Miss Night's Marbles

Musings, mumbles, marvels, and sometimes mockery, live from kindergarten.

Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.

Sweet Baby Jesus, you guys, we need a little laughter around here, don’t we? Or at least some smiles, right? Ok, here are some things that are working for me:

  • Skip is currently asleep in my lap, sporting the royal blue Snuggie that my mom gave him for Christmas last year. Come on, admit it – a chihuahua in a Snuggie is FUNNY.
  • Really, in my family, animals in clothes are ALWAYS funny. Proof of this can be found in the Christmas cards I selected for my loved ones while at the store last night.
  • A colleague announced her much-wanted, and perfectly timed (due in August) pregnancy yesterday. She is a adorable and hilarious, and produces adorable smart children (based on the 2 year old version she already has.)
  • Last night, at Fancy Birthday/Christmas dinner with the girls, I ate bison Wellington, which made me feel fancy, festive, and perfectly Canadian, all at once.
  • While at dinner, the stupid Christmas Shoes song came on, and I DID NOT CRY.
  • I decorated my blog for Christmas, and while I am normally not in favour of such ridiculousness, I am sort of loving the Christmas lights, and falling snow, and pop up Christmas card. Am sincerely hoping you all will just enjoy it and not find it annoying. It’s only for a few days, I promise.
  • You know what? Even if you hate it, I’m not sure I care. Sometimes, Christmas is tacky and annoying, with a wide variety of opinions on the difference between “fun & festive” and “cheesy & terrible” and THAT IS WHAT MAKES THE WORLD GO ROUND. This year, blog decorations are floating my boat. It’s my blog and I will subject you to pop-up holiday wishes if I want to. AND YOU WILL LIKE IT.
  • Santa left hot chocolate for my class on Thursday, and I got video of their reactions. I wish I could share some of it, so you could all see how perfect their belief in magic is. They are hilarious, these kiddos. You’ll have to trust me on that.
  • My hair got cut yesterday, and I am no longer at risk of shaving it all off myself. My girlfriends gave me a new, beautiful wallet, for my birthday.

I know, this is sort of a throwaway post, but we needed SOMETHING to change the atmosphere around here. I am not All Better, far from it. I am still achy and prickly; the covering over my FEELINGS is tissue-paper thin. You know how, in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (the amazing book, not the okay movie) Oskar refers to having “heavy boots” ? Yeah, that is how I feel sometimes – weighed down, slow-moving. BUT: my holidays have started; Winter Solstice has happened, and while the light may not be WINNING yet, at least it is evenly matched with the darkness. Christmas is in 3 days, and my brother and I will be together for the first time in years. My dad will be back from Texas any minute. My house smells like the odd assortment of scented candles I received as a gift (Winter Evergreen competing with Maple Pancake).

And under the tree, there is this:


Christmas Day is in our grasp, as long as we have hands to clasp.



10 hours at school today, folks, TEN. HOURS. This is the closest I have come to blowing off this whole NaBloPoMo thing and not posting. You all can thank my lovely friends @learningmurd and @mllekathleen for keeping me motivated (largely using flattery – it will get you everywhere, it seems.)

I have so many posts in the works to share with you all, and am so grateful you are sticking with me until I get to the good stuff. Tonight, for you, a list of Miss Night’s Coming Attractions:

  • By popular request, in response to my post about behaviour charts: a description of how I manage behaviour in my room, and how I build a climate where kids understand the difference between “fair” and “equal.”
  • A “clasroom hacks” post, where I share the tips and tricks that make my life infinitely easier within the 4 walls of my classroom. I remain unsure whether these things are proof of brilliance or clinical laziness…
  • The scoop on my calendar wall (as seen in the pic from yesterday’s post) and why I did away with the traditional “calendar routine.” You know the one. You’ve done it, too. In the meantime, check out my friend Mardelle’s (aka @learningmurd) post about HER changes to how she “does” calendar in her room.
  • The story of the one and only year I used a behaviour chart in my room. This is a tough one for me, friends. I am not proud of the decisions I made. Please help me remember what my friend Diana always says: “when you know better, you do better.”
  • Another story (you know I love stories, right?) about me, as a first grader, and how I responded to a classroom management system that my teacher had painstakingly devised. (Hint: that look on my face in my profile pic? Pretty sure that look was involved.)
  • A letter to parents of my students — past, present, and future – who may stumble across this blog and be sure what to feel about their child’s teacher airing her dirty laundry for all the world to see.

