Monday, December 31, 2012

Here's the Deal, 2013...

Well, here we are.  The last day of 2012.  It's been a bit of a crazy day for me already, being that I didn't go to bed until 5am this morning and then slept until 12:30.  I was up with Jelly and realized that we had a pretty nasty leak in the back half of the living room - so I had to stay up to change towels and pans out to avoid some flooding problems.  I so want a new house.

But that's not what today is about.  Today is about making plans and preparations for 2013.  That word that crosses the lips of millions of people on this day... Resolutions.

I've been working on some resolutions for a while, now.  A quick Google search gave me a pretty generic picture that shows the top new year resolutions that are made each year.  Looking at those sticky notes brings back some memories... I've uttered most of those throughout my life.  How many have I kept?  Well, none.  I've made some great attempts, started off strong, but slowly fizzled out and ended up right back at square one.

Making open resolutions are worth about as much as the sticky notes they are written on.  Everyone has dreams and desires, plans to make them a better person, but unless there's any follow through - commitment - it's all just empty words and promises. 

Making my list this year, I decided to go with a multi-step list.  Rather than just plugging in the usual stuff, I came up with a couple of things to add under the major resolutions that will hopefully help me get to where I need to be. Stuff that takes just a little of effort on my part, but could have a major impact on my life.  So, here we go....

1.  Lose weight.  My list wouldn't be complete without this little gem sitting right on top.  Goodness, the amount of years I've put this resolution as number one.  Some years have been better than others at the success with this - but this year has been one epic fail.  I'm almost back to my original square one - and don't like it ONE BIT!  So, here's a few things I want to do to help me just a little:
  • Go for a walk at least 3 times a week for at least 15 minutes.  Nothing major, just a walk around the block a few times or a walk around the gym if the weather is bad.  My past has shown me that starting out slowly leads to more, but I don't want to set myself up for failure right out of the gate.
  • Drink more water!  I need to fill up my gallon jug of water each morning and actually drink from it.
  • Portion Control, Portion Control, Portion Control!  Yep.  It's back to the 3 meals a day, healthier choices, and eating for energy rather than comfort.
  • Don't obsess over my weight, but don't be lax either.  I know that losing weight is all about commitment.  If I don't commit, it won't happen.  Period.  But, I also know that if I spend every waking minute obsessing about it, I quickly become burnt out and over it.   I'm really going to have to focus on finding a good balance between being mindful of my decisions and focusing on how I feel and how I want to feel.
2.  Make the most of my time.  I'm pretty sure that if you open a dictionary and find the word "Procrastinator", my picture would be right next to it.  I'm the worst at procrastinating.  I work well under pressure, but then I put stress on myself for no reason...just because I didn't make myself do what I needed to do during the time I had to do it.  So, how do I use my time more effectively?
  • Finish my daily work each day BEFORE leaving work.  That's stuff like grading papers, making copies for the next day, enter grades in to the computer, stuff like that.  It really doesn't take much time to do it each day.  And the time and stress it would save me by not having to do it all on Thursday or Friday morning would be a big relief.
  • Use my planning time to plan.  Wow, there's a concept.  Use planning time to plan?  Who'd of thunked it.  I started doing this about two weeks before school got out for Christmas break, and I found that I actually got my weekends back.  I figure if I use Monday's planning time to plan for the following Monday, Tuesdays' for the next Tuesday and so on it would take me all of 10 minutes of my planning time and save me hours on the weekends.  
  • Get in to a routine for cleaning the house.  I'm the worst about wanting to spend my weekends doing fun stuff or working - if I've slacked off during the week.  Then, my house ends up going a few weeks without being properly cleaned.  Not good!  I need to use the lesson instilled in to me by my parents and the lesson I instill in to my own children.  No playing until chores are done.  There was a reason for that lesson growing up, and it needs to be instilled now.  Each weekend, I don't get to do anything else until I've finished cleaning.  Period.
3.  Become more financially responsible.  I want a new house?  I want my car to be maintained and taken care of by the dealership I bought it from?  I want to get my student loans paid off?  Well, in order to do that I need to start saving my pennies.  Easier said than done.. but very doable.
  •  Continue to budget every penny.  I am very proud of the accomplishments I've made with my budgeting.  A few months ago, there was just no way I could see being able to afford a brand new car and the responsibilities that came with it.  But, then I started running my numbers, seeing how much money I could save by cutting out a few things, and BAM - plenty of money for a new car.  
  • Start a rainy day fund.  My budgeting skills have become so good that there are several months I end up with money left over.  Now, a good little budgeter would just come up with a savings plan for those extra pennies here and there... but what do I do?  Use it for things I don't need.  Waste it, in other words.  After the mess I dealt with last night with our leaky roof, it became apparent how important it is to start saving those extra pennies here and there for emergencies... like needing a new roof.  If I'm blessed without having to use the fund, then I'm starting a nice down payment fund for when I get to buy my new house. 
  • Zero out my credit cards each month.  This is actually a freebee I'm giving myself, because this is something I've become a master of.  I'm going to take it one step further, though, and limit my credit card usage to one thing a month - something small like a tank of gas - and then pay that off.  And I only plan on doing that just so it keeps my credit score in good standing.  That will mean more money for the rainy day fund.  I am strict with my thinking that if I can't pay cash for something, I don't need it... but I have slacked off just a little with that in the past.  No more of that!
4.  Create more memories and traditions.  Being a better planner of time and money is great, but it often consumes my thoughts and makes me forget the important things I'm not paying enough attention to... like my family.  I have just 5 more years left before Peanut graduates high school, 6 years before it's Butter's turn.  The past 5 to 6 years have gone by in the blink of an eye, so I can imagine that those remaining years will do the same.   It's sad to think that I've spent the first big chunk of my oldest children's lives fulfilling my dreams.  If I had a dollar for every time I've uttered "I can't right now, Momma's busy" there would be no need for a rainy day fund.  And that makes me sad.  I get so caught up in the demands of work, that I sometimes forget that there's 3 precious angels that want nothing more than just a little time with me.  Not any more!
  • Start a family night.  Something so simple could mean the creation of so many memories.  By dragging out some board games, a video game, or some other activity each weekend is all it would take.  It's never too late to start a new family tradition, and this year will be the year.  No excuses, no other commitments, just the family sitting around and enjoying an hour or two of fun.  In fact, that's how we're celebrating the new year.  I've decided that New Years Eve will now be the night where the entire family sit around and try out all the new goodies from Christmas.  
  • Take more photos.  I always remember to take photos of holidays and important events, but I very seldom take candid shots of just my kids...or me with my kids for that matter.  And when I do take photos, they sit stored in my phone or on my computer.  It's time to start cataloging my photos, printing them, taking care of them, and making sure they are around forever.  It will be so great - years from now - to sit around with my grandkids and share the memories of times past.  Can't do that without some visual aids.  So I better get to making some.  Stat!
  • Listen, laugh, love.  Three simple words that carry a huge amount of happiness.  The communication door between my kids and me is currently a good one...and I need to keep it that way.  I need to listen when they need to talk.  And listen when they're just rambling on about their day.  I need to laugh at the small stuff, be free to make a fool of myself.  And love.  Love my kids in every way possible. 
5.  Be happy!  Such easy words to say, but often the hardest words to live by.  Each year, I've thought about the dreams and desires I've have for the new year...and just being happy about what life throws my way usually isn't something I think about.  For the first few years after my kids were born, I wished for a year where I could just make ends meet, give my kids a stable home environment.  Then, I got that and moved on to going to school and wishing for less stress, more time, good grades.  Got through that and then my wishes turned to finding a teaching job.  This will be my first year where I have none of those dreams or desires - I've accomplished them all.  I move in to this year without hoping for anything - except just being happy.  This is the first year in my entire adult life where I can stop the worrying and just live in the moment.  And doing these few things to help me remember...
  • It's OK to take some time for myself.  Time, time, time...always time.  I worry and stress so much about my time that I often forget that it's OK to just sit around and do nothing, or go out to lunch with friends, or sit and crochet for hours on end.  Every waking moment doesn't have to be planned.
  • Distribute my blessings.  Now that I've managed to accomplish so much in my life, it's a great time to start helping others.  I have so many ideas about how I can give back to my community, help out where I'm needed, and instill the value of charity to my kids.  Sounds like this would be a great year to do that.
  • Try new ventures.  Without stepping on the toes of that T word (time), I want to try out a few new things.  I've always wanted to write a book.  I want to start a small online store with my crocheted items.  I want to rally together a weight loss/healthy living club at work.  So, why don't I?  Now that I have my life right where I want it, it doesn't mean that I just have to sit back and roll along.  As long as I don't infringe on the time I have with my family and the other resolutions I've set for myself - there's no reason I can't try a few new things.  Right?  So, that's what I'm going to do.
And there you have it.  My resolutions for 2013.  My check list.  In 365 days I will be able to sit and look back at the desires I had for the year - and hope that I get to check most of them off.

