Celebrating Mothers

The day started, like any other Sunday. A light breakfast of bagel cream cheese and a few olives, washed down with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. The powdered chocolate from cocoa grown in the rain forests of Ghana. Pure, refined and slightly bitter. It was creamy and had a sweet aroma. I glanced at my phone and noticed I had many messages from all my cherished children and dear friends wishing me a, ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. I felt special. I had to share the feeling with my mothers, so I sent my mother-in-law and a few mentors messages of love and encouragement for this journey of parenting.

I then got ready for church, and remembered there was an event after lunch. I took my two choices of clothing with matching shoes and accessories, just in case one was not right.

After church, I stopped at my sister’s, joined the family for lunch and prepared for the Mother’s Day Garden-Tea Party. Many events in my life create images that stick and this was one of them. A colorful group of ladies, some familiar others not so familiar. We chatted and got acquainted with each other before settling down to a menu of delights. The youthful band surprised us with familiar music that sounded so perfect and mellow. It is only when you actually turned to see the band that you realized the music was live.

Meanwhile the setting was just extraordinary. Tables of two, four six and more had been set. With waiters at our beck and call. Mother’s being pampered. The garden was plush, I have grown to appreciate plants and ‘greenery’ so much. The garden had been cleverly nurtured, with a hut-like thatched roof of green palm branches. There was a mix of realistic looking artificial flowers for the décor, however there were beautifully colored roses as the center pieces on the plushly laid tables.

When we found our table, ‘Peach Tea’, none of the guests were seated. Soon after that, a few ladies joined us. The conversation started. The waiters served the most exotic tasting cold tea and kept refilling our glasses. They delivered the three courses on tiered servers. It seems scanty but definitely a delight to see and taste. It was filling, many choices, sweet and savory.

A remarkable experience. The sheer exuberance of the exquisitely dressed mothers or mothers to be. An escapade I am sure I will look forward to next year. Thanks to the organizers, like my children, this will live with me for a very long time.

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One Halo Here

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I’ve never seen anything like this.

Through the lens of the camera,

 I saw it, squinting

As the bright rays of the sun 

shot straight at my face.

I continued regardless, squinting

Someone had called my son

They had all seen the rare find

How did they know it was there?

Something so camouflaged that can be seen

only when a photograph is taken.

 

Everybody saw it

Interestingly they all took photographs of it.

Mine was a struggle as I was seeking perfection

A full circle

I had to take many shots of it.

 

So many questions were asked

I shared it with friends and was truly excited

I was hoping I would receive answers

Perhaps someone would figure out what this is.

Some called it an eclipse others said it was a halo.

 

The beautiful multi-coloured ring around the sun

Was just enchanting. 

The struggle to capture it was worth all the effort

The claim is that it was caused by thin clouds

Tiny crystals in the Earth’s atmosphere creates this

I am left with more questions than I started with

When will this appear again?

How will we know it is there?

 

Veiled by the cloud but caused by them

The clouds formed the halo as 

Particles of tiny ice crystals

Swept across the sun

The two Rs caused this;

Reflection and Refraction

Another Science lesson to be had.

 

New Everything

Almost forty students appeared on the screen, as soon as the waiting room was opened. Totally different from nervous students walking into a classroom. Excited, bubbly- looking, expectant students with smiles on their faces showed up for their first day at school. This time, the teachers were anxious, it seemed funny but that is how we felt.

I called it a roller coaster day, one that swept us up, down and everywhere. Soon after one lesson, there was another, no time to breathe, still online, expecting some good work, just like ‘real’ school.

When another teacher popped into my  Writing lesson it was just great, supportive and calming. I felt reassured as she observed a student not engaging and pointed it out to me. I suggested she confer with the student in the breakout room,  whilst I carried on with the whole class, that helped.

The lessons were interactive and Ms. A’s videos were the icing on the cake. So perfect, reiterating what was being taught.

This was a short day but seemed extremely long and tedious, I guess it is because there were many parts that were new. New format, new students, new parents and colleagues, new schedule and new role/title.  Overwhelming, if you ask me, but teachers can be resilient, this time a little unnerving with the added virtual teaching.

The nice surprise was my guest. Our principal popping in, she mentioned how smooth the lesson was, that was the fruit on the cake, this time.

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Welcome Crow

Welcome crow,

You are back again.

Your piercing caw disturbs me whilst I attend my Zoom meetings.

Are you with your friends?

The cawing sounds louder and closer.  There must be something on the mango tree that keeps inviting you. I am tempted to shut my window but that will block the light breeze.

How can I let you know you are disturbing?

When are you going to stop cawing?

I am considering moving my cluttered desk to a different spot in the house.

Hmmm, I am reluctant to do that though, maybe I will just shut the window and leave you to enjoy your space.

My Thoughts

This may be the beginning of my research about crows. Since COVID 19, I’ve been hearing many more crows, their screeches have become regular. I have many questions and believe my search for answers will lead me to a whole new world of  tropical birds .I am not sure if I am ready for that.

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Reminiscing

 

The warmth of the past

Refreshed in a way only 

You can experience here

in this space.

