Thursday, December 27, 2012

Winding Down

photo by Kristin Repp

I love this week between Christmas and New Year's - it's a time for  much needed rest and deep reflection.  I am spending the next ten days up in Northern Idaho, watching the snow fall over the lake and lounging in front of the fire place.

Here are a few things I wanted to share with you at the end of 2012:

Heartwarming News Stories - We need these right now to be reminded of all the goodness in the world.

Susannah Conaway's Unraveling the Year Ahead workbook  is a fun / insightful way to plan the life you want to have.  Some of the questions she asks are difficult but I believe that her wisdom will push us into awareness and accountability.

I am sinking into this book right now - engaging and thought-provoking, perfect for reading in crowded airports and on cold winter nights.

Chex Party Mix is my favorite holiday snack!  My mom used to make it this time of year and the smell of it roasting in the oven brings back such warm memories.  I double the liquid part of the recipe, skip the bagel chips, and add lots of mixed nuts to make it the way I like best.

This is a personalized gift that is perfect for just about anyone!  We have been enjoying our own and have found it to be more challenging than we had thought.

I will be taking a blogging break (a real one this time, unlike my unintentional lapses) until New Year's Day.  Until then, I wish you lazy days with the ones you love. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

My Response

my first class as a teacher, 1992
I am a teacher.  Every day I and my thousands of colleagues around the world go to work to protect children.  We protect them against failure, against hopelessness, against giving in to negative urges that keep them from their best selves.  And, yes, we protect them physically.  We watch them on the playground, as they walk down our halls, while they eat their lunches.  We remind them to get a drink of water when they are hot, to be careful while using scissors, and to wash their hands after they use the restroom.  We protect them to the best of our ability each and every day.
Teachers become “mama bears” with their students.  We advocate for them, stick up for them, and continually learn about them as individuals.  We use our own money to buy classroom supplies, snacks and even items like shoes if it will make a difference to one of our kids.  We teach them to think but also to empathize, problem solve, feel, discover, plan and reflect.  We arrive at school hours before the buses roll in and leave long after the bell rings.  It is not unusual for us to wake up in the middle of the night to plan a lesson or forget whether we already used conditioner in the shower because we were going over an intervention to try with a student later that day.  We are on duty even when the school is closed up and empty.
You hear a lot of negative things said about teachers.  It is said that we don’t work hard enough, that we get too much time off, that we can’t teach kids well enough to ace standardized tests.  And, yes, there is room for improvement in our profession and we should be more open to the changes society asks of us.  But you can’t question where are hearts are or how far we are willing to go to make sure your child is successful for a lifetime.
Last Friday we heard about how our fellow teachers in Connecticut went to the ropes for their students.  I was heartbroken, sad but also very proud of the bravery those teachers displayed under horrendous conditions.  And I know that if we had to, if any of us in any school was in that same situation, we would do the exactly what they did.  Without thinking twice, we will shield our students from danger even if it puts us directly in its path.
A deranged individual has pulled the rug out from under us.  But he can’t erase who we are and what we do.  He can’t make us hide in our homes and be fearful of each other.  Fifteen years ago he was protected by teachers, maybe even some of the same teachers he was targeting.  We protected him then because that is what public schools do and will always do.
I know it will be hard for parents to watch their children board a school bus or to drop them off at school this week.   I cannot change what happened and how it has and will continue to affect us.  But I can promise you, we teachers will be there in full force prepared to do what we do best – protect, educate and care for your child at school.  We will be on-duty and more visible than usual because we want you to know you can trust us with your precious child.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Now why didn't I think of that?!

When I was growing up, Joy Dishwashing Soap gave away these cute little elves clinging to their bottles during the holiday season.  We had several since my mom preferred Joy and they became beloved toys around Christmastime.  Their hands were fastened together, which limited their mobility, but they were embraced by our Barbies and other dolls for lots of imaginative play.

Now there is a popular "Elf on the Shelf" item that embodies this same sense of holiday playfulness.  The "Elf on a Shelf" comes into your home during the day, watches the young ones for good behavior, returns to the North Pole at night, and comes back to perch in your home at a different location each morning.  Apparently, kids become more aware of their own actions while the elf is present and are excited at the beginning of each day to find where he/she is perched.  It's the Joy Elf with a few adendums.  My sister, who has four young children and an "Elf on the Shelf", exclaimed, "Why didn't we think of this?!"  At about $30.00 a pop, it's a worthwhile question.  I just kept hoping they would reappear on dishwashing soap.
Do you have an "Elf on the Shelf" ?  Do you remember or still  have a Joy dishwashing soap elf?  I would love to hear your story.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Happy Holiday Season!

Somehow December slipped in and there are signs of the holiday spirit everywhere. 
Mixed in with all the joy, there are dilemmas that this time of year presents.  Among these are "Who to gift?" and "What to give?"
I work at a school and wanted to do something for our support staff.  I certainly didn't want to give anything that needed to be receipricated.  And since there are eleven people in this group, the gift needed to be within my budget.  Here is what I came up with:  I bought these snowman/santa pens from Geddes School Supplies for $.54 cents each and attached a tag to each one saying "Thanks for all you do.  Happy Holidays." 


This gift is useful, inexpensive and doesn't require a thank-you note or a gift in return = perfect.
Here's hoping all your holiday dilemmas can be matched with an easy solution.