The most important thing, though, is to bask in my accomplishments.  I've gone through so much in my 30 years on this earth - and I want the next 30 years to be as exciting.  Maybe not as stressful, but full of adventure and happiness.

Resolutions aren't plans made to be broken, they are inspirations to achieve.  I am the only one that can determine if I stick to them or not.  I will be the only one to blame if I don't take each of these things and run with them.  And there's not a single reason I can't do everything on this list and more.



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Please Don't Be One of Those Days

Not off to a good start here in my house.  Was up half the night with Jelly - who's still getting over a nasty cold and because she slept so much during the day yesterday, was awake until almost 3am.  I ended up sleeping on the couch for a while.  Woke up, and Hubby tells me that our water pipes are frozen. 

The stupid thing was, he got up and made coffee and washed some dishes and then the water froze.  He knew that didn't sound right, went outside to inspect, and found that one of our pipes had burst.  UGH!

So, now we are without water while he runs to Lowe's to see if he can find the right piping stuff to fix it.

I have to go to my parents' house today to pick up Peanut and Butter, so if there's still no water by the time I leave I can grab a shower there... but it's still a pain in the you know what. 

I'm starting to wonder if this is Karma's way of helping me get ready to go back to work.  I'll be so tired of being at home, that I'll bask in the thought of being at work.  It's slowly getting to that point.  Because Jelly has been so sick, I haven't had a chance to do anything else.  My house is still a wreck, my work still hasn't been started, and now even making dinner is a chore that's going to have to be figured out if we continue to have problems with the water.

I don't know what Jelly has, but it's not pretty.  She started out with a high temp last Wednesday that broke overnight.  On Thursday, she seemed to be getting better, but a trip to the grocery store wiped her out and she ended up sleeping most of the afternoon.  Same drill on Friday.  Seemed fine when she woke up, but after a couple of hours out running errands - she was wiped out and slept for hours. Yesterday, I gave her a day to rest and relax.  She spent the ENTIRE day in bed.  No joke.  I don't know of any 5 year olds that would gladly take the opportunity to lay in bed all day and watch Christmas movies...but that's exactly what she did.  And every couple of hours, she was sleeping again.  She got up last night to eat dinner - and her appetite seemed to be a lot better.  Then, she went back to sleep and woke up around midnight and was then up half the night. 

I'm starting to think that she has the flu.  I'll be calling the doctor first thing in the morning to see about getting her in.  Because each day she seems to be on the mend, I've held off just thinking it was a cold.  Now, I'm done waiting.  Five days of this has been quite long enough.  Thankfully, she's eating and drinking - so I'm not worried about dehydration.  It really isn't anything more than a stuffy nose and a cough - but I don't want to take any chances.  She's been off her feet long enough for me to know that she needs some kind of antibiotics or something to knock it out once and for all.

Just spoke to my mom on the phone and she informs me that Jelly left her mark before leaving her house on Wednesday.  My mom has whatever Jelly has, and so does my 3 year old niece.  Great.  I have to keep knocking on wood that I don't end up with whatever it is.  I've held that girl all over me for days and I'm still good... but I know I'm going to have to watch my exhaustion level to stay that way.  Now I'm praying to all things holy that Peanut and Butter come home to me healthy.

Well, I better take this opportunity to get off of here and get some work done.  Only a couple of days left of break, and this stuff isn't going to take care of its self...not matter how much I wish for it.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Day Out Cut Short By White Stuff

Call me crazy, but I really think I have some kind of cosmic snow power.  Don't laugh!  I'm totally serious.  The first time was a fluke, but twice in one week I've made a request about snow...and it's happened.

On Christmas Eve, the weather gave a forecast that there was a 100% chance of snow on Christmas Day.  Not just for a bit of snow, either.  There was a winter storm warning and everything saying that we'd be getting anywhere from 2-6" of the stuff.  Especially at my parents' house, which is south of me.  They were forecasted to get even more than we were supposed to get at my house.

I sat at my computer and I asked for no snow.  As much as I love snow, I am terrified of having to travel in it.  Because I was traveling to and from my mom's over Christmas, I begged that the snow go around us.  And you know what?  It did.  While I stayed tuned to the weather, watching the radar right over the top of us supposedly bringing down inches of snow, not a single flake fell over my parents' house or my house.  The snow ended up going around us.

Then, yesterday, I sat at my computer and asked the weatherman to send snow.  OK, technically I asked for snow on New Year's Day... but I still asked for it.

