Friday Photo: Children On My Mind


http://masonimages.com/

Sometimes as I’m moving around in my day, an image gets stuck in my head that I can’t shake. Sometimes it conjures up a memory, a feeling, or provides an impulse to do something. Often, though, I just see something that I want to capture in my mind for no particular reason-it just speaks to me. I’d like to offer these images up for ‘thought contributions’-as a way to generate a community of ideas together.


This week’s Friday Photo was taken about 9 years ago on a day much like today, when summer was ending and we were all moving and changing gears.  My uncle, Paul Mason, captured my children at a time in their lives when innocence was a daily state.  This week I’ve had many children on my mind…


What images of your children’s life are embedded in your mind?  I’d love to hear your thoughts – please start our conversation with a comment!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Family Favorites: Catch Our Baseball Fever

Over the years, our family has found quite a few cool things to do together-some pretty typical, some definitely not.  One of our family favorites is going to baseball games.

We spend huge amounts of time at the Little League Fields, and have learned so much about how adults and children learn from each other there (see my post ‘Speak Softy’ for more).  But during the summer when little league has settled down, we still have a baseball urge to fill.  Our local AAA team is where we head.  The Sacramento Rivercats play at Raley Field in West Sacramento, CA, as the minor league team for the Oakland A’s, and are the closest way to watch live professional baseball.  We like to go several times each summer-it’s an inexpensive, relaxing way to spend an evening (or afternoon-but around here in the summer that can be HOT!). 

Last weekend my son and I jumped into the car and drove about 20 minutes to the ball field.  Traffic was heavy, and parking was worse.  Just as I was about to give up, a welcome sight came before us: an unknown parking lot!  My little Prius found an out of the way spot, and we trekked on foot towards the stadium armed with blankets and full of anticipation.

We arrived early enough to pick up our tickets from will call, and my son sprinted inside towards the lawn where kids hang out in hopes of nabbing an autograph or two from one of the players as they warm up.  Sadly, no one was signing, but we did find a spot on the grass big enough to spread out  and settle in.  Families surrounded us on the lawn, laughing and happy as the game begins.

Minor league fields are tiny compared to those of the ‘big leagues’-but that’s exactly what we like about it – and the cheap lawn seats offer the best, most intimate views!  Kids run, wiggle, cheer and scamper for foul balls in a way that would be impossible in a major league stadium like A T & T Park, home to the S.F. Giants, or The Coliseum where the Oakland A’s play.  There, we feel like trapped animals waiting for the herd to be released.  At Raley Field, kids can imagine themselves out on the field, playing with the big guys.  They know that with hard luck and a bit of work, the Rivercats’ players will be moved up, living out their dreams.

But the best part of all, for me, is the time I spend with my son.  Sitting side by side, talking, laughing, and shelling peanuts I learn all sorts of things about him-like how he likes it when I act goofy (he really said that), and how at 11 years old he still enjoys using his mom as a backrest to snuggle against.  We didn’t catch any foul balls, and the Dinger Dog machine didn’t shoot any flying hot dogs our way that night.  But as the game ended and the fireworks blazed for the last time, I thought about how lucky I am to be living in this moment with him, and hope that when he grows up, he will make baseball games a family favorite, too.  Remember-it’s not which team wins or loses, only that you ‘catch’ the game that counts.

So next time you’re wondering what to do on a warm summer evening, why not create some memories and take in a minor league ball game?  Snuggling under the bright lights with your family is a pretty powerful thing.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Playground Paradise

When my kids were little, trips to the playground were a must. Their energy expenditure was critical to my ability to make it through the day sanely, and I’m sure that they benefited from not only the fresh air and exercise, but from the time to play and explore. After they were dressed, the stroller was packed with snacks, dig toys and a beach towel, we would head off on foot to one of the many kid friendly areas in our neighborhood. One of their favorites was the ‘The Grandma Penny Park”.

This park had all the prerequitsites for toddler paradise: a climbing structure, swings, a slide, soft woodchips to land on and best of all, the merry go round.  For kids who needed to test their boundaries and get their wiggles out, this was heaven.  For moms, the shady bench in close proximity to the playground was a perfect place to observe-just far enough away to give the kids some freedom, yet close enough to catch them when the fell.  And they always did.  I was there to scoop them off, brush off the woodchips, pull out splinters, offer sippy cups full of juice, and swallow a few Goldfish crackers before testing their courage all over again.  Cries of ‘Watch this, Mom’ resonated throughout the park nearly every second as my babies tested their balance, speed and courage.  Playmates screamed, laughed and occasionally argued over who was going down the slide first or who got more ‘under doggies’ on the swing.
Once elementary school began, life was so much more structured.  The “Grandma Penny Park’ was visited less and less, as t-ball, gymnastics, karate, rock climbing gyms and play dates because locations of paradise.  Occasionally we would stop by to take a quick swing or spin, but the twice daily trips to the playground became a thing of the past.  Energy was now expended in a more focused manner.  Shouts of ‘Mom, check this out!’ caught my attention as my children back flipped, tucked, and shimmied down every imaginable object.  Gone were the splinters and sippy cups, replaced instead with rope burns, blisters, bruises and Gatorade.  Hurt feelings from learning how to navigate friendships were soothed with hugs, talks and mommy time.

