meditation, spirituality, Uncategorized, writing

Why I’m a Christian. Worries. And Toilets.

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I have decided, encouraged by this post by Fractured Faith, and a week of contemplation thanks to glorious… oh so glorious… vacation… that I’m giving up worry.

It really makes sense. I mean, why did I get sober, or why do I believe that this God of mine died and rose from the dead if he wasn’t going to take care of me and all my concerns that really, in the end, I can’t control anyway?

Yup, it’s time to tell my negative thinking to take a hike. I mean, if you looked at me, with all my gazillion friends (I’m blessed) and happy go lucky attitude, you might think I had it all together. And on many fronts I do. But inside there is always a bit of restless discontent or anxiety. If I were a doctor, I’d call it a bit of OCD mixed with a bit of ADHD and a sprinkle of good old fashioned neurotic wiring.

But I’m not a doctor. But I do know this: When I sleep, eat, laugh and connect with my friends, family and God, sometimes my little anxious friend goes away. Hey, I have an idea: Why don’t I just do that! Connect and laugh every day!

Not taking myself so seriously means quite a few things for my ego, though. Poor little ego. This shame thriller doesn’t get to invade my present with its insistence on dwelling on the past or the future. It means:

  • I’m not going to overthink if I’m a good enough Christian for not believing everything I read hook line and sinker in the Bible. (Yup, I worry about that.)
  • I’m not going to worry that I like meditating more than I like doing memorized prayers from my childhood. (Yup, I worry about that.)
  • I’m not going to worry that I’m 20 pounds over the bobble head Los Angeles model range. (Yup I worry about that. Well, no I don’t. The emaciated pre-menopausal crone is so 1996.)
  • I’m not going to worry that my house isn’t perfectly clean or that I have formica countertops with a burn mark circa Carol Brady 1968. (Yup, I sometimes worry about that.)

What Gives Me the Audacity to Kill Worry You Might Ask?

Because if I can show up to Good Friday services at a church located in a perfectly respectable tree lined suburb where someone found it 100% respectable to put their toilet on the curb next to my car, then I don’t have to be so buttoned up either.

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It means I can give myself permission to enjoy pancakes with 3/4 of my family while the other 1/4 sleeps in. (Hey, newsflash: I don’t have to control everything! That even includes using plastic striped plates with an old table cloth and a crusty Maple Syrup container!)

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It means just giving in and letting the dog get up on the fainting couch while I book some camping sites with my husband. My very cute husband who, might I add, loves it when I’m not quite so serious also.

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It might mean dancing whackily in the kitchen to Maroon 5’s Sugar, eating M and M’s for breakfast on occasion and not getting as much done on my pilot this week as I’d hoped.

But given the incredible outpouring of love, friendship and family I had this vacation, I know that everything is happening exactly as it’s supposed to. A little discipline… a little letting go… and a lot of trusting that this God of mine rose above some oh too serious Pharisees in his day. I can rise above my worry, too, then. I can throw my head back, and laugh.

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At the very least I can eat pancakes and, worse case, I don’t feel well? I know of a free toilet not too far away in an emergency.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #42:  Give up worrying if you can by just not taking yourself so damn seriously.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education, meditation, self improvement, writing

I’m Glad To Be Here! (Oh, Wait… I’m Not!) okay fine i am…

Yesterday I was determined to have a fun fantastic fleepinglishious day of subbing. To ensure this I:

  • Slept for 8 hours
  • Prayed
  • Meditated
  • Walked
  • Ate a healthy breakfast
  • Took my vitamins

Most importantly, I took a deep breath.

I stood in front of 40 kids in Period 1 and declared what I promised I’d declare in front of every single class thereafter. “I am so glad to be here! I hear you’re amazing. Let’s do big things!”

And then the unruly mob rambunctious class moved seats, flipped on their phones, threw paper airplanes, ran around the classroom, chewed gum, threw taffy at each other and ditched. (Minus a few kids who snuck in from other classes just to socialize.)

Okay, so I couldn’t change the kids. Even the other teacher who was with me was no help. Lucky for me I could change myself! Yay! Luckily I could put this in practice right away as I had remembered to buy a gift card for the unknown stranger whose lunch I had eaten at 3PM on Friday. It was an honest mistake. A friend of mine had bought one for me and I gratefully munched it down.