Yesterday, there wasn't a single percentage chance of snow when we left our house.  It was supposed to be partly cloudy all day.  Cold, but no precipitation.

We had to go out yesterday to get the scheduled service done on my car before I have to go back to work.  The car was going to be in the shop for a couple of hours, so Hubby, Jelly, and I went and ran some errands.  We had some lunch, we went and did some shopping, and as we were coming out of Wal-Mart I noticed some white stuff falling from the sky.  Just a few flurries.  Nothing major.  By the time we drove from Wal-Mart across the street to the gas station, it was coming down heavier...not sticking, but really coming down.

We made a quick drive to the dealership to pick up my car.  We could barely see in front of us it was coming down so hard.

It took all of 20 minutes to drive from the dealership to my house.  I wasn't really scared at that point, because even though the snow was really coming down, the roads weren't getting covered.  That started to change the closer I got to my house.  By the time I got to the road that leads to my house, this had happened...

I was so happy I was only 2 minutes from my house, because my blood pressure started to get a little high.  Remember, I'm terrified of driving in the snow.  And before anyone says anything about me taking pictures while I was driving - I didn't.  I grabbed my phone and turned on the camera and just clicked it.  I didn't have to look at the phone at all to do that.

By the time we got in the house and unpacked our stuff - maybe 5 minutes later - I took this picture out of the front door..

 It stopped snowing shortly after that, and that's as much as we got... but it's about an inch.

It boggles my mind that on a day that there's a 100% chance of snow, we get none.  On a day with 0% snow?  Yeah, we get an inch of it.

Of course, it's a little earlier than I had requested, but I'm not going to complain.  It was nice to curl up on the couch yesterday afternoon and just enjoy it.  Of course, I have to go pick up Peanut and Butter from my parents' house today - and I hope there's no ice on the roads...that won't be good.

I probably won't get the snow I requested for New Year's Day, now... but it's OK.  I've had two weeks off, I should be happy about that.  At least we got some snow this year... last year was so warm it was more like spring all winter.  Besides, winter is just getting started.  There's plenty of time for more snow.  My birthday is in a month... maybe we'll get some then, right?

I've decided that this is officially my last day of doing nothing.  I have to go out and get the kids later, but other than that I'm not doing anything.  Tomorrow and Monday I'm going to get busy getting all of my work done for back to school.  Tuesday, I'll be busy doing laundry and cleaning.  Then it's back to work I go on Wednesday.

Even though I'll be a busy bee over the next few days, there's still plenty of time left to enjoy.  Once the kids are all home there will be new games and toys to open and try out, movies to watch, and hot chocolate to drink.

I'm going to make the most of the last few days of this break...and then I start my new year off with a BANG!


Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday's Letters

Welp, Christmas is officially over, so it's time to start getting back to my regular scheduled programming.  Before I start thinking about plans for the new year, I'm going to write my last Friday's letters for 2012.

Dear Santa...  Thank you for such a wonderful Christmas.  This was one that will definitely go down in the history books as being one of the best we've ever had.  The kids were so happy with their gifts, I was so happy they were so happy, and everyone got along and had a great time.  I couldn't have asked for any more than I got, because it was absolutely perfect.

Dear Time... PLEASE slow down a little.  I've been off work for over a week, but it feels like I've only had a couple of days off work.  It's been go, go, go since the last day of school, and I can't believe I only have 5 more days left of my break.  I haven't even started doing any work to prepare for going back to school...and that's going to take me a couple of days.  I'd really appreciate it if you could just take it easy for a few days, and let me enjoy some of this time off.

Dear Weatherman... You told us all that there was going to be a pretty significant snow storm on Christmas.  I asked for you NOT to make that happen, because I did NOT want to have to travel in snow.  Somehow, I got my wish and not a single snow flake fell from the sky.  As I sat and watched the radar tell everyone that 2-4" of snow should be falling, we somehow managed to avoid it all.  You have no idea how thankful I am for that - but now I'd really like you to deliver some hefty snow on New Year's Day.  I don't have to travel - and giving me just enough snow to give me a few more days of Christmas break would just be swell.

Dear Tooth... Please stop hurting!  That is all.

Dear Housecleaning Fairy... I would really love it if you could make a little trip to my house.  No matter how much I try and put stuff away and get my house back to normal, it just doesn't want to cooperate.  My vacuum cleaner is just about on it's last legs and that's no good when there's so many carpets that need a good vacuuming.  I could really use your help right about now... if you have the time.

Dear New Year's Resolutions... I know I've said this time and time again, but I really want to stick with you this year.  I've got a nice list going that I plan to reveal to the world pretty soon - but I need some support with sticking to them.  2012 was the year a lot of my dreams came true...but 2013 needs to be the year I finally fulfill some of the other lifelong ambitions I've had for years, now.  It would be really great if this time next year I was checking off everything on that list of mine and celebrating all that I've accomplished.  We can do that, right?  Let's hope so.

Dear Everyone that Reads My Blog... I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.  I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support you've shown me through this year.  I know I've changed routine, changed my content, and changed my whole blogging persona - but I'm still finding myself, and this blogging journey has really helped me do that.  I have lots of wonderful things planned for my blog in 2013...and changing the name is NOT one of them.  I finally feel comfortable with the way I've got my blog laid out, and just need to move forward with my life and plans.  Not giving too much away about my resolutions, I will say that you are involved with that list.  I want to go back to being interactive with my blog followers, and I know that a lot of that has to do with interacting with the blogs that I read.  It's not fair to ask people to read and comment here when I rarely make any comments on your blogs.  That will be changing soon.  Until then, I hope you have a wonderful new year...and will talk to you all again, soon!


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Had a Holly Jolly Christmas This Year!

What a whirlwind the past couple of days have been.  The force of the whirlwind can be assessed by taking a look at my living room right now.  Boxes, toys, and stuff as far as the eyes can see.  But how could it be Christmas any other way, am I right?

The past three days have been wonderful.

Our Christmas celebrations started on Christmas Eve when we went to P-Momma's house for Christmas Eve dinner.  She cooked up a huge pan of mozzarella mashed potatoes with sausage, green beans, homemade bread, and deviled eggs.  We ate until our little hearts were content and then went straight in to opening presents.

My little Jelly had all of her Christmas wishes come true...almost...thanks to Grammy.  The first two things Jelly asked Santa for this year were a pair of Stompees slippers and a Cuddle-Up-It blanket.  Well, looky what Grammy bought for her...

Butter got the Nerf Crossbow thing he asked Santa for...

And Peanut got the bracelet making stuff she asked Santa for...

Grammy must have some great connections with the Big Guy.  She even managed to know that I wanted a gift certificate for a mani/pedi and Hubby just wanted cash... because that's exactly what we got!