 

Not exactly memories

But an inexplicable peace

That surrounds you

With the sights and sounds

Of the past you behold.

 

Only you can drift into

That space

Where the beauty and

enjoyment of now is held.

 

Life can be beautiful when the past merges with ‘that’ now. The feeling you capture that you do not want to let go, but stretch till the day comes to an abrupt end when you revere that space.

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Home and Away

Through my teaching resource research, I discover many treasures, one of the best is Window Swap. Watching the videos transported me all around the world and back. I am an inquisitive learner,  an inquirer and this was really inspiring. I just love searching and finding. That is what I always want to wake up to, different challenges to my learning exploration that helps me thrive. This one was new and fresh, just like the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, filling my life and occupying that gap.   

Allowing a person to stay at one place whilst enjoying a different  environment. There really is something extraordinary in the exploratory feeling. Especially knowing that some places are similar to where you but still makes your environment still appealing. It actually reaffirms my love for where I am and entices me to be elsewhere at the same time. The push and pull of our lives.

Even the sounds I heard on the Window-Swap, were either captivating and reassuring or inviting and reminiscing. What also moved me is the domination of nature, beauty that has no bounds. This also applies to the other places not so close to home, but close enough to drive to. 

Where I am in Ghana, that would be the beaches. It is obvious we do not take enough advantage of the expanse of our beaches. The serenity it draws and the wonder of the whole environment. I am always stunned by the sea, shores, different creatures, shells, sand, the smells ,the saltiness of the sea and the breeze.

We live in a wonderful world.

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The Journey to Times Square

E is so relaxed these days and has her day organized to suit her. I tell her to write down her daily schedule so she has a balance but she always tells me, “Mum I know what I am doing.” A teenager in control, I guess! I leave her to organize her day. E loves to do many things, another newly discovered pride of hers is crocheting and I will write about that on another day. 

From day one, E, my middle schooler took this on, a seemingly out of character action. Covid19 has taught me a lot about my own children. The perseverance, resilience and determination to take on projects and see them through. E chose a puzzle from Amazon. The puzzle picture E selected on Amazon could not be sent to Ghana, so we chose our second option, a thousand piece puzzle that looked like the pieces would be bigger than what we received. In a rare moment of excitement, E just took over. I was fascinated as the puzzles we have completed before had much bigger pieces and were so much easier to put together.

This puzzle, however, seemed complicated to me. Times Square??? The colours, neon lights, fiddly details. I told my husband I can never start working on it without my glasses on. In my head I knew this would take weeks to complete. Some of the observations are very poignant and led me to think about my students and their capabilities, when they are given the choice to complete activities they enjoy. I thought about the reasons why we should allow them to come up with their own solutions or ways to complete tasks. This is making me really think about the different kinds of learners that come to us as teachers and how we have to embrace what they bring.

So, E took control and spent hours, daily fitting the ‘tiny dots’ together, that is how they seemed to me. Whenever I joined her she shooed me away not literally but subtly as she knew exactly what she was doing. Documenting her work by taking photographs helped me notice the development. 

Once I sat beside her, she asked,” Mum have you been to Times Square?”

I bragged I had been there every time I visited New York, and had experienced it both day and night.

E took fixing the puzzle very seriously, she had a plan, which I thought was or would be obvious, sort colors and have the picture open so you see each part all the time. Well I was wrong, she had the picture flung under the table or anywhere but open, which I thought was so surprising. Had she memorized the picture? Can you memorize a picture that is so detailed? What was she thinking whilst working? Sometimes she listened to a podcast or music so had earphones plugged in and would not even realise I was hovering.

This burst of ‘busyness’ happened over a period of two weeks. Until Dad took over and spent a couple of evenings sorting out the rest of the pieces. I realised he had a plan, he took the loose pieces out and laid them face up spending many minutes scrutinizing the picture with glasses on his face but still squinting in order to match the same coloured pieces he had sorted and stacked together tidily. 

With my teacher’s head on, I reminded myself that students have different learning styles. I appreciated the communal effort but wished E and her dad were working together all the time, maybe they could learn from each other. Dad must have popped in once or twice and made comments to encourage E, who thought, that’s not the way I work. So they seemed to end up taking turns.

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The puzzle is almost done, resembling how pieces of luxury chocolate cubes are enjoyed at different times. One day the whole piece will be finished and you’d wish another whole new block would appear. Through this observation I have learned a lot about E’s strategy or approach as a learner, her independence, risk-taking and thinking through the whole process. One of my observations left me thinking about her technique. She kept saying I have to finish with the Coca Cola sign and she did! She was actually setting small silent goals for herself, which it seems she achieved. Therefore perseverance does help and self-motivation too. Hopefully these traits will be applied or have been applied through her studies, but as a parent, I did not know this about my daughter.

 

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Birthdays These Days

We chose to take a local walk on Wednesday, last week. Mattie and I experienced an interesting scene.

On the pavement, not too far from my house, on our broad road, more like a boulevard, stood the birthday boy who had donned an all white outfit, a boubou and trousers, as we do on important occasions, in these parts. He was posing on the pavement with what seemed to be a young professional photographer, taking numerous shots of different poses. The photographer, rose and fell, seemed to duck and dive still taking shots of the posing birthday boy, all dressed up, like a father. That made us smile, he looked twenty years older than his eleven year old self. I am sure you are wondering how I know that.

