So proud of you, honey!

 

“One Green Thing” # 6-10 March 15, 2009

OK, I must admit it’s bit a “helluva” week at school/work with long days and late nights with meetings, presentations, and courses;  plus submitting our students to the second week of standardized testing; etc., etc., which has left me very little time left for blogging!

During that time, I did update my school/educational blog, so if you’re interested in what students I’ve coached in ExploraVision have accomplished;  Roxy the “reading dog;” or what’s new in mathematical theory go there by clicking here.

Which is why my aim to post “One Green Thing” each day has fallen by the wayside.  So, I’ve got some catching up to do.  Here goes . . .

ONE GREEN THING # 6:  RECYCLE SOMETHING!

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I’m now a pretty faithful “curb-side” recycler (as my town has weekly trash & recycling pick-up) with items likes cans, bottles, and newspapers, but I know there’s so much more I can do (like NOT buying these items in the first place!)  Although I regularly enjoy good, old-fashioned tap water from my stainless steel/reusable bottle, my DH has a favorite, cranberry drink that he just loves!  He’s also a bit old-fashioned in that he likes perusing the newspaper in the am or pm or whenever he has a chance, which brings me to green thing # 7.

ONE GREEN THING # 7:  GET THE NEWS ONLINE!

I’m okay with doing a quick review of anything news-worthy online, so I’ve cut down on newspapers somewhat.  I recently learned that our home-town newspaper is joining the effort to “Save the Planet by GOING GREEN” by encouraging academic subscriptions to have students use the E-paper daily instead of the printed version.

Here are the facts:

  • Every ton of paper that is recycled saves 17 trees
  • To produce any Sunday newspaper, each week 500,000 trees must be cut down
  • If all newspapers were recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year
  • Get more facts by clicking here.

ONE GREEN THING # 8:  PAY BILLS  ONLINE!

I’ve been doing this for a while now, paying as many bills as I can online, and setting up others in the format.  I find it’s much easier and quicker to get the job done (with a click of the mouse); to stay current (as some accounts can be set up to pay automatically); and there’s no need to search for envelopes, stamps, etc! 

Lots of paper saved and probably better for your credit score, too!

ONE GREEN THING #9:  PLANT SOMETHING GREEN!

St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally when people in our parts think about getting peas in the ground.  If you can’t plant outside yet, why not bring something green inside?  My all-time favorite way to welcome in spring is with pansies!  They add a splash of color–outside or in–and can even withstand a frost, if there’s still that possibility, as there is here in New England!

Plus, plants give off oxygen!

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ONE GREEN THING #10: GROW SOMETHING ORGANICALLY!

I attended an Organic Gardening Workshop yesterday with my daughter at our local Garden Center and I’m going to try to employ more organic gardening principals this year in my favorite flower gardens!

Although these organic practices were mostly “old hat” to Abbie, here are some good ideas I came away with:

  • Everything starts with the soil and gardening success come from building the soil biology, so I may try some soil testing this year.
  • Choose native plants for best results.
  • Make sure you choose the right plant for the right place or it just takes more work on the gardener’s part.
  • 90% percent of insects are actually beneficial (like bees, flies, ants, etc. for pollination and ladybugs, which attack aphids), so be sure to positively identify “pests” before trying to irradicate them.
  • Organic mulch not only mimics natural soil cover (like holding moisture), it also adds organic material to the soil.
  • Try physical and biological control of pests before using chemicals, i.e., row covers for physical barriers and the afore-mentioned ladybugs, etc.

Here are some great resources for more organic gardening info:

  1. Northeast Organic Farming Association (NOFA) @ www.ctnofa.org
  2. Organic Gardening Magazine @ www.organicgardening.com
  3. People, Places & Plants Magazine (with a New England Focus) @ www.ppplants.com

I’ll keep you posted on  how these  organic gardening endeavors work out!

 

“Michelle Obama Arms” March 2, 2009

Filed under: Fashion,In the News — everydaywomanusa @ 9:22 am
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I guess I wasn’t the only one who noticed our first lady’s now trademark bare arms at last week’s presidential address.  I remarked to my husband that she was dressed a bit informally with “no sleeves,” while others had jackets and ties on.  Also, it’s winter!

Now, it’s a cause for debate.  While checking the weather this morning, I heard Michelle’s bare arms being discussed on ABC news and it’s all over the Internet.  I say, if you have it, flaunt it!  At least, it’s not cleavage!  I’m just wondering if  someday “Michelle Obama arms” will have a place in history just like “Bette Davis eyes?”

What’s your take on the “right to bare arms?”