After opening gifts, it was time for some homemade pecan and pumpkin pie.  We sat around and talked, drank coffee, and let the kids play for a while before it was time to head home to prepare for Santa's big arrival.

Once we got home, the kids made cookies for Santa and then we all watched Elf.  After the movie was over, we hung up the kids' stockings at the end of their beds, and I tucked them all in.  Then, I went to bed...once I made sure that Santa was clear for his arrival.

Christmas morning started at 4:30am!  The girls were the first to wake up.  I heard them and got out of bed myself.  I had set the coffee pot to make coffee at 5, so I had to start it myself.  I made the girls sweat for a while in their room while we waited for Butter to wake up.  He was up by Christmas morning started!

They came out of their rooms to discover that Santa must have been pretty happy with them this year...

It's kinda hard to tell from the picture, but there was close to 60 gifts under that tree for the kids.  Santa must have been REALLY happy.  I can't imagine what the tree would have looked like had they been perfect little angels all year.  HA!

It took us almost two hours to open gifts.  Each child opened a gift at a time, while everyone else watched.  We took a couple of breaks so that I could grab a cup of coffee, but the majority of the time was spent unwrapping.

I managed to get a few gifts, too.  Hubby and the kids bought me a new mini camcorder, a case for it, an electronic photo keychain, and a Frappachino maker.  I was shocked by so many gifts... especially since all that Hubby got was a deli meat slicer.  But thankfully, it's what he'd been wanting - so he was more than happy.

The highlight of the morning was when Peanut and Butter got to open up their last gift.  Each of them opened them at the same time.  They were the exact same shape and size.  Peanut was the first to discover a pair of headphones in hers, and then Butter found some...then digging a little deeper, they both realized what was at the bottom of the boxes... NEW iPODS!

I didn't catch the next part on camera, but Butter was so overwhelmed that he actually started crying.  Which, of course, made me start crying.  He's wanted an iPod for so long - and we told him that there was absolutely no way he'd get an iPod for Christmas.

The funny part is that he'd unwrapped a game specifically for an iPod and speakers for an iPod before opening up the iPod.  I made it appear that I had no idea the game was supposed to be for an iPod and that I'd messed up.  I apologized and told him that we'd take it back to the store and get him something else instead.  I told him that the speakers were to use with his MP3 player - which I knew was broken, but played dumb.  The poor guy was a little disheartened... until he opened up the actual iPod.   I'm so mean, but it really added the element of surprise for him. 

It was a very emotional and happy end to gift opening.  Everyone thought they were done... except for little Jelly.  There were just three things she wanted from Santa this year - Stompees, a Cuddle-Up-It, and a bike.  Grammy had taken care of the first two, but I explained to Jelly that Santa wouldn't be able to bring a bike because they were too big to fit on the sleigh.

Take a look in the picture of Butter opening up his iPod.  Do you see the thing sitting next to Jelly's little recliner?  The ugly, blue sheet sitting over the top of something?  Yeah, that had been there all morning, and nobody had taken it any notice...even though it had never been there before.

After all the excitement over the iPods died down, I asked Jelly if she'd take that sheet into my bedroom for me.  She walked over to it, grabbed it, and then discovered that it was covering something up.  Yep.  Her new bike...

More tears sprung to my eyes at seeing her excitement and pure joy on her face.

It was such a wonderful morning.  The kids got EVERYTHING they had asked for, and lots they didn't ask for.

After a little while of opening up boxes and letting the kids play with their new stuff, it was time to head to Grandma's.  We headed out a little earlier than usual because we were supposed to get hit with 2-4" of snow Christmas day.  I had asked Santa for no snow...and he listened, because not a single flake fell at all.

Christmas at my parents' was awesome.  We had a lot of fun, there was no arguing, the food was fantastic, and everyone enjoyed themselves.

Yesterday morning, we all got up and Jelly told me she wasn't feeling very well.  A quick feel of her forehead told me something was wrong.  She was running a pretty high fever and spent the entire day sleeping on the couch.  Hubby and I decided we should head home after dinner, and mom offered to keep Peanut and Butter for a few days.

Jelly's fever broke last night, and she's back to her normal bouncy self today.  Peanut and Butter are spending some quality time with their grandparents, and I'm enjoying some quality peace and quiet.

I really couldn't have asked for a better Christmas.  I'm a little sad that it's all over already, but it always goes by so quickly.

Today, I need to go and get some groceries and clear the tornado devastation from the living room... but other than that?  I think a day or two of relaxation is most definitely in order.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Just Let Me Do the Talking...

Yesterday, I did something that seemed to be a big fail on my part.  I wrote a blog post asking for advice from my readers and friends.

I made some big mistakes, apparently, by the overwhelming lack of even one single comment.

Don't worry - I don't blame anyone but myself.  Rookie mistakes were made...and I'm no rookie at the blogging world anymore.  I've been here a while, and I know the rules of the game.

1.  Even though I changed my blog months ago to no longer be a weight loss only blog, the majority of my followers are weight loss or healthy living bloggers. 

2.  I know if I want to blog about something that needs advice or feedback - NEVER do it on a Saturday.  People have lives and aren't glued to their computers on the weekends.  I forget about that.

3.  Not only did I post on a Saturday, but I posted on the Saturday right before Christmas.  Urrmmm... can you say, Stupid!!  I went to Wal-Mart on Friday, I know how crazy busy the shopping season still is. 

4.  My blog has been quiet for months.  A lot of that has to do with the time of year, and a lot more of it has to do with that I don't quite fit in to the network that I created for myself.

It's OK.  I'm not mad or upset.  The quite opposite, in fact. 

How many times have I written that I don't write this blog for the sake of anyone else but myself?  Yeah... a lot.  And that's 100% true.  I don't care if a single person reads my blog or comments or shares my posts.  It's all about writing out my feelings and life and documenting it. 

And I'm OK with that.

These last few days before Christmas, I'm going to remember how busy everyone else is.  I'm going to hope that everyone is enjoying this time of year with family and friends, making merry. 

The new year is right around the corner, and that's when I need to be thinking about new ventures and ideas and changes to my blog life.  Again. 

Until then, I'm just going to enjoy my time...write what's on my mind...and soak up every bit of Christmas that's left.

Just two more days left until Christmas!!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Are Craft Fairs and Online Stores in My Future?

So, I've been thinking a lot lately about selling some of my crochet items.  I've hesitated because I'm not a "professional" crocheter.  I'm self taught, and dabble around in following patterns and creating my own.  I love it, though.  So much that I've made several items these past few weeks and just given them away.  People have called me crazy.  They've told me over and over that I should be selling my stuff... but I don't know if I consider my stuff good enough to sell.