Except the unknown stranger turned out to be a very well known uppity up at the school I was subbing at. And such stranger did not take my gift card with grace. Instead it was returned with a note reminding me, in no uncertain terms, to never take things out the fridge that don’t belong to me. (Glad it was clarified because, you know, I totally ingest other people’s nutrition on purpose just to irritate them.)

The cherry on the top of this “I can’t do anything right EVER” pie was one of my children who took the opportunity to remind me of something they had been keeping in their hearts for 2 years. Something I did which apparently earned the title of “The Worst Day of Their Lives.”

I won’t lie. I went dark. Feelings I haven’t felt in a very very VERY long time pounded me.

“Screw all your mantras. Screw all your prayer. You’re a SUBSTITUTE TEACHER. YOU FAILED!

My nightly walk with my husband did not consist of asking about him or admiring the flowers. It consisted of quiet rumination and feelings of shame that I am working a gig I’m just not cut out for. What could have been a reset opportunity for me became a Compare and Despair fight in my brain about what I could be doing… what other people are doing… while I’m living out Plan B. Oh, and all that crap about how I stayed home with my kids during the early years and helped mold them into good humans… the silver lining that subbing works with my kids schedule and I’m getting insurance for my family? FUCK THAT.

I finally had the good sense to call Tuskany who reminded me that Queen Elizabeth is 92 and still taking all her appointments. She impressed upon me that by age 50 only half her leadership role was over. “You still have time to rewrite your life, Andrea. So do I.”

Okay, that sounded pretty good.

Later that night my husband whispered in my ear, “Andrea, you’re not just a loser sub. You’re figuring a LOT out. You’re not where you want to be, but you’re not where you were before. You’re in the hallway.”

It’s words like that which encouraged me to get up and start today over. Guess what day it is, folks???I ook

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Hump Day is not only the holiest and most beautiful day of the week, but it’s a chance to take the same mantra I give to students and listen to the words myself:

“I am so glad to be here! I hear you’re amazing. Let’s do big things!”

Okay, if you insist.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #41:  When life feels overwhelming, remind yourself “I am glad to be here!” The lie: it all has the be perfect to be okay. The truth: we’re all in the hallway and figuring it out as we go. That’s okay.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education, writing

Keep Going! Keep Growing!

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I started this year in a fog

Kids and working but I had no blog

But here’s something exciting

I got busy with writing

And was no longer a bump on a log

 

But then a close family folk died

And my river of words they done dried

Plus with my full time subbing

My brain… it stopped chugging

In a nutshell my body was fried

 

But then I decided this morning

I’m tired of posts I’m ignoring

Because if I don’t take time

To use gifts that are mine

My dreams will be dead on my flooring

 

So here’s to a post that’s worth reading

About plans that will get me succeeding

Just a few goals a day

With distractions at bay

And just like that: My dreams get their seeding!

(Pic given with permission by my kids. Stink is 16 and Pip is 14. I kind of adore them.)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #40: Make a small, manageable goal and stick to it every day. If you don’t, you can only blame yourself if you’re not living your dreams. (Accck… nightmare! Don’t do it! Baby steps!)

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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faith, parenting, self improvement, spirituality

I Am Not God: A Brilliant Offering on Letting Kids Fail (Of course, not my offering… but what was given to me. Just read.)

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So this week was hard but amazing. I’ve known for a long time with my teens that there’s this fine line between letting go and setting boundaries.

But deeper than that is the underbelly of motivations. What am I doing from fear? What am I doing from my own selfish need to re-live pieces of my past through them? And, as was the case this week, what do I not know about what drives me?

That last place can be some pretty murky water for a control freak like me. I am lucky enough to have someone I really value. Who literally knows every single thing about me and still loves me (kind of a scary thing) and she pointed a bright flashlight into those dark waters to illuminate something out that I had no idea I was even doing.

What the Hell Are You Talking About, Andrea?

I had bought some lessons for one of my kids, but they weren’t practicing as much as I’d have liked them to. When I was frustrated about this, my sponsor said, “Are those lessons a gift?” I responded that they were, indeed, a gift. To which she said, “Then you need to stop having expectations about it. She can feel your expectations. Yuck.” Before I could get too offended she remarked, “That’s manipulating. And controlling.” (So much better! Thanks!)

Honestly, I was pissed. But I also trust her. She has not steered me wrong yet. When I get irked, it’s usually because she’s right. My ego just wants to down a six pack and eat a case of Oreos. But I didn’t get sober for my ego. I got sober to live in reality. And that means honoring the sad truth that when I’m irked enough, it’s never about the person, place or thing that’s bugging me. It’s always about me and my expectation. Not 80% of the time. not 99.8% of the time. 100% of time.

