Saturday, November 30, 2013

Day Thirty: Today, I'm Thankful for Everything I've Had to be Thankful For All Month Long


Can you believe it's the last day of November?  That means there's only 25 days until Christmas.  Three weeks, people!!  And I haven't really done a lick of Christmas shopping.

Thankfully, Peanut and I are going to get a good start on that today.

Speaking of sure has been one heck of a month, hasn't it?  Who would have guessed that I had so much in my life to be thankful for?  Well, I would.  Because, the truth of the matter is, I could keep going if I wanted.  I don't think I could ever really run out of stuff to be thankful for.  Each and every day that I wake up, I should start my day at least being thankful that I made it that far.

And, I have to say, it's quite the feat to be able to fit as many "Thankful Photos" in to one collage.  I had to select the ones that were the most important to me over the past twenty nine days and fit them in to that photo, somehow.  You'll notice that my coffee photo didn't make it in to the cut.  Surprising, right?

The top left are all the photos of my family.  My kids, Hubby, my parents, P-Momma, and Katniss.  Those are the people that I love more than anyone in this world.  Those are the people that have molded me, guided me, shaped me, and put up with me...and are responsible for me being the person that I am today.  All of them.  Yes, even Katniss.  Because even a feline that I love like one of my children has her way of helping me see the good in bad situations or turning frowns upside down.  So, if you happen to be reading this and can't stand the person that I am... there are your targets...the people to blame.  It's all their fault!! HA!

I know that I wouldn't be where I am today, or be able to write all of these thankful posts without them. All of them have been in my life through the good and bad, thick and thin, ups and downs.  And no matter what I've put them through, they've all made it to the other side still loving me, caring for me, and teaching me the joys and comfort that life has to offer.  

My parents taught me the values I hold strong in my heart.  They taught me how to fight for what I want, work hard, follow my dreams, be independent, and never take anything for granted.  My children taught me unconditional love, and that there is no greater fear on this earth than one of them being in danger or getting hurt.  That I could and would move mountains for them, and travel to Hell and back, if they needed me to.  Hubby taught me that there is another man on this planet, besides my dad, that can love me, care for me, and treat me like a princess.  That there's another man on this planet, besides my dad, that can put up with all of my personality traits, accept the fact that I work too hard and love every second of it, and that no matter what our differences are, he's still going to be there for me.  P-Momma taught me that it is possible to love another woman like a mother, without it replacing any of the love I have for my own mother.  That blood doesn't have to be thicker than water in order to use the word "family".  That no matter what, she's there for us.  She is a grandmother to my children, a mother to Hubby and I, and is there for me anytime that I need her.  And Katniss.  Oh, Katniss.  She has taught me that some cats really do have great personalities.  They are loyal and faithful, they are caring and considerate.  She knows my moods, knows when I need her just to snuggle and make me feel better.  She knows how to make me laugh.  And, she's willing to put up with being carried around like a stuffed animal by Jelly because she knows that it makes me love her even more.

The top right picture contains the pictures of all my children that happily and lovingly call me "Mom" or at least treat me as if I'm like a mother to them.  They bring joy in to my life each in their own way.  Whether it be a hug when they see me in the hallway, by sending a text message just asking how my day is going, or walking down to my room each and every day just to say hi.  They are very close friends with Peanut, but they have each built their own special relationships with me...and I care about each and every one of them very much.  I became a teacher so that I could build strong, lasting relationships with my students, but I never imagined building such strong relationships with kids I never taught...that just happen to have taken the time to get to know because they are friends with my oldest child.  I have laughed with them, cried with them, and let them yell out their frustrations to me.  While dealing with my tough situation that I've been dealing with, three of those kids have gone above and beyond to help me through it.  

That handsome football player has been there for Peanut.  In more ways than I could ever describe.  That boy would walk to the ends of the earth if it would make Peanut feel better.  He is always a phone call or text message away when she needs him.  And I feel OK knowing that if she can't talk to me about what's bothering her, she can turn to him.  Because that's what true friends do.  He has helped Peanut through some of her darkest times, and always brings her out with a smile on her face and an understanding that nothing is as bad as she sometimes thinks.  

The happy, beautiful girl pictured with Peanut in the middle is also another great friend to Peanut.  She has spent more time at our house than any other friend, and always makes herself at home when she's here.  She endearingly calls me "Mom" and she knows how to make me laugh.  She has an old soul that adds to her charm.  And, any friend that manages to break Hubby out of his shell is A-OK with me!

