Archive for August, 2008


Hooked, aka my first week as a Montessori teacher

August 9, 2008

Mischievous and impish, little 3 year-old Johnny ran across the classroom, delighted with his new-found ability to piss me off.  I walked after him.

“Johnny, please show me how we walk in the classroom.”  He looked at me quizzically, took three steps, and then took off running again.  I sighed and went after him.

“Johnny, we don’t run in the classroom.  Let’s walk together.”  I took his hand but he darted off across the room before I could show him how to walk.  Another sigh.  Thus goes a morning in a new Montessori classroom, but then…

Johnny and several other children lined up to go to the bathroom.  We walked out of the classroom and down the hall, with Johnny scampering after the group.  “Johnny, please come back and walk,” I called out.  Of course, Johnny ignored me and dashed into the bathroom, where he proceeded to horseplay with a couple of boys.

I took his hand and sternly marched him out of the bathroom.  His eyed widened like saucers as I squatted to his eye level.

“Johnny, this is not a game.  The bathroom is not for playing, do you understand?”  He nodded silently.  “Please go back inside and wash your hands.”  He turned and walked into the bathroom to do what I had asked him.  Then he came back out.  I smiled as an idea flitted through my worn-out brain.

“Oh,” I exclaimed in my most dramatic voice. “It would make me SO HAPPY if Johnny could walk all the way to the classroom by himself like a big boy.  Do you think you could do that?”

Johnny’s eyes lit up.  A challenge!!  He turned towards the classroom and walked slowly, calmly, and with utmost control for 60 feet.  I watched him fade into the shadows of the hallway, my heart in my throat.  He turned right and disappeared into the classroom.  I held my breath.

Johnny’s head popped back out and he looked at me.  I grinned and gave him a silent thumbs-up.  He raised his little hand and returned the thumbs-up with a broad smile, before disappearing once again into the classroom.

In my list of moments that make life worth living, that’s in the top 5.  I’m hooked.


Countering Cooties

August 5, 2008

Last winter, during one of my teaching practices, I caught one of those super-bugs that seem to inhabit the bodies of pre-school children. Personally, I blame the excessive use of antibiotics by drug-pushing doctors for creating a host of super-viruses that will knock you out for an entire month. That, and little ones who will wipe their runny noses with their hand and then grab yours. Or my favorite:

Little boy with a cold: “Ms. L, can I tell you something?”

Me (squatting to the child’s eye level): “What do you want to tell me, Johnny?”

Boy: Ah-CHOO!! (saliva and mucus, right in my eye) “I love you.”


During that time, I was working with 24 pre-schoolers in the mornings, running my wedding planning business in the afternoons, managing the housework, and living in a house without heating (we live in San Diego, but it’s still cold!!). Stressful? Nah, you think? Oh, and did I mention I was addicted to Starbucks soy chais (yes, the ubber-sweet drink with 40 grams of immune system-depressing, bacteria-feeding sugar!!). Needless to say, this lifestyle was NOT conducive to warding off cooties, and one of them hit me… HARD.

I was sick for an entire month, and I normally NEVER get sick! Do you know what it’s like to drag your aching, stuffy body out of bed day after day to deal with 4-year old trantrums during the day and 24-year old tantrums during the afternoon? I would not wish that kind of suffering on anyone, not even George W. Bush. (Well, maybe…)

So, this year I am pulling out all the stops in my quest to remain healthy during the bug season!! Bring on the snotty, sneezing, coughing children… They’re no match for my arsenal of natural preventions!

Here’s my plan of action:

  • Every morning I’m drinking a tablespoon of unfiltered apple cider vinegar (with the “mother”). It really doesn’t taste bad at all! I dilute it in 1/3 cup of water and drink it on an empty stomach. It is supposed to alkalize your body, which means that it creates an environment where bad bacteria cannot grow. Oh, and it has the added benefits of lowering my appetite, curbing my sweet cravings, preventing yeast infections, and helping me to lose weight!
  • I’m also taking a 1,000 mg capsule of Norwegian cod liver oil. It is supposed to prevent depression (a huge cause of immune system suppression) and it provides vitamin D, which strengthens the immune system (especially during the winter, when you get less exposure to the sun).
  • Every morning, I also take a serving of green superfood, a powder composed of grasses (wheat grass, barley, oat grass, etc.), seaweeds (spirulina), green vegetables (broccoli, spinach, etc.), antioxidants, fiber, live enzymes and probiotic cultures, and energizing herbs. While the green concoction looks positively evil in the glass, it tastes quite pleasant and provides me with an amazing amount of energy!!
  • I’ve kicked the chai tea habit and I’m permitting myself only two soy lattes a month. And no pastries!
  • Finally, I am taking meditation and yoga classes to learn breathing and stress-management techniques that also help build a strong immune system.

WHEW!! If all this (plus my normal organic, dairy-free, plant, grain and wild fish-based diet) doesn’t shield me from the cooties (or at least shorten their stay in my body), then I give up!!

The lady at the cash register who rang up the green superfoods powder did a double-take when she saw the price on her screen. “Forty-seven dollars?!?!”, she asked, her eyes popping out of their sockets. I nodded, “Yes, and worth every penny.” (I hope!)

What natural cures do YOU use to prevent or shorten your battle with cooties? I need all the advice I can get!


How to make two years fly by

August 1, 2008

What happens when you get offered a teaching job in Italy? Well, if you’re me, you sit your boyfriend down and have the dreaded “where is this relationship going” talk. Which is precisely what I did a couple of months ago. I told him about the job offer in Italy, and explained that what I wanted was to work in San Diego for two years and start a family during my third year of teaching. And if he didn’t agree… Well, I was off to Italy!

And wouldn’t you know it, he agreed with my timeline! YIPEE!!

But then it hit me… Two years? I still have to wait two more years??? What torture!

Then, I realized I could approach this in one of two ways: I could sit around and mope because I still had to wait two years, or I could make a list of all the things I won’t be able to do (or which will seem overwhelming) once I have a kid. And do them.

And so, I present to you:

Things to do before I get knocked up

1. Train for and complete another 50-mile bike ride.

2. Learn how to kelp dive.

3. Take ballet classes.

4. Save and invest $10,000.

5. Run a half-marathon race.

6. Write a book about Montessori for parents.

7. Grow my classroom to 36 students.

8. Get married (I need a little help with this one).

9. Learn all I can about Montessori for 0-3 year-olds.

10. Take a French conversation course.

11. Learn how to meditate. For reals.

12. Go to India and spend a summer working in a Montessori school.

All of a sudden, two years doesn’t seem like a lot of time! I’d better get started!!!