Like a masochist I dug further.

“But what about teaching my kid how to be responsible?” (Yeah, that seems reasonable. Plus, as Tuskany wisely pointed out, “Are lessons really a gift? Aren’t there some strings?” Yes! Yes there ARE I decided. Now I was really confused!)

To this my sponsor responded, “Life will teach them all the consequences that they need.”

Okay, that sounds nice on paper. But my bank account was vomiting in protest. “But I’m spending $200/month on this,” I balked. “That’s one expensive life lesson.”

My sponsor got silent. (That pretty much means Yoda is about to speak some serious truth. I braced myself. And good thing. Because what came next really shook me to my core in its brilliance.)

“How do you know that this ‘practice’ you want them to do is really going to change the outcome anyway? What if they are supposed to learn something by failing? Or maybe they won’t fail at all? Or maybe this ‘thing’ you are hoping they will be by taking these classes turns out not the be the thing God wants for them in the first place? Why do you think you know better than God? YOU ARE NOT GOD.”

Um, schooled.

NOTE: I use the word “they” to keep the privacy of the “he” and “she” people in my house. I am trying very carefully to honor them by pulling out my nuggets of learning – for what that is worth – and not compromise them with pics and details. Such is this stage of life. I adore them.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #39: You are not God. Stop predicting every outcome like you think you know everything and let your kids fail. In doing so life becomes the enemy, not you.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education, parenting

Wednesday Is the Best Day! Because It’s…

Hump Daaaaay!

Yes, friends, Wednesday is officially the best day of the week. In honor of such a momentous occasion (and to keep from overthinking about sub gigs, finishing my pilot,  an upcoming memorial service and what oh what am I going to do about that set of poems piling up in my folder?) I donned my best camel themed shirt and went on a hike.

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It’s was an absolutely beautiful day in Los Angeles, and the hills of the Santa Monica were so green and lush. It didn’t hurt that I hiked with a gal who loves camels about as much as I do. I smiled when she handed me a camel bookmark for the occasion, and she grinned right back when I gave her a package of tea which I retrofitted with this photo.

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The type of tea? Camel-myle, of course.

Lest you judge me, do you think it’s possible to find anything more brilliant than a camel? No, it’s not. They have not one, but two sets of eyelashes. They can spit great distances AND can go long periods of time without having to stop and rest. Plus those smiles? Dazzling, joyful and unabashedly optimistic.

These traits pretty much sum up what it takes to be a writer, as well as traverse the many ups and downs of life, living in Los Angeles, and raising teens. These are just a few examples of why Hump Day is indeed worth protecting, honoring and giving the props it deserves.

Anyone else out there have an icon that keeps them laughing, motivated or just plain centered? I’d love to hear. (But I can’t lie. It’ll likely not trump the hump. But try me…)

Happily Ticked Off Tip #38: Similar to my love for Hump Day, find a day of the week that is worth honoring and have fun. It’s something to look forward to each week. Plus it makes for great conversation!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

books

education

Molding Clay… You Never Know What You’ll Make

Today I moved a kid to a new table. It wasn’t without many warnings. It wasn’t with malice. It was simply because he could not manage being in the same spot with his friends. Nor could he manage to sketch and finish a super hero project without taking clay that didn’t belong to him and start rolling it across the desk.

Him remaining there, day after day, was akin to me before I was sober. Despite promises I would not drink four glasses of red wine and two buckets of chicken wings, all bets went out the window if I was super hungry and tired… after a long week with middle schoolers… and you sat me with my girlfriends in front of a bottle of wine. Or two. I went from solid and honorable mama to a lying liar who lies… to herself. Nope, like me on a Friday at happy hour, that kid needed to moved from that situation.

I had him write me a letter as to why he was moved. Not unlike my other student’s reaction, his letter surprised me.

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(That reads: “I can tell you hate me, but you don’t have to tell me. If you do hate me I’m fine with it and you don’t have to say that I’m ‘amazing’. I just wanted to play with clay.”)

It made me sad. “I can tell you hate me.” Really? I’m not really sure if this is a typical middle school reaction, or if this is the result of too much black and white social media influence. “You said the wrong thing… you’re out!” or “You gave me a compliment about my dress… you’re in!” That is until I make a mistake and compliment someone else’s dress and then it means I don’t like yours as much and “I’m out!”