The boy in the bottom left has become the closest thing to having another son.  He calls me "Mom" and actually means it.  When I broke the news to the kids about what was going on with the "situation", he happened to be there.  Even though it's not really in his nature to show much affection, he didn't hesitate to give me a hug.  And has pretty much every time he's seen me since.  I've gotten to know a side of him that he doesn't show many people.  He has to see me daily just to see how I'm doing, how my day is going, or just to say hi.  On the days we don't get to see each other, I can expect a text message asking all of the above.  He's good friends with Peanut, but he's also built relationships with Butter and Jelly.  They are like brothers, and brother and sisters.  After school each day, I can usually find him watching over Jelly outside on the playground, talking and laughing with Butter, or hanging out with Peanut and their other friends.  

It means a lot to me to have such great kids in Peanut's life...and in mine.  

The bottom left picture is my work family and my besties.  The people I work with, the kids I teach, and the secret pal that has made my last couple of months so much happier and brighter.  The two girls I've known since college, and have stuck by me, are the closest friends I could ever ask for.  I just couldn't ask for a better bunch of people to have in my life.  

My fourth grade team really are like a family away from my family.  We laugh together, cry together, stand by one another, and support each other.  I know that I can count on each one of them for anything work related...and even anything non work related.  I can tell them pretty much anything, and know that I will receive all the love, support, encouragement, and advice that I need.  

My principal has definitely helped me understand why it's spelt with PAL at the end.  She is my boss, but so much more.  She took a leap of faith when she hired me, and gave me a chance when nobody else would.  She's embraced and encouraged my outgoing and passionate personality.  She's given me words of advice, constructive criticism, and done everything in her power to help me be the best teacher I can be.  Not only that, but she's been a friend.  She's been there when I've needed her.  She's helped my biological children overcome fears and struggles.  She's guided them, nurtured them, and helped them realize that there's not another school in the world more suited for them than our school.  Her passion and drive are contagious, and there's not a single minute that goes by where she's not doing something to better the lives of her students, her faculty, and her school.  

The students are the reason I get up each and every morning excited about the day ahead.  They give me purpose, and a desire to care more than I probably should, believe in them, and push them to be the best that they can be.  I care about each and every one of them, and they all hold a special place in my heart.  I do what I do because I love working with kids, but the kids I get to work with every day make me realize that teaching is so much more than enjoying working with kids.  

And, I hate leaving out the rest of the staff I work with.  The people that took me in, made me one of them, and treat me as an equal each and every day.  They also help reinforce the fact that I'm exactly where I need to be, and there's not anything that would ever change that.

And, lastly, my besties.  I love them like sisters.  They've helped me in more ways than they could ever understand.  They've stood by me, supported me, and helped get me through the toughest two years of my life.  I know that I wouldn't have made it through my junior and senior years of college as well as I did had it not been for them.  I also wouldn't have made it through the tough year following college when I couldn't find a teaching job and almost gave up hope.  They kept me believing, kept encouraging me, and kept my head held high knowing that someone, somewhere would see my potential and give me the chance I was so desperate for.  I don't get to see them as much as I'd like, but whether it be days, weeks, or months that go by without seeing them... I know that when we do get together, we can pick up right where we left off and enjoy every minute together.

Wow, I had no intention of this post being so long.  I was going to merely explain my thanks for having so much to be thankful for... but I guess I had to highlight those people most important to me, once again, in order to do that.

This month really has been such an eye opening month.  It has helped me realize how much I take for granted.  To think of the amount of times I've sat here and complained and boo-hooed about stuff not going right, not having enough friends, minor problems that I blow way out of proportion.  

What this month has taught me is that I'm blessed beyond blessed.  I have everything a person could ever ask for, and more.  That for 30 days in a row, I've been able to sit here and share all the wonderful people I have in my life, all the wonderful things, all the wonderful experiences.  I truly feel like I couldn't have a better life than what I have now.  

And my goal is that I don't forget this month.  I take it with me and cherish it, remembering all I have to be thankful for.  I haven't done anything special to deserve so much happiness and love in my life... yet I have it.  How quickly I can forget what's important.  And these past 30 days have helped me realize what's truly important in life.

So, today, I'm thankful that I did this.  That I took a month to digest, embrace, and bring to light everything I have in my life that makes me who I am.  I have so much to be thankful for, and I just need to remember anytime I think life is a little tough.  

Tomorrow, my blog goes back to normal...sharing my daily goings on and life in general.  But, I have a feeling that there will be some changes.  Not so much complaining.  Not so much whining.  Because I'm turning over a new leaf.  I'm counting my blessings and plan on using this blog to capture those blessings.  

Life is a gift.  A gift to be cherished.  A gift to be cared for.  