Last year, I made character hats.  They were my thing.  I noticed that all the kids were wearing them, and rather than going out and spending $20 per kid for my own children to have one, I decided to just try making them myself.

These are the first character hats I produced...

Definitely some room for improvement, but not bad at all for my first attempts - especially since I made up my own patterns.

This year, character hats are still "in" and I noticed that sock monkey hats had taken a lot of the limelight.  Butter wanted one, so I decided to try and pull one of those off.  Coming up with this...

The mouth is a little crocked, but an easy fix.  Butter seemed happy with it, anyway.  Jelly, not wanting to be left out, decided she wanted a monkey hat (her favorite animal) but gave me specific instructions.  The monkey had to be wearing a black hat with a pink flower on it.  I'd been making some hats with flowers, and she wanted me to combine both.  OK, no problem...

I think the thing looks terrifying... but Jelly loves it.  She says it looks like a monkey, it's wearing the hat she requested, another satisfied customer.

Because the hats are very time consuming and require lots of sewing and separate parts, I wanted to start making stuff that were a little easier to knock out.  That began my interest in headbands.  I knocked these out in less than an hour each...

Then, a friend mentioned to me that I should try and make some infinity scarves.  I had never heard of them - but after a quick online search I realized that they were in pretty high demand - with pretty darn high prices.  A few days and a couple balls of yarn later, I had these to add to my collection...

Please excuse my reluctant model.  The gray one should be worn a little more bunched up, but Peanut wanted to show off the pattern.  All three patterns are from my own creation, by the way.

And finally, yesterday afternoon, a friend asked me if I'd make him a slouchy hat.  Again, having no idea what that was, a quick search online gave me my answer...and so I made him this...

The back view shot isn't Peanut - I took that photo last night after I was all finished.  Once again, my own pattern, very simple to make, and quite the current trend from what I hear.

I don't think that's a bad lineup of items.  I've also made tons of regular beanies and scarfs and even fingerless gloves. 

So, what do you think?  Am I ready to start branching out and selling items?  Do I make items to order or do I make a bunch of stuff and sell what I've made?

Come on, I know there has to be a few people out there with some advice for this novice crocheter.

One thing I have decided on is that I refuse to charge exorbitant prices.  The price of the yarn plus a couple of bucks for my time should do it.  I'm definitely not going to charge the $20+ prices I've seen these items sell for.

Help a gal out...what should I do?  Any recommendations on how to sell, where to sell, etc. is greatly appreciated.  You don't have to be someone that sells stuff - just a person with an opinion.



Friday, December 21, 2012

The Final Letter to Santa

Dear Santa,

Yep.  It's me again.  Bet you didn't realize you were going to be getting three letters from me this year.  Here we are just three days before your big day.  I hope you're getting plenty of rest for your long night....there are so many kids counting on you to be on your game Monday night.

My first letter to you was about giving my students a great Christmas.  Last week, I wrote to you with a few requests of my own.  Today, I want to write with a few requests for the entire country that I live in.

Last Friday, while writing a letter to you with silly requests for myself, I had no idea of the events that would take place just a few hours later.  The first crime that actually brought me to heart wrenching sobs since 9/11.  Twenty beautiful, innocent, unknowing children had their lives taken away from them for no rhyme or reason except some idiot wanted to leave this world making a name for himself.  Why he had to take so many innocent children and loving teachers with him will probably always remain a mystery - but he did.  Just a mere week and a half before Christmas.

Now, that small town in Connecticut is banding together to provide comfort and help to the victims' families and friends.

Unfortunately, rather than using this horrible crime as a way to band together the country at this very important time of year, the country once again becomes divided in a stupid, pointless argument about gun control and gun laws.  I know, I'm as sickened and disappointed as you probably are.

Regardless of which side of the fight you are on, the truth remains that criminals will continue to commit crimes.  People will still kill.  Lives will continue to be shattered.  No amount of new laws will change that... because it's the law breakers committing these crimes.  I just wish more people would understand that.  At this most devastating time, people are missing an opportunity to spread love and support.  They'd much rather take to their social media outlets and argue and fight over pointless matters.  It just breaks my heart.

I think you know where I'm going with this, don't you?  Yes.  I want you to try and sprinkle some love and unity across this country on your trip.  I don't know if you have that kind of magic... but I can hope.  Help people see that fighting is what causes more problems.  If we could just come together - unite as one - then this country would be so much better off.

After hearing the news last Friday, my first reaction wasn't to blurt off about more guns being in the schools, that more people should be allowed to carry guns, or that guns should be banned.  My first reaction was that I wanted to hug my children and my students.  I wanted to show them that violence is never the answer, and that they could always come to me when they were having a tough time, there were people out there that could always provide support and comfort to them if they needed it.  I wanted to explain to them that "making a name for themselves" could come from discovering a cure for a disease, starting a company that helps people, winning sporting games, teaching children.....good, honorable things.  A bad name is not a name they want to create for themselves.  Ever.

This Christmas, what I would like more than any gift that I can unwrap on Christmas morning is to just have love and happiness in my home, my town, my state, and my country.  For people to stop getting on to social media sites and arguing and fighting.  It's so much to ask...too much... but a hope and dream I will always carry with me.

Yesterday, I stopped and gave a homeless man a hamburger.  I could have looked at him holding his sign in the bitter cold and mumbled to myself about how he should go and get a job and leave people alone, which I'm sure many people were mumbling to themselves as they drove by him... but I didn't.  I gave him a hamburger that cost me all of $1.  A small gesture on my part, but a huge deal to him.  He thanked me as if I had just given him the keys to a brand new car.  He then said "Merry Christmas, God bless!"  It brought a tear to my eye that my first thought wasn't that I had really helped this guy in a small way, but what people would say to his well wishes.  How terrible is that?  My first thought went straight to the other point of interest on Facebook - the dreaded Merry Christmas greeting.  I definitely took no offense to his greeting - and said the exact same thing to him.  I was touched that a man in this situation would still wish me well this holiday season.

So, my dear Kris Kringle, this year I ask for the impossible.  I ask for the same thing that many people have asked for but never received - the gifts of peace, love, and happiness for an entire nation.  I just hope that one day, my wish can come true.  It may not be in my lifetime, but I will dedicate everything I have to send away students from my classroom with that desire and wish in their hearts.  It may only be 20 students a year, but it soon adds up.  If I can help 20 students a year, and they all help 20 people, and then those people help another 20 people.... one day things in this country can be a lot better.

Merry Christmas, Big Guy.  Safe Travels.  


Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Break! Let the Fun Begin!

Who's the girl that waits weeks and weeks for the sweet moment of being able to sleep in on a Thursday and then gets up at 6am on that Thursday?  Oh yes.  This girl right here.

First day of Christmas break, and I'm asleep on the couch by 9pm the night before and up at 6am the morning of.  Craziness, I tell ya!