I have no idea 100% what is going on half the time, but one thing I do know how to do… thanks to really messing up with my own kids and husband… is communicate better. I might not be able to pass down my hard earned knowledge to these kids, nor teach them how to make the perfect Origami swan, but I can attempt teach them how to switch their perspective. And sometimes that means just writing them back.

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I brought him to my desk. “Do you see that I boxed two things? One is your behavior. The other is you. I don’t like your actions all the time, but I’m not lying. I do like you. I really do think you’re amazing!”

He shrugged his shoulders and sheepishly walked away.

The truth? I really do think he’s amazing. The problem? He doesn’t think he’s amazing. But maybe, just maybe, a small note of encouragement can lodged in his brain that will spark a journey of self love.

Or he’ll end up stealing clay from Target.

I don’t know the end result of his life. But I know that I want to reach the end of mine knowing I did everything I could every day to be of service to someone.

And I want to reach the end of this night eating a fistful of Trader Joe’s peanut butter cups. I’ve had enough spiritual growth for one day. It’s time for some chocolate and sugar.

PS: I owe some of you some blog readings! Tomorrow is the day. Thank you all for reading me so faithfully. My numbers have grown dramatically and it’s been such a blessing for me to write.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #36: Put your feelings for others in writing. When emotions are high, they can come back to it later and it could make a big difference!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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faith, self improvement, spirituality

Life Death and Big Pink Flowers

Today we officially said goodbye to my father in law. It wasn’t a big funeral. It was a small group of us: my husband, his mom, sister, me and the kids. We took my father in law’s ashes and spread them out on the ocean.

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It was a weird mix of sadness and relief. Sadness that my husband and his family had to bid farewell to a man they weren’t quite ready to say goodbye to. (It happened so fast. Good for him, not so easy for the rest of us.) But relief, too, because now everyone can move forward with the healing process.

I have found that the best support I’ve been able to offer is to give less advice, ask more questions and just listen. This is not the time for me to “fix” anything. Sometimes things just are what they are. At least I’m not fixing problems that occurred from putting my foot in my mouth.

All this silence has given me an awful lot of time to think. And today, what struck me most during the solemn affair was how, in the end, we all go back to the earth. We can strive to sell books or teach classes or have nice homes, but at some point… if we’re lucky… someone is carrying our remains in a bag and wishing us well on journey into the next spiritual realm.

Maybe this sounds depressing, but to me, it takes the pressure off. In my faith, either Jesus died for me or he didn’t. If he did, then maybe I don’t have to sweat the tough stuff so much. Maybe I can grieve and feel those pains of loss, but at the same time laugh and feel the joy because I don’t call the shots. If this Jesus is who I hope he is, he promises something better after the dark fades. He promises that while certain people have gone back to the earth, new life will pop up with glory and color.

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I will try and remember that tomorrow morning when I face that same student who decided I was a terrible teacher. I will take a look at this same pink tree as I drive down the street and pray that whatever darkness she experiences in her home she can bury. I can pray that, like my savior, she can rise into something more vibrant and beautiful that brings joy and color to all who behold her.

And, well, if she can’t, I can, and I’ll let go. Because honestly, I can’t take on the world. Instead, like this picture taken last night when I stepped out of a house full of guests to breathe in the dusk, sometimes you just have to be reminded to sit ON shit rather sit IN it.

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(Yup, that’s four big stinky bags of fertilizer.)

Bottom line: May you grow flowers in your bullshit this week and make the best of whatever comes your way.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #35: When you’re dealt a lot of crap, grow flowers.

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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Coaching and Wellness, education, faith, self improvement, spirituality

Hypocrite in Transition: Staple That to My Cardigan!

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Just yesterday I was saying how I meditate every day. If I don’t, I’m a mess.

Today I didn’t meditate. And shock of all shocks, I was a mess this morning.

I gotta admit it, I’m TIRED. I can’t keep on top of the waves of life that are rocking me these days. Work? I can do that. Kids to doctors? I can do that. But all the other stuff like remembering market items and birthdays… being on time for meetings or slowing down with my kids to really see them in the morning and not just rush rush rush while being cranky that my husband had the audacity to fix the pockets in my jeans so I don’t look like a vintage homeless giant? I’m kind of losing the game there.

Because I don’t allow myself to get into victim mode anymore, my mornings don’t define my entire day. There’s always an opportunity to start over. How? Hint: It doesn’t involve getting other people to behave. The only way for that to happen is to right size oneself. And the only way right size wonky, upside down thinking is to get in gratitude and be of service.