And every minute of the remainder of mine, I want to be thankful for it.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Day Twenty Nine: I'm Thankful I had Absolutely NO Urge to Go BlackFriday Shopping!


That's it.  Thanksgiving is over, and the beginning of the Christmas season has arrived.  And for many, many people that means getting up at ungodly hours, standing in line for hours, fighting off crowds of people, to get a bargain and begin Christmas shopping.

It's always made me chuckle how so many people spend a day sharing how thankful they are for everything they have, only to turn into WWE wrestlers a mere 24 hours later in order to snag something they don't have.  At an unbeatable price.  This year, they didn't even have to wait 24 hours, they could head out right after Thanksgiving dinner to start their many stores were beginning their Black Friday sales at 6PM last night.

And I'm not sitting up here on my high horse casting judgement on anyone that ventures out in to the world of Black Friday shopping.  I say "More Power To Ya!"  Don't think for one second that I didn't scan every Black Friday ad I could get my hands on searching for any bargain that might peak my interest enough to turn me back in to a Black Friday Shopper.

Oh yes, I was once a Black Friday shopper.  I would get up in the middle of the night, drive to my selected store, park in the back of the parking lot because there was nowhere else to park...even arriving 2 or 3 hours early.  I would then mosey in to the store, and fight my way through crowds to find the item I wanted.  I'd stand in line for those 2 or 3 hours.  Then, the minute the cling wrap was removed by a very brave associate, I'd be rammed with a cart, shoved out of the way, sometimes be knocked off my feet, only to find that when I got my bearings again...the product I wanted was gone.  Only samarai ninja shoppers walking away with the loot I was supposed to be taking with me.

Several times, I would go home empty handed with only swollen ankles, bruised calves, a few minor lacerations, and a hurt ego to show for my Black Friday shopping experience.

I even decided one year to stay away from any of the high interest items.  I decided that I'd focus on stuff like clothes (those $8 jeans were a STEAL), or the $5 board games, or an art set that one of my kids had wanted that was only $10 compared to the usual $30 it would be a few hours later.  I managed to get a couple of board games, got the art set I wanted, and then fought my way towards the jeans only to get in to a tug-of-war match with a lady who's daughter was apparently the same size as mine.  

In my defense, I grabbed the jeans first...and she literally tried to swipe them out of my hands.  It wasn't as though we'd both been going for them at the same time.  I had them in my hands, was checking the waist band, and BAM.. I felt a tug where she tried to take them from me.  All I was able to get out of my mouth was "Really, Lady?"  The look she gave me at that point can only be described as something you see in a horror movie, when a person has been possessed.  And, once again, she tried to swipe the jeans from my hand.  As I stood there pulling on the jeans that were supposed to be mine, a flash of reality smacked me upside the head... or it could have been one of her accomplices, I don't know... and I realized how I looked standing there fighting for a pair of jeans.  Sure, Peanut needed jeans, and I wasn't exactly rolling in money.  Being able to buy jeans at half of what I'd normally pay was worth the drive and the lines..but it wasn't worth fighting over.  I let the jeans go.  All I could think was that lady wanted or needed them way more than I did.  

What's funny was that later in the day, we took a drive to another Walmart to pick up a few things that were NOT Black Friday related, and I found a ton of those $8 jeans still on sale.  I was able to pick up a few pairs of them with no fights, no crazy crowds, no women trying to take them from me.  Just a bunch that were left over free for the taking.  Well, $8 for the taking.  

And, it was at that moment that I realized it would be very hard to persuade me in to going out to do Black Friday again.  That the chances of any store selling anything I'd be so desperate to have in order to go through those experiences again were slim to none. 

So, today, I am thankful that I don't have any urges to go Black Friday shopping.  Last night, the kids and I got the Christmas tree up while thousands of people were braving the stores.  This morning, I slept in while thousands more were heading out to those early Black Friday stores.  And I'm OK with it.  

The way I look at it, I might have to spend a little more on Christmas presents being that I didn't take advantage of Black Friday sales, but I can't put a price on how much it means to my kids to do our Thanksgiving tradition of putting up our tree.  We spend that time together, sorting tree branches by color, doing our best to make our fake tree look like a real tree, untangling lights and garland, and then picking out the handmade ornaments I've collected over the years and reminiscing who made what and where.  I have ornaments that all three kids have made since they were itty bitty.  There are ornaments the kids bought me in the Sunday school Christmas shops.   There are ornaments the kids made at daycare, preschool, and in the church nursery.  I have held on to them, chrished them, and they are a part of our Christmas tree decorations each and every year.  

Peanut even made the comment that one day I'll have to retire some of them in order to make room for ornaments made by my grandchildren.  I'll get to that hurdle when it comes.