I call the photographer professional because in his hand was a huge Nikon machine with more loose parts in a bag hanging across him. His body language and movements gave him away. He looked like he had been doing this job for a very long time.

The boy with coiffed hair neatly trimmed completed with shaved edges, held two huge silver ‘ones’. He looked proud and wore an unyielding smile that would not twitch. As we walked briskly past, in our put together sporting gear and oversized trainers, I started singing, “Happy birthday to you,” loudly. Mattie joined in. Suddenly, a lady emerged from the car across the wide road. Our voices must have drifted although our masks swallowed up half the volume. The photographer paused, we had interrupted his rhythm. He looked up upon hearing the sound and almost stumbled on the pavement. That break cut right into his theatrics.

Across the road, masked up in a very colourful face mask was a lady peeking over the open door and through the top of her large ‘four by four ‘vehicle. She had heard our shrill voices so waved at us, as thank yous would not have been heard or smiles seen. 

Covid 19 has impacted us all, this is what life has become, in some parts of the world, birthday celebrations for children which are normally vibrant and noisy occasions have turned into forced lone events that can be shared by sending solo photographs to friends and family.

Of course, the birthday boy had on his Sunday best for the downcast occasion. Mum I am sure had to pull a trick out of her bag to appease him, as none of his friends would or could be invited.

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Green

I see green all around me. This is because as my brother rightly put it, yesterday being my daughter’s birthday, we had a ‘party in paradise’.  A handful of us, it was just green. Covid 19 birthed the green fingered entrepreneur in my sister Ros. Stepping into Mama’s footsteps, Ros has created this paradise at my parents’ house. Yesterday we beat ourselves thinking how we all managed to neglect this paradise for over ten years since both parents passed and never thought to use the space for the many purposes it seems to be revealing to us now.

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Opportunities

In March when the world seemed to turned upside down, if I can put it this way, Ros with her experience of organizing events and presenting organisations to the world for other had become temporarily redundant. Her hobby or side job was to have her gardeners tend other people’s gardens. This was a side line that was brewing, Ros always talked about her endeavors and sometimes went plant or pot shopping. Oh, I forgot the trip to London last summer when she dragged us all to a world class flower show in the temperate heat. I now understand why the urge was so great, This was a trip of over two hours on the train to get to the Hampton Court Flower show. It was not in vain as we all , Ros, the children and I saw so much beauty in nature. I think that is when my conversion began.

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In Good Times and Bad

I believe we should uphold anything that life throws at us. Coincidentally, I am reading a biography that is so inspiring about life’s knocks, although the book has a religious twist it really resonates with what life is about. We have to be ready to face whatever life throws at us, shake it off and move on. The opportunity and time this lockdown or out of work period has given us is unearthing many areas in our lives that some of us may not know was present. Or maybe new interests are being exposed.

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Legacy

Walking around Green Gold gardens made me think about our actions and it’s enduring presence not only in our lives but in that of our children and the people around us. It is indeed a legacy, without a doubt and probably a profitable one too. If only Mama knew the passion that Ros has for her own love and what it has become or is becoming.

Nature

I also believe that green is a beautiful color. My first sofa was bottle green so was my curtain, actually custom made as I love the color so much.It also went very well with my parquet flooring. All of this green is majestic and even more enchanting when it is darker and creates an environment that can be indescribable. It is also probably because now the world or cities are full of concrete and nature is covered by permanent man made structures. Pushing aside habitats and creating either environmental or air pollution instead of the true nature of the Earth. Thankfully Ros found it in herself to use this ‘paradise’ that Mama had started planting over fifty years ago and develop it into this beauty that is emerging in just over three months.

Blessings have to be counted I believe and encouragement to be the word on our lips.

 

Pressing On For Me

I push me

I encourage me

I tell me

That I have to do it

I have to change me

By doing some things

I would never do

But this is the time

To drag me

To convince me

Into achieving

New and exciting

Things

I would have never done

for me.

 

This just came to me as I peeked into my 4th Graders’ poetry Padlet.

Can I call this a dream?

In bed last night, I tossed and turned. I remember clearly what I saw. My planner for today and what I had to teach my small math groups, online. 

Interestingly, from what I remember,  I may already have been teaching as I had students asking me clarifying questions. I am sure I drifted in and out of my supposed deep sleep because I kept convincing myself to wake up and write it all down, otherwise I’d forget what was going on. I wish I had because I seem to have been actually drafting my slice in my sleep. It sounded like poetry as there was some repetition and short lines, I felt it sounded really good but like a whiff of smoke, it drifted away. This does not happen to me often, but I am glad I remember parts of it. 

My lessons today are going quite well, but I remember my dream or thoughts at night and wonder why I took those thoughts to bed with me. Could I have been excited or anxious? We have introduced a new schedule so could that have been the reason?

I really should have woken up and written what I was thinking down. It would have been much clearer and recorded my train of thought. Perhaps that would have helped explain this dream.

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