I’m no mathematician, but that’s a formula that has kept me from being homicidal or suicidal for the past year and so I gladly share it with you.

Ex: Today one of my students was sitting at my desk doing a big fat nothing. “Why do you let her sit at your desk?” you might ask. The answer: “Because she’s a bit on the fringe. I keep an eye on her. I make sure she’s doing work. Which, sometimes she doesn’t. And by “sometimes” I mean “often.” Clearly this is an IEP kid who needs some extra nudging. In a class of 40 with no aid, this isn’t easy. I can only offer lack of judgement and encouragement when the energy of the class transitions from savage ingrates to mediocre feral.

Knowing her wiring, and adding in the fact that she is not spitting, licking the desktop or throwing a basketball from one table to the next (yeah, that happened once) I gave her a passing grade during progress reports. So you can imagine my surprise when she left a homemade envelope on my note. It had more staples than guards at San Quentin. On it, in my black sharpie (which she did not ask permission to use, of course) read the words “MS. FRIZZLE. READ THIS. IN PRIVATE. NOW.” It was decorated with very sad cartoon drawings which, truthfully, were way better constructed than this awkward art teacher could have done. But I digress.

On the inside was a letter that read:

Dear Ms. Frizzle. I am very very upset with you. I got a B in this class and CLEARLY I deserved an A. I am very mad at you and want to tell you how WRONG this is. L.

What could I do? I wrote her back on the same strip of paper. I sealed it with more staples, hoping they wouldn’t poke her little paws and bleed all over my freshly washed desk. It read:

Dear L: I am so glad you took the time to write me! You spell very well! I am surprised that you are sad with your B, given that 25% of your grade is participation (you do not participate) 25% is your vision board (you did not complete this) 25% is your test (you have not taken any so that was an automatic A – Congrats on your easy win!) and 25% is behavior (you rarely take out your work after multiple prompts.) When you add this up you technically deserve an F in my class. Are you willing to change some habits, and your perception, to bring your B to an A by June? Ms. Frizzle. 

The responding note I received blew me away. In a good way. And it couldn’t have happened had I not switched my own perspective. Check in tomorrow to find out!

Happily Ticked Off Tip #31: When you get centered, other people behave. It’s really that simple!

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Are you ready to stop blaming other people for what only you can do which is to center yourself? If so, sign your name to commit to the journey. (For me it was commit or be committed. I’m glad I took the first step.) Let’s support each other!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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writing

The Terrible Poem Contest: I’m In!

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Many of you know that I’m writing a poem/day Shel Silverstein style for every day that I substitute teach. This means that at the end of the year I will have 100 poems.

All rhymes are all being written from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy who comes from a divorced family. He goes back and forth between his parents. Some of the poems are a bit more reflective, while others are of the goofy, gross and silly variety.

I suppose this is why I decided to throw my hat in the ring of this blogger’s poetry contest. The theme is “Under the Table” and should be a truly horrific poem. Here’s my shot.

Under the Table

My friends are all camping

But alas I’m not able

Nope, I’m grounded for life

Right here under the table

A butter knife for a friend

Along with a rag

To scrape all my boogers

Into this trash bag

Yup, what once was my haven

For picking my nose

My mom did discover

So now I am hosed

“You won’t move from this spot

Except to go pee

Until all chunks are removed

Do you understand me?”

What could I say?

My answer was “Yes”

Now there’s no more snot digging

What?  YES I’m depressed

The moral of this tale

From under the table?

Stay away from nose picking

To avoid this sad fable

The end

Happily Ticked Off Tip #28: Enter contests that represent your passion. You never know if you will win!

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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education

Children and Art: Go Figure

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Teaching art for 200 middle schoolers per day has had a profound impact on my soul.

Today a small boy who looks like Huck Finn meets The Goonies told me, “You’re so awesome, Ms. Frizzle!”

A seventh grade girl who is often found hiding behind her Ipod and anime drawings of genderal neutral dwarfs poked her head out from behind her hoody and whispered, “I can talk to you more than any other teacher.”

Another kid left this on my desk.

 

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Two out of three ain’t bad.

Happily Ticked Off Tip #27: Kids will be kids. And apparently, in middle school, they know how to make kids. Be glad when they’re messing with model figures and not each other. 

My book is available on Amazon. (Note: It’s a special ed journey… your kid doesn’t need to have Tourettes to relate!) Follow me on Twitter@AndreaFrazerWrites or on Facebook. 

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