Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Tree part 2

     So, I finished my tree. I don't think it was quite as impactful as last year but I'm hoping it brightened someone's day. In one major snafu, I was supposed to get some bulletin board paper from the art teacher so I could put up the tree trunk and branches. She was absent all last week so I ended up just taping an outline on the wall. The kids got the idea, but it looked pretty lame.
      Instead of writing a lot about the tree, let me tell you about a moment I was thankful for. I have this 7th grade student, Maddie, who is such a sweet kid. She had e-mailed me for something at 5 pm on Tuesday and I told her that I was working on something and would need to get back to her later. She asked if I was still at school and I replied that I was. She e-mailed me again at 6. I jokingly asked if she thought anyone would mind if I slept over at the school.
     On Tuesday I worked on my leaf project from about 6am-7:50, 10:40-12:05, 3:30-6 and then from 7-1:45. Then I finally finished. I went into work early on Wed so I could tape the leaves up. At 7:30, I got a knock on my classroom door. I called for whoever it was to come in and it was Maddie. When she turned the corner and saw what I was doing, she smiled and said "Ah.. that's what you were up to yesterday." I laughed and told her that I was almost done, that I just needed to tape the leaves up. She offered to help and handed me something. "Here, we made a chocolate raspberry coffee cake for breakfast today. I knew you were working hard last night and wondered if you may have skipped breakfast." (Which I had)
     Sometimes it's the kind little things like that that make teaching so worth it.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving tree part 1

   So some of my penpals have asked me to write here about my Thanksgiving project that I did last year and have decided to do again this year. Last year, I was very close to the 8th grade class. In October of last year, it was obvious that  many of the kids were struggling with anxiety and there was an incident that happened with one of our students that really affected a lot of kids. I knew that these kids really respected me and I knew that my words had power to heal and to show love. So, I decided to make a big tree in my room with a leaf for each student who sang for me. I painted/ printed/doodled, etc each leaf by hand. Then I wrote them all a sincere note on the back about why I appreciated them and my hopes for them. I hung them up in my room on a large "tree" (hey, it's the thought that counts right?).  This is what it looked like. I think some people had already taken their leaf. (It was about 8 feet high and 8 feet wide.)

     I called the kids to come up and get their leaf on the day before Thanksgiving. Many of my 8th graders were smart enough to know that each leaf was different and that each person had a note, which was also different. Thankfully, nobody (well... 2 girls- which out of a few hundred wasn't bad.) sat and compared notes.
     About a month ago a little boy, who is now in 6th grade, told me that I am "the most considerate person he knows" because of this tree project. I was really humbled and since then many other students have commented about how they still have their leaves in their binders, their bedrooms or framed. I decided to do the project again this year.
    I have been diligently making leaves and writing notes. I'm finished 5th-8th grade up to the Es. I have a long way to go. I'm hoping that at least 1 kid really needs to hear the words I write to them.
     THANK YOU SARAH! I have been using a gelli print on the leaf cutouts you made me. When I put up the picture of this year's tree I want you to know that all the maple leaves are the ones you made me. Thank you!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Fall Sunset

     Today had a few small treats for me. At church, my friend's 4 month old son leaned over and reached for me. I picked him up and he alternated between cuddling me and jumping up and down with the cutest smile I have seen in a while. Then he proceeded to snuggle up against me and fall asleep. There are not many more calming, peaceful things than a sweet, innocent baby sleeping soundly on you. <3 <3
     Then, a few minutes ago I looked out the window and saw the whole sky in this pinkish hue. I grabbed my camera and grabbed these pictures. It is not uncommon to see this on one side of the house, but today the entire sky was like this for about 5 minutes. Beautiful. I love that huge tree across the street.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Facebook Follow-up

     Almost a month ago I posted about giving up Facebook. I have almost completed my month so I thought I'd share my thoughts.