But it's OK.  I've got two more weeks to sleep in and stay up late.  Don't have to do everything I wanted to do on the very first day, right?

Yesterday was EX-HAUS-TING!  But so much fun.  The day started out with 18 crazy 4th graders bustling in to the room bringing TONS of food.  And I mean TONS.  We had 60 small bags of chips, 6 big bags of chips, 3 dozen cookies, 24 cupcakes, 24 mini cupcakes, 24 juice bottles, 24 packages of Capri Sun, 24 cans of soda, animal crackers, and the mini cheesecakes that Hubby made for the kids.  Did I mention there are only 18 kids in my class?  Yeah.  Sugar and carb OVERLOAD.

The kids watched a Christmas movie for a while until it was time to walk the streets of town to do some caroling.  We walked over to the Methodist Daycare (where Jelly happens to go) to sing for the little kids.  The entire 4th grade and 6th grade, accompanied by the Glee Club.  That's a lot of kids to fit in to a small daycare.  But, it went really well, and all the kids enjoyed it.  Then it was back to school to finish up the Christmas movie before going to lunch.

After lunch, my class made elf donuts before starting their Christmas party.  It was a sticky mess trying to get frosting and powered sugar and cinnamon sugar all over tiny Cheerios - but boy, did they have fun.  The kids put the "donuts" in to little gift boxes they had made themselves and finished them off with some ribbon.  I guarantee that less than half of those boxes actually made it home to the kids' Christmas trees... but oh well.

We had a few parents show up for the party, and the kids had a great time.  I made the executive decision to put away half of the food the kids had brought for a party after Christmas.  There was just no way I could sit there and watch them try and munch down on all that food.  So, they enjoyed some chips, cookies, a cupcake, a cheesecake, a juice bottle, and a soda.  Still way too much in my opinion, but it's Christmas.

By the time the last kid left my room for the day, I was absolutely beat - and my classroom was a disaster.  I spent an hour cleaning up and taking down the Christmas decorations... because my classroom won't see me again until the first day back to school.  Then, I was able to go home.

My original plan for my first day of Christmas break was to do absolutely nothing.  Then I remembered that Butter has a doctor's appointment, and I have to go back up to the school to pick up the movie I forgot, and I have to go and find something for dinner tonight.  Not exactly the lazy, do nothing day I was hoping for.

I'm not worried, though.  In reality I kinda knew that the few days left before Christmas wouldn't be spent sitting around doing nothing.  There's still a lot to do... starting with cleaning the house.  UGH!  I'm not going to complain.  I've waited too long for this time off - so I need to enjoy each and every minute of it...even if it is doing stuff I really don't want to do.

It's hard to believe that there's only 5 days left until Christmas.  I still have a few things to wrap and a few gift cards to pick up.  Other than that, I'm pretty ready to go.  I'm going to get shopping out of the way today so I don't have to try and beat the crowds this weekend.  I'm not that crazy.

Alright, I'm off to enjoy my first day of break.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Final Day Of Teaching!!!

For 2012, anyway.

This is the day that I've been counting down anxiously both in my head, and on my board at school.  The kids have watched the numbers dwindle down from double digits, to single digits, and now down to zero. 

It is the last day of school before Christmas break... YAY!!!!

It has been such a good week, and I have been overwhelmed with the blessings and joy that have been brought to me both by my teaching family and the kids.

On Monday, one of my 4th grade counterparts (who also happens to be my mentor) bought me a new Tiger watch, a large candy cane coffee mug, and a pair of aloe socks.  Yesterday, my other 4th grade counterpart bought me a beautiful new shirt and a new pinkie ring that's gorgeous!  I also got a big bottle of bubble bath from my co-teacher that looks like a huge Christmas cute!  I was deeply touched by the wonderful gifts.  I work with such fantastic people.

Being that I'm so warm and fuzzy this morning...feeling that is...I thought I'd take this opportunity to take a look back at 2012.  What a year it's been, that's for sure.  It's a year that will go down in my history books because it was the year that one of my biggest dreams finally came true.

January - I started the year out exactly how I've started every year out for as many years as I can remember... thinking about losing weight.  2013 will be no exception.  I'm a little embarrassed to say that I've started over too many times to count, but the fact that I keep starting over reminds me that I haven't completely given up on the prospect that one day I won't be so big.  I've done it before - I can do it again.

February - Working as a teacher's aide, this was the month when the thoughts of trying to find a teaching job, AGAIN, started fuzzing around in my mind.  Would I be able to find a job in the district I was working?  Would I be able to get a job in the school I was working in?  So many people were filling me with hope and optimism that this would be my year...and that I'd be exactly where I was supposed to be.  Meaning the school I was working in.  Unbeknownst to them, there were different plans in the making.

March - My momma turned 50..even though she doesn't look a day over 40.  I took my first family camping trip.  I gained more weight, and worried even more about finding a job.

April - I participated in the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure.  My third year doing it, my first year not even attempting to run.  Peanut and I walked the whole thing.  Even though I was happy I still did it, I wasn't happy that I had let myself get to a point where running wasn't an option - again.  I started looking in to a new diet program called The Writing Diet.  No real gimmicks or restrictions - just writing about my feelings before I ate away my feelings.  And you know what?  It worked for me.  Unfortunately I didn't stick with it.  Broken record, or what?  This was also the month that I really jumped in to the job hunt.  Can we say stress eating?  Oh yes.  By the tons.

May - What a complete and utter rollarcoaster of a month this one was.  I started out the month in one of the lowest places I'd ever let myself get.  I had been shunned and turned away from any job prospects in the district I was working in.  The school district I'd spent a year trying to impress, giving it my all, working my tail end off for as a teaching assistant just gave me that smile and said "We appreciate you, we just don't want to offer you a teaching's much more cost effective to pay you as a teacher's assistant".  OK, so they weren't the actual words given to me - but that's exactly how I felt.  Only a couple of interviews and absolutely no prospects.  I was devastated.  Then, I received a phone call from a different district in a different state.  A phone call that didn't really hold much weight for me - because if I couldn't get a job in the district I'd worked in for a year... why on earth would I get a job in a district that didn't know me from Adam?  But you know what?  That didn't matter!  On May, 18th 2012, I got to hear the words I'd literally waited most of my life to hear "We'd like for you to come and teach in our school".  Overwhelmed?  Huh, I didn't know the meaning of the word until that day.  Tears, joy, happiness, relief...all rolled in to a few minutes.  The day had come that would forever change my life, yet I still didn't know how truly blessed I was going to be.

June - The end of being a teacher's assistant, the beginning of summer break knowing that in a few short months I was going to be stepping foot in to my own classroom.  How did I celebrate?  By spending the entire month living at my parent's babysitting for them while they went to England.  It was a horribly long month, let's leave it at that.