These days, trips to the playground are virtually non-existent.  Teens and preteens are much more likely to find their paradise  ‘hanging out’ with friends downtown, at the pool or bowling alley, or gulping down a Starbucks Frappuccino before shopping. Trying to hang onto the innocence of childhood becomes a balancing act between their quest for independence and my thirst to hang on to childhood.  Statements of ‘Can I hang out with my friends’ frequented our conversations.  Squeezing in the family vacations before college became our mission.  So many places to visit, things to teach them, and experiences we want to have as a family.

When we recently stumbled upon Fern Canyon, we were thrilled to watch our kids run, jump, swing and spin in nature’s playground.  Gone were the iPods, cell phones, playmates and Facebook connections.  Instead, our kids rediscovered their childhood pleasures among the fallen trees, dripping waterfalls and trickling stream.  Wooden board bridges offered just enough stability to cross back and forth while presenting them opportunities to test their boundaries.  Many times I called out, ‘Be careful” as one child scampered too high up a fallen log, or came close to soaking his only pair of shoes.  Declarations of, ‘Watch this!” echoed down the canyon as he darted from one wet rock to another, making it safely every time.  There were no swings, slides, or sippy cups in sight, just a mom, a dad and two kids creating their own bliss.
What I’ve learned is that all of us need to find our own paradise.  Sometimes we need  the structure of other people or events, and sometimes it takes the apparatus of a structure, or the companionship of friends.  Sometimes, though, all we need is our imagination and the opportunity to unleash it.
What I’m still learning is  how far away to watch, and how fast I need to rush in when they fall, as they always do.  I’m learning when to hug, when to wipe the tears, and when to stand back and let them handle it on their own.  Paradise found.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Friday Photo: Beacons

Sometimes as I’m moving around in my day, an image gets stuck in my head that I can’t shake. Sometimes it conjures up a memory, a feeling, or provides an impulse to do something. Often, though, I just see something that I want to capture in my mind for no particular reason-it just speaks to me. I’d like to offer these images up for ‘thought contributions’-as a way to generate a community of ideas together.

This week’s Friday Photo was taken a few months ago, on a special ‘girl’s weekend’ road trip I take every year with four of my most favorite women.  Each of them brings different gifts to my life:  humor, wisdom, insightfulness, and compassion.  I haven’t seen these ladies at all this summer, and I guess I’m missing them!  I know that like this lighthouse, they are shining beacons of friendship in my life.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this ‘Beacons’ photo- please leave me a comment! 

What image do your friends bring to mind?  What gifts do they give to you?

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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mamawolfe received The Versatile Blogger Award today!

Wow! I’m certainly honored to win The Versatile Blogger award today from Why We Love Green!  My first bloggy award!  Thank you!
Why We Love Green is a great blog about saving money while saving the earth. This blogger loves to try out and support natural and organic products and make lifestyle changes that will benefit future generations. She also loves to find a good deal. Going green does not have to be expensive! Be sure to check it out!
A few things you may not know about mamawolfe:
1.  I’m married and have two children, and live in the town I grew up in.  I like it here much more as an adult than I did as a child-boring then = safe place to raise children now!
2. I’ve been teaching junior high for 20 years and I LOVE IT!  They always surprise me, and I usually come home really feeling like I earned my paycheck every day!  I think that’s how I was dubbed ‘mamawolfe’!
3.  I teach at the junior high I attended.  It was a little spooky at first, but then I realized it was actually very cool to voluntarily come back to a place I was pretty eager to leave…
4.  My dog’s name is Cola-if you speak Spanish, you’ll know what that means.  It’s not about the soft drink!  My kids named him that because his tail is one of his most distinguishing features!
5.  I’m passionate about education, especially in developing countries.  I think everyone has the right to be educated.  I’ve worked with a non-profit to build and establish a Nicaraguan sister school with my junior high, and enjoy watching kids in both cultures learn from each other.
6.  I spend a lot of time in the kitchen-my kids and I love to bake and cook, and my husband loves eating!  I think cooking together really expands a child’s palate, and makes meals much more interesting!
7.  I think a little bit of chocolate and a lot of coffee every day is a very good thing.  Enough said.
I would like to congratulate the outstanding bloggers below, who I have selected for the next Versatile Blogger Award.  They’re some of my favorite reads!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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