The Cane

In the middle of difficulties lies opportunity. ~Albert Einstein

I have been walking with a cane for the past week, and it has really given me a new perspective on life. My ailment has yet to be diagnosed after four chiropractor appointments, a trip to Urgent Care, one hip x-ray, a visit to the orthopedic doc, and an MRI.  In full disclosure, the MRI was just last night, so I should give it a little more time.

But that is only one frustration.  Using a cane is tricky if you want to do it properly – making sure that the correct leg moves with the cane.  Everything is so much more complicated with the cane.  I usually carry my purse on my left shoulder, but that is almost impossible with a cane in my left hand.  I am use to carry bags like a pack mule or an octopus. Now I need to make more trips with less in my hands.

I am sure I have a lot more to write on this topic, but I am too tired to collect the rest of my thoughts.  Then I think to myself – how tired those who have real disabilities are at the end of every day?  I take so much for granted.  What opportunity is this situation  handing me?

‘Tis the Season

“Music replays the past memories, awaken our forgotten worlds and make our minds travel.”
― Michael Bassey Johnson


‘Tisols the season to be jolly…easier said than done. It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of preparing for the holiday season that you don’t even stop to enjoy it. This was me last week. It was the end of the grading period, and I had a ton of grading to get finished. That coupled with me over-extending myself as usual was a recipe for high anxiety!

Music came to the rescue! My sister, sister-in-law, and I spent a lovely evening at the assisted living facility where my mom now lives. It was their tree-lighting event, and they had invited families to join residents for a sing-a-long and refreshments.

I had stopped and bought a Santa hat and an elf hat, so that my mom had a choice of accessories. She wore Santa; I wore the elf. Although my mom was already dressed for bed when we arrived at 6:00 PM, we got her out of her pjs and into a Christmas sweatshirt complete with a jingle bell necklace. We told her we were going out, and she just came along for the ride….literally. We took her down in her wheelchair so she didn’t have to make the long trek down with her walker.

Once we were all gathered in the Garden Room, the song leaders began the sing-a-long, and that’s when the magic happened. Looking around the room you could see one elderly resident after another joining in the singing. These are women and men who couldn’t tell you what they ate for lunch that day, or how to get back to their rooms, yet they were singing those Christmas songs word for word. Mom was having a great time singing and clapping along to the music. She even rang her jingle bell necklace at appropriate times! I don’t think she missed one word.

The brain is a funny thing. It can fail us on many levels as we age, yet it holds so many memories that are ingrained and cannot be forgotten – song being one of them. It was so good to see Mom enjoying herself along with the other residents. It was a glimpse of the mom I knew from so many previous holiday seasons.

So this Christmas may not be perfect. My house may not be magazine worthy. My cards may not get out right on time. I may even forget something on my “to do” list. That’s OK. I will be remembering the simplicity of that sing-a-long, and I will remind myself to enjoy the little things along the way – a child’s face when seeing Santa, time to curl up with a Christmas book, listening to the beautiful songs of Christmas, or maybe that cup of cocoa. And it all started with a visit to Mom!




Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.  ~Langston Hughes


It began as a gentle shower,
barely needing an umbrella for cover.
It steadily grew stronger and stronger
until torrential sheets were sweeping
across the roof.

Safe inside
I don’t mind the rain.
Its song is rhythmic,
Soothing and cleansing.

I close my eyes and
let the rain’s song wash over me
as I begin to let go

Of worries that creep to mind,
Of ailments that plague me,
Of things I cannot control.

As the rain nourishes
the parched ground
I allow it to expunge my worries
and nurture my soul.

Thanksgiving in School

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. ~ William Arthur Ward

Three days before Thanksgiving
Means the school week will be short.
Waking up on Monday morning
I am a happy carefree sort.
I got to school early
With papers to copy
I cleaned up my desk
So it wasn’t so sloppy.
I headed to morning meeting
Feeling ready to go
But got some bad news
Something I needed to know.
My prep period is gone
The librarian is sick
The week isn’t starting
The way I would pick!
No need to despair
I can count on the kids
To make me smile
With their funny bizz
They were working on poems
Of Thanksgiving cheers
They were so funny
They brought me to tears!
So when I count my blessing
Before stuffing my face
I will be sure to be thankful
That I work at such a great place!


Haunted House Build – Take 2



Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. ~ Helen Keller

The haunted house build is complete, and it was a huge success!  The kids were engaged each day of the build without much redirection needed from me. (Well you always have a few!) The students presented their houses to the class yesterday and explained why they design certain features in their homes.  One house even had a witch who “flew” down from the roof on straws and landed seated in a chair.  So cool!

The kids are finishing up their personal reflections about the process and the product.  I can’t wait until Thursday to read them.  This makes me want to find a way to use Project Based Learning more often in my ELA classroom.  I am just not sure how or what to do next?  I will keep thinking though.

Please take a look at my iMovie documentation of the process.



A Mother’s Love

Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever. ~Unknown

October is a month filled with birthdays in my family.  I have two nieces, two grand-nieces, a dear departed sister-in-law and father-in-law, two significant others of family members, my daughter, and myself who all celebrate October birthdays – a fall frenzy.

Last week, another little soul joined the party.  My third grandchild, Isabella Marie, came into this world on October 19th.  She shares a birthday with one of my nieces, and one of my grand-nieces, and we now have a trifecta in our immediate family.  Isabella on the 19th, me on the 20th, my daughter, Angela on the 21st.  What a wonderful birthday present I received this year!

When I left the hospital on Wednesday night after seeing Isabella for the first time, I had an overwhelming urge to visit my own mother.  I knew exactly what I was going to do!  

I left school exactly at 3:15 on Thursday and headed to Yum Yum donuts.  I picked up two pumpkin donuts on the way over to the assisted living facility that my mom now calls home. I knew that she would not remember that it was my birthday, but that didn’t matter.  We were going to celebrate anyway.  

Mom was surprised to see me as she always is these days.  I told her about Isabella and showed her pictures of our newest sweetheart.  She asked me to tell her over again, and again, and again.  So I did. She wanted so much to grasp exactly what I was saying. She apologized for not remembering my birthday.  It didn’t matter.  I laughed when she told me that she thought I was 39!  I haven’t seen 39 in quite awhile.

When I saw the love between my son and daughter-in-law and their two daughters, I was reminded of just how strong a mother’s love is.  Mothers have to be strong to give life, to nurture life, to let life go its own way.

Thanks Mom, for giving me life, for nurturing me through life, for letting my life go its own way.  

But most of all, thank you for showing me how to celebrate life everyday!


Haunted Mansions


We just need to make that building come alive.  Together, we can figure this out. ~Sue Black

Today my ELA classes began a two-week adventure.  They started their Haunted Mansion STREAM build.  Each group of students received a Halloween Character and a box of various items.  They are working in teams to design and build a mansion by following the engineering process while documenting their process in writing.  

The room was buzzing with energy and ideas.  They perused my “shop” and looked at what they might “buy” with the Haunted House “cash” that they have earned over the past couple of weeks. Students will have another class period on Thursday to finalize their plans, then the actual build begins on Monday. What a joy it was to listen to the kids interact with each other. This is a lesson in creativity, cooperation, and collaboration. I will check in again next week and let you know how the process is going.  You can follow us on Twitter @RitaDiCarne.