July - Back home in my own place, enjoying the summer.  I spent a lot of time making plans and preparations for my new classroom, boxed up a lot of stuff, and enjoyed sleeping and spending time with my kiddos.

August - This was it.  Dream come true, part II.  Stepping in to my first classroom...MY CLASSROOM.  I worked for days and days to get it just right.  Then, on August 16th, I became a teacher.  My first day teaching, my first day with my amazing bunch of kiddos, one of the best days of my life!

September - I was getting the hang of stuff.  I was overwhelmed by the amount of work I had to do.  I was loving every minute of it!  I really started getting to know the wonderful people I was working with and truly understood why I had been selected to be part of their family - because it's just where I belong.

October - First classroom party.  This was a fun one.  The kids were rocking it and making amazing gains in all areas.

November - Another amazing month... holidays, tests, work, and happiness.  My head was spinning by how quickly time had flown by, and that in no time at all I was going to be preparing for Christmas.

December - Here we are.  The love for my life and my job has only grown in the past month - if that's even possible.  The first half of my first year teaching has been everything I thought it would be and so much more.  I can't even put in to words how much love and happiness I have in my life right now.  I work with THE most amazing group of people I've ever met in my life.  I have the best kiddos in my classroom that bring me smiles and laughs each and every day.  Today is the last day I get to be with them for 2012 - and I'm going to do everything in my power to make it the best day before Christmas break they've ever had.  Because I owe it to them...they have made each and every day since August my best days EVER!

I'm looking forward to ya, 2013... but it sure is going to be tough to beat such an amazing year as 2012.


Monday, December 17, 2012

What Do You Say?

I debated on whether or not I should post anything this morning. Some people have posted that today is a blogger's day of silence for the honor and remembrance of the Connecticut victims - others have said it's tomorrow.  I've decided that I'm going to participate tomorrow.  All you will see on this blog tomorrow is this badge...

It was tough for me to go to sleep last night.  I laid there and thought about some of the questions I may get this morning.  Will the kids want to know why it happened?  Will they want to know if it's going to happen to them?  How to do I make them feel safe?

So many questions.

And then I realized that the answers won't come in form of words...they will come in the form of my actions.  We will continue to live our lives.  We will honor those precious children and heroic teachers by enjoying each and every day.  I will hug them a little tighter, and love them even more - if that's even possible.

I can honor them by not spending our last three days of school before Christmas break being sad.  I can make it fun.  I can be happy.  I can make those children happy.  We can laugh, and play, and be merry.

And we can not be scared.

During the moment of silence at school this morning, I know where my thoughts will be.  I know who they'll be with.  They will be the thoughts I've had since Friday, and will probably have for many, many weeks to come.  They will be with those precious angels.  They will be with those wonderful teachers.  They will be with my own children...all 21 of them counting my biological and non-biological children.

Our nation is grieving.  And rightly so.  But for the sake of the wonderful children that will step in to my classroom this morning, they won't be greeted with a sad face...they'll be greeted with my normal smile, my normal embrace, and my normal excitement about the day's events.

If the questions come, I'll answer them the best way that I know how.  Because something occurred to me last night, while having a tough time falling asleep.   There is no preparation for a tragedy of this magnitude.  There is no script provided in text books or school contracts or handbooks.  This one comes directly from the source of what made me become a teacher in the first place - my heart.  It is with love and passion that I followed my heart to fulfill my lifelong dream - and that was with the understanding that there'd be good times and bad.  My heart knows what to do - what to say.  And I trust it.  For it gives me the strength and courage to do everything in my power to love those children as if they were my own.

And that's something I do everyday...without even thinking about it.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

'Twas the Week Before Christmas Break...

'Twas the week before Christmas break, and all through the day
Not a plan was to be written, not a word to say
The worksheets were printed and placed on the desks with care
In hopes that no grades would cause any despair

The children would be excited and crazy as can be
While a test will be given, in fact there'll be three
And teacher in her Christmas sweater and hat
Would try to get through it without needing a bat

Out in the hallways will be noise and a huge clatter
Of children all brimming with excitement and chatter
Away to the doorway I'll fly like a flash
And I'll share and complain about my lack of cash

My teacher friends and I will be hiding a glow
Of our excitement about the break, without letting the kids know
For all that we want our wondering ears to hear
The last bell to ring of this current school year

While the kids all dream of the visit from St. Nick
The teachers think some sleep will just do the trick
More rapid than eagles the time needs to fly
For these next three days, to hurry and go by

"Now Caleb, stop talking! Billy what on earth is the matter?
No, Damian, I don't plan on getting any fatter.
 Don't forget your backpacks from the wall
Now get out of here..go...there's no more school!"

Before I can get to that wonderful dismissal
I have to contain a room full of missels
They'll fly around the room like wild leaves, alright
And again I'll yell for them to get to their desks and sit tight

And then, in a twinkling, I'll hear through the 'com
That the Christmas concert must go on
As I withdraw my head from banging the wall
I'll put on a Christmas movie and settle them all

I'll be dressed all in glitter and crumbs from my head to my feet
After the Christmas party, and getting to eat
A bundle of goodies I'll break out from my desk
And let the kids open them and take care of the rest

Their eyes won't twinkle, nor will they be very merry
When they discover there's nothing wrapped to fill their bellies
I'll arrange my mouth to look like a bow
When I tell them to be grateful, even just for show

The stump of a pencil I'll hold in my teeth
While I explain the purpose for making a cute little wreath
They'll trace around their hands with finesse and care
Then chop off a drawn finger, and tape will be there

 I'll think about how much I look like a jolly old elf
And that weight loss must come, I'll think to myself
Not something to wonder at this time of year
Just make it through these last days, the end is so near

 I'll speak not a word as the last minute gets close
I'll just hold my breath, just the last little dose
As waiting and counting the last seconds down
And giving a nod, as the bell starts to sound

I'll run to my car with a scream and a cheer
The day that I thought wouldn't come is finally HERE!
But I'll say to myself as I drive out of sight
Have a wonderful Christmas, my loves, and get plenty of sleep at night!

And I wrote this myself!!!  Property of Joanna - 12/16/12


Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Words of a Teacher, a Mother, and Just a Person With a Heart

Yesterday morning, I was in a great mood.  I was full of excitement and happiness about the day that was going to unfold.  All of the kids in the school were going to be participating in a school wide Christmas celebration.  I would be hosting craft sessions with my class, 3rd graders, 8th graders, and 7th graders.  The kids were excited.  There was a fun buzz to the air.  The week was finally coming to end, and the day was going to end with a celebration.