So you see? I do have so many wonderful things planned for you, so please stick around. If you have particular requests for which of these posts you would like to read first, hit me in the comments!

One more question, just to see if you are still listening: if I were to do an “ask Miss Night” and/or an “Ask Miss Night’s Readers” deal once in a while, where I asked you to submit questions, and then answered them and/or asked you all to share your thoughts in the comments, would you like that? Would you DO it, and ASK QUESTIONS, and COMMENT, and SHARE?

Because I think that would be super-fun.

That is all. It is time for chocolate milk and Chopped, with the chihuahua.


What they hear coming over the fields*


That little guy over there? Yeah, that’s my dog, Skip. Yes, like the movie, although that’s not where I got his name from. His name, chosen by my first class at That School, came from the Skippyjon Jones books, a particular favourite in our classroom that year.

I know lots of people don’t like chihuahuas. I didn’t either, until my friend Lauren got one for her daughter, and I fell in love with that teeny-weeny-black-and-white ray of sunshine named Lola. When I finished grad school, my mom said that her gift to me was a dog, of my choice, when I was ready. A year later, I picked a 10-week-old, 1 pound Skip up from his breeder. (For the record, his breeder is GREAT, raising beautiful healthy dogs with great care and knowledge.)

I never wanted (and I try really hard not) to be one of those crazy chihuahua women. Skip doesn’t travel in a purse, he walks on a leash. I don’t dress him up in outfits, but he does have sweaters for our Canadian winters. No rhinestone collars — he has a cool, sturdy, comfortable, harness for walks and adventures. He loves to be outside, lounging in the sun or charging up a trail. He can hike for hours through forests and up hills and across creeks (he even started swimming this summer), although he gets a little nervous in really tall grass. Who can blame him? I’d be scared, too, in grass that was 3 times as tall as me. He retrieves like a… well, like a retriever, and will drop his toys at your feet and whine until you throw them. He is cautious, but NEVER aggressive with new people. He only barks  if he thinks there is an intruder in whatever area he has deemed to be our home. He loves blueberries and will paw at me for a bite of an apple.

I’m not going to turn this post into a narrative of my dog’s health issues, but the relevant facts are that, when he was a year old, Skip started having seizures, and the effectiveness of the usual anti-seizure drugs has been moderate-to-poor for him. After 3 years of working with my regular vet to control his episodes, she referred me to  a specialized dog neurologist. (As in a neurologist FOR dogs, not a neurologist who IS a dog, because I’m sure you needed that cleared up.) I was happy to pay for the consultation, but I knew in advance that the diagnostic tools he would likely recommend were beyond my means. My financial resources for dealing with this are not bottomless.  We saw the neurologist last week. As I expected, he strongly recommended an MRI, and possibly a spinal tap.  This came to a couple of thousand dollars worth of tests, with no guarantee that they would show anything meaningful. I don’t have a couple of extra thousand dollars laying around. The doctor’s words were gentle and simple: “Go home. Decide what you CAN afford to get a diagnosis, and what you can afford for ongoing treatment. Call me tomorrow. We will work something out. I feel like I can help your dog. This is not about the money.”

His words, when shared with my mom, prompted her to offer further generosity: a gift of however much money was necessary to bridge the gap between my funds and what the vet could offer. It’s really hard, as a 30-something professional, to accept money from your mom.

I cried at the vet’s office (they must be used to that, right?), and at my mom’s offer. I cried again when I accepted this gift from both of them. I’m crying more as I write this, at the end of a long day spent waiting to hear that Skip had gotten through both tests and the associated anesthesia.  I cried on the phone when the vet said that all follow-up appointments will be free of charge. I am so…  Grateful isn’t a big enough word for this one. I am (and have always been) grateful for the little, still-slightly-stoned, dog currently dozing in my lap. But this gift (which, more than likely, will bring a diagnosis which will lead to fewer seizures AND fewer drugs for my little partner in crime)… I don’t have the words.

So, over here, where I posted about how hard it is to accept generosity, THIS is what I was talking about. This has been a tough one, to let 2 people — one a virtual stranger, and one who loves me most in the world — give me something that, strictly speaking, is not a necessity.

So, I’m breathing deep, saying lots of thank-yous, and trying to remember that generosity is easy to GIVE – when I am generous, I MEAN it, I WANT to do it, I WANT the other person to accept. I have to trust that this is equally true, for my mom and this amazing guardian angel of a vet.

Because Skip and I have lots more adventures waiting for us.

*Dogs and Thunder, by Sarah Harmer