      Surprisingly, I have not really missed it, nor have I been tempted to log on. I have noticed that I have had more time to get things done, but I have also noticed that I have not used that time to do too much. I have gotten more sleep and allowed myself more rest. (This could also be because I haven't been feeling well.) I wish I could say that I was super motivated and have accomplished a ton of things but I can't.
     I have checked in once or twice because someone I usually don't get messages from has sent me one. I have also logged on accidentally while clicking on links in e-mails from a company, etc. and it has brought me to Facebook. I have had multiple notifications that I have ignored and I have reminded many friends that I haven't been online. I have also had a few people tell me that they were going to reach out or send me a message, but then they didn't because they knew I would not get it. I have missed the convenient connections.
      I have also missed seeing pictures on Halloween or being notified of birthdays.
      I have not missed memes, complaining, sharing some of my own things, and stupid games. I thought I would be more lonely. I have not noticed a difference.
     I have made an effort to get together with some people and to reach out to people I haven't seen in a while. I think I'm destined to be the one who always has this role...which I don't like all the time.

    I think after the month, I will log in, check my close to 1000 notifications (seriously. I'll just check tags, messages and pics) and then keep it activated but not check it as often. I may also turn off notifications on my cell phone.
     If you are one of my friends who have also given up Facebook temporarily, how is it going for you?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

    After I attended Cinderella, a friend of mine offered to treat me to see the musical Beautiful, which tells the story of Carole King.

    To be 100% honest, I wasn't super excited about seeing the musical. I had heard some of the songs Carole King had sung, but I wasn't that familiar with her. On the other hand, I don't dislike her and didn't really have any reason not to see it. It was one of those situations where I would never have bought a ticket, but since someone was treating me, I didn't mind going. I'm so glad I did!
     First of all, how often does someone offer to treat you to a musical? So, thanks Robin if you are reading this! Secondly, I knew almost ALL of the pieces. I had heard the songs Carole had sung but I had no idea how much music she has written that was performed by other musicians. (As a music teacher, it was nice to be reminded of how the industry worked at that time and to put some connections together that I hadn't made before.) Third, I enjoyed learning about Carole King's life. I will probably research a little more into the lives of some of the characters. Lastly, the cast was INCREDIBLE! I don't think I had seen any of them in other shows but I will definitely keep my ears and eyes open for future shows these people are in.
     If you have a chance to catch it in Boston before Sunday, try to check it out. If not, the next 3 cities are Minneapolis, Chicago and St. Louis.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Sweet moments of the week- and Halloween question

    - I began working on my Thanksgiving tree project. My sister-in-law, Sarah, just sent me a bunch of leaf cut outs that I can decorate. Thanks, Sarah!
   - I wrote a few parents to tell them how much I enjoy having their children in my class. I received some great responses, even though they didn't need to write back.
    - A 5th grade girl made me a cute little ghost cupcake. Kind of like these, but the ghost was a folded piece of fondant, covered in more fondant. This little girl is one of the nicest kids. (She wore this costume:  to school today with a little painted pink nose and whiskers.)
     - I also saw a baby (inflatable) sumo wrestler costume, Justin Bieber, a bumble bee, a cowgirl, lots of superheroes, Waldo, etc. There were no super gross or sexy costumes. It was refreshing.
     -Helped a good friend who is going through a hard time
     - Played a few duets with Timmy while he was practicing trumpet. (I played recorder. It was torture for my music teacher ears, but it was fun. Timmy is doing great.)
      - Played some board games with David
      -Helped Tim on a book report
     - Watched Amazing Race with the kids tonight. Now they both want to try bungee jumping.
     -Talked to the boys about some new activities that neither of them have tried before. It will be interesting to see if they like them or not.
       -Matt made these Rolo Cheesecake Bars:
ROLO CHEESECAKE BARS. Recipe Oh my gosh. This is the picture and recipe from Just a Pinch Recipes. Holy cow are they tasty!