Then, just as I was about to lead my kids out for recess after lunch, someone told me something that buckled me at the knees and took all the wind out of me.  "Did you hear about the shooting in Connecticut at an elementary school?  They say about 20 kids were killed?"  I stood there, in shock.  I looked at my class - standing there patiently waiting for me - and my eyes filled with tears.

I shook it off.  I had to.  I couldn't let my kids see fear or pain in my eyes... it wasn't fair to them.  I had nothing more than a brief encounter of the news to go on...and I just had to leave it at that, for the sake of the kids.  My kids.

I went out for recess duty even though it was my day off.  I didn't have to, but for some reason I just couldn't let my kids out of my sight.  I sat with the other teachers, and they shared what they had heard.  The early rumors, the early reports. 

Something stirred in me after those conversations.  The excitement I had felt about the approaching celebration started to slip away.  All that filled my head were the thoughts of my biological and non-biological children roaming the hallways as they moved from classroom to classroom for the entire afternoon.  I didn't want them out there.  I didn't want them exposed.  They needed to be with me, where I could see them. 

I tried to push down all of the fear and regrets.  The show must go on - just for the sake of the kids.  Thankfully, I was able to buckle down and have a good time... the whole time wondering where my kids were, what they were doing. 

The day ended.  Everyone had a lot of fun.  All of the staff were called for a quick meeting to be briefed on the events.  As my principal stood in front of us to give us the news that had been reported, there weren't many dry eyes in the place.  Twenty-six people had their lives taken by a shooter... about 20 of them being small children between the ages of 5 and 10.  We stood there in shock and horror.  The only question in our minds was WHY?  The only question that will probably never be answered.

When I arrived at Jelly's daycare, I rushed in to get her.  I stood there hugging her, fighting back even more tears.  The drive home, I kept an upbeat conversation going.  I soaked in the moments of time that were passing me by while we laughed together.  My heart swelled as my blessings were hitting me.  My three beautiful children, with me, safe.

It occurred to me that I take moments like that for granted.  The little moments.  Times when we have silly conversations and laugh.  Times where we all sit in front of the TV together. Times when we share about our day.  I hope that, moving forward, those little moments will be a little more important to me now.  I have to bask in them.  Create them.  Live for them.  Being a mother is a job with the greatest of benefits and pay.  No money enters my hand - but I'd rather take laughs and hugs than money ANY DAY. 

And then there's my actual job.  In all of the years that I've wanted to be a teacher, I've never taken a moment to think about what I would do in situation like this one.  I suppose it's because I've been one of those people that claim that stuff like that wouldn't happen to me.  But, looking at the news as it unfolds - I believe that the teachers in that building felt the same way.  It was a small town, low crime rate, small children.  Why on earth would a school like that be a target?

Now, it's all I'm thinking about.  I've never felt such an overwhelming feeling of desperation, panic, or love for children that were not my own as I did yesterday.  The kids that come in to my classroom each day aren't related to me.  They aren't of my blood.  In plain terms, they are just my job.  They are the products I manufacture and mold to pass out of the assembly line.  Except they're not.

They may not be blood, but they are my family.  I would do whatever it took to protect them - I know that without a shadow of a doubt.  And I hope with everything inside of me, that if the day ever came where my biological children were with their teachers and something horrible happened - their teachers would feel the same way about them as I do about the kids in my class.

In a devastating, heinous act such as this one that took place in Connecticut, the realization of the importance of my job comes brimming to the surface at terrifying speeds.  I am not just a teacher.  My job is not just about teaching kids.  I am a protector.  A caregiver.  A defender of children.  An advocate for the development of young minds.  A creator of dreams.  A solider for protecting those dreams.  My service to these children does not begin at 8am and end at 3pm.  It starts in August, and never ends.  Each August, I just add more names to the roster.  The kids from the previous year may not be in my classroom anymore, but they are never gone from my heart. 

I took an unspoken pledge when I became a teacher.  I pledged to the parents who entrust me with the lives of their most sacred gifts, that I would protect those lives, love each and every one of them as if they were my own, provide them with care and love, show them the importance of education and the importance of having a mission in life.  I will forever live by that pledge.  Now more than ever.

I didn't become a teacher for the money.  I didn't become a teacher to teach math or reading.  I didn't become a teacher for the summers and holidays off.  I became a teacher because the lives of children mean something to me.  I want to be a part in molding the future generation.  I want to give love to children who desperately need it, and provide even more to those who already get their fair share. 

I am a teacher.  I am a mother. 

And because of those two things, I am honored and privileged with the blessings in my life.  The lives of children.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday's Letter... TO SANTA

Dear Santa,

It's me again.  One of your loyal subjects, devoted to preserving a magic set forth at Christmas time by you.  I wrote to you last week asking that you try your best to spread some magic in the households of each of my students.  I have to say that I'm pretty upset that I got an email this week telling me that the small Christmas presents I ordered for each of my students are now on back order and won't be available until after Christmas.  Not really a great way to help me out there, Big Guy.

I know it's not your fault, and you can't possibly control the goings on of a company - but now that they won't be getting that little something from me, it's even more important that you help me out with that request I sent you last week.

This week, I do have a few small things I want to ask for completely for myself.

1.  Please make time go by faster!  This week has been the longest week ever and I just need to you to push the fast-forward button a little next week so that the first three days of the week fly by and put me on Christmas break.

2.  Please send me an elf to borrow to wrap gifts.  Wrapping gifts is fun, for a while, but it soon gets kinda boring.  I would love a little elf helper that can come and get it all over with for me.

3.  Please sprinkle some Christmas spirit over my children so that they stop arguing with each other and get along...even if it's just for the short time between now and Christmas.

4.  Please sprinkle some of that Christmas spirit on me at work and help me get out of this funk of dragging around the school looking like someone just stole my puppy.  Everyone knows I'm tired and I'm ready for Christmas Break, but I don't have to be so obvious about it.  I need to buck up and make the most of the last few days - and have fun.

5.  Read my letter, have a little chuckle to yourself, do what you can, but don't take any effort away from helping out with my last letter.  Seriously, I'd much rather go on with days that last forever than to take one second of your attention away from making a kid's Christmas special.

Writing these little letters to you really helps remind me what I have in my life, and what I need to be thankful for each and every day.  Boo-hoo I want it to be Christmas break.  Doesn't everyone?  I should be thanking all things holy that I even get a Christmas break and have plenty of time to spend with my family.  Many people aren't that lucky.  Some won't even get Christmas day off to spend with their loved ones.  Who am I to complain, whine, or ask for anything?

Alright, I need to go and get ready for work.  Thankfully, there is a giant Christmas celebration going on this that is bound to keep me excited and full of Christmas spirit.

Thanks for taking the time to read this - I know how busy this time of year is for you.