After the Christmas tree was up and lit, it was time to sit down for our other Thanksgiving tradition:  The first Christmas movie of the season.  Jelly got to pick, and we watched The Polar Express.  She even managed to make it through most of the movie before falling asleep, too!

While we watched the movie, we ate some of Hubby's homemade apple pie with ice-cream and drank egg-nog.  

During that time, the stores could have been giving out free TVs, laptops, and video game systems to every shopper and it still wouldn't have been worth trading that time in for any of those things.  Because it's the time with my kids that I cherish more than any TV, laptop, or video game system.  

Again, I want to say that I'm not writing this post to cast judgement on ANYONE that went Black Friday shopping.  I don't think I'm better than anyone else or that I think family time is more important to me than it is to Black Friday shoppers.  I know lots of people that include Black Friday shopping as one of their traditions.  Mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, best friends.  I've seen pictures of specially made Black Friday T-shirts that are made by groups that go each and every year together.  I've read posts about teams or couples that have gone out and laughed until they cried, enjoyed every single minute of their shopping experience.  And I think that's great.  

But, today, I'm thankful for how I got to spend the last few hours of Thanksgiving and my first few hours of Black Friday.  

I know that once today is over with, I'll get that urge to go out and do some Christmas shopping.  I will venture out tomorrow on the hunt for a few left over bargains.  I'll get a start on everything I need to pick up over the next couple of weeks.  

Just not today.  

Today, I'm taking the kids to see their grandparents.  Being that we didn't get to spend Thanksgiving with them yesterday, I want to go over there and see them for a while.  And I'm thankful that I get to do that.

So, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a successful Black Friday experience.  That's enough for me today, I've got some family to go visit.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Day Twenty Eight: I'm Thankful for Thanksgiving


Just two more days left to share what I'm thankful for.  I really thought I'd be having a tough time with it, by now.  I used to write a blog post called Ten Things Thursday, and had the hardest time coming up with ten random pieces of information to share.  It's amazing to me that after 28 days of selecting a different thing to be thankful for, I'm still going strong.

Today, of course, I'm thankful for this day.  What this whole month has been about...counting down to this day.  Thanksgiving.  A day to be thankful, to surround myself with family, and to eat...and eat...and eat.  

Even though I won't be spending Thanksgiving how I planned on spending it, or exactly how I wanted to, it will still be an amazing day.  Sure, I would have preferred if my parents and my siblings would have been here with me today.  With everything that's been going on, it was my decision to just keep Thanksgiving small and simple at our own houses.  But, I'm definitely not going to complain about the people I will be spending today with.  My wonderful family.  Hubby and the kids.  Couldn't ask for anyone that I'm thankful for more than them.

There's something about the holidays that opens up an inner Martha Stewart inside of me.  Makes me all warm and fuzzy.  Makes me want to cook and bake and make stuff.  Which is definitely NOT normal for me.

I don't cook.  Not really.  Every now and then, Hubby will force ask me to cook.  And, I will, but it won't be anything near as fancy or creative as he usually makes.  He's the chef in this house.  He comes up with some wonderful meals for our family, and I knew he was a keeper the first time he did that.  It's not that I can't cook, I just prefer not to.  When there's someone else in the house that's so good at it and enjoys it as much as Hubby does, why on earth would I do it?

There's just one day that has an exception to all of that, and that would be today...Thanksgiving.  Today is my day to be in the kitchen preparing all the goodies that my family will chow down on.  The only thing Hubby does is the turkey.  I would cook it, but Hubby feels a little left out if I don't assign him something to do.  By giving him the turkey, he can throw it in the roaster, check on it every once in a while, baste it with his own concoction, and stay out of my way while I'm preparing everything else.  

Oh, and he usually prepares some form of dessert.  This year he's making homemade apple pie.  I don't like pumpkin pie, so that's not a usual thing at our house on Thanksgiving.  It is when the whole family is here, but being that it's just us, we went with something everyone likes.

I even decided to have a go at preparing a dessert last night.  Jelly and I ran to the grocery store yesterday afternoon and picked up all the ingredients to make Buche de Noel... or Yule Log.  Here's what it looked like after making it...


It's missing the chocolate ganache in the picture, because I couldn't put that on until this morning. For someone that NEVER bakes, I was pretty impressed with how it turned out.  I'm pretty sure the cake wasn't supposed to crack the way it did as I was rolling it, because I think I overdid it just a little with the cream filling.  But, even without the ganache, it looks very "loggy", right?

Here's the picture of it all finished, with the ganache...


Not the prettiest thing you ever