Tomorrow is Halloween. My students asked me today which countries currently celebrate Halloween. If you are reading from outside of the US, can you tell me if Halloween in celebrated in your country? If so, what do people do on Halloween?  For our family it's a time to dress up, go trick or treating and eat candy, but that's pretty much it.
     I'd love to talk to them about it on Monday.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Currently 10/24


     It has become a new tradition on Friday nights to watch Amazing Race with the boys. We have enjoyed snuggling on the couch and watching the places where they travel. Timmy mentioned yesterday that he would want to try ziplining or bungee jumping after watching this week's episode. David likes the snacks. 3 weeks ago, we ordered potato skins from a restaurant down the street, 2 weeks was popcorn and last night was a salty snack mix. I enjoy listening to what the boys think of each team and how they process the challenges they are facing. It's interesting to me to see what kinds of attitudes bother the boys and which ones they don't see a problem with. (Neither boy are fans of the cheerleaders, sorry ladies. Timmy's favorite team are Josh and Tanner, above. David's favorite team are Cindy and Rick.)


   I entered to win this book in November of last year on Goodreads. I lost but Bill Harrison, the author (and the person who was stuck on the raft), e-mailed me and asked if I would like a copy of the e-book. I finally got around to reading it. Basically, he was serving in the Navy during WWII and after the war officially ended, his ship was sent to clear the waters. They ended up in a tsunami and the boat sunk. He and 8 other soldiers ended up making it onto a life raft. This books tells the story of their 6 days they spent adrift without food and water. Most people who know me well know that I am not a huge fan of the ocean. (Looking at it, yes; being in it, no.) I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to spend 6 days in the middle of the ocean (even on a giant ship. lol), never mind without supplies  or food and surrounded by sharks. Bill tells of how his faith affected his experience and of the faithfulness of God. I really enjoyed this book and his perspective on life in general. He would be a person I would really like to have coffee with someday. 
      I don't know what I'm reading next. (I have a system so I'll know tonight!)


    To the Holy Spirit. Ever get a nagging feeling that something is just not the way it should be?  Changing some things I have been noticing lately. Right now I am working on some easy things. I'm planning on tackling some less comfortable things within the month. 


Cupcakes and new friends. I'm going to take advantage of this cold day to make some chocolate cupcakes. I haven't baked in a while- just simple, plain cupcakes but I'm sure we'll enjoy them. 
     Today I had breakfast with a group of ladies; some whom I have hung out with before and some new friends. I really enjoyed myself and I'm glad that I "put myself out there" when I invited some acquaintances that I didn't know very well. 
     I've been making some backgrounds for my leaf project too. 


     Good. I'm glad that I made the decision to take a break from Facebook. Not missing it at all yet and seriously considering logging on at the end of the month, downloading all my pictures and deactivating. I do love when I log on and reconnect with someone, so maybe I will keep the account but only log on every month or so to update any new friends with contact info. I'll see at the end of the month. 
      This may sound weird, but I feel like I'm FEELING more in general. I'm trying to eliminate some distractions and pay attention to life in general. I mentioned that I wanted to connect more and I feel like that's happening. I found myself really paying attention to what I'm saying/writing to people as well as taking time to relax and listen to other people more. Slowing down is taking a bit of effort but I'm happy for the opportunity.  A friend of mine mentioned she missed playing with me in a concert band I used to be in. I may have time to join it again. I LOVE Christmas concerts and I may consider joining again. 


  Last year I did a huge project for my students at Thanksgiving. I made a large tree, and handpainted/designed a leaf for each student who sang for me. On the back, I wrote them each a personal message. It was really impactful to them and to me. I'm starting early so I can sleep that week. :) (Anyone want to cut out leaf shaped for me? Lol. Better yet, anyone have a cricut with lots of leaf cut outs?)
      I'm planning to get at least a few letters done this weekend and to get caught up on my mail log. I'll update the project soon. I think I'm going to hit my "outgoing mail" goal this year. Then what? (Still sadly behind on incoming)


I love that the weather is getting cooler. The leaves are beautiful here and the brisk air makes me feel alive. I also rarely get sunburned in the fall, which doesn't mean it NEVER happens. I love enjoying a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate, fire pits, hanging a throw on the couch for chilly nights, hot dinners, etc. I really love Christmas too so, even though I get aggravated at early advertising, I have to admit that I am looking forward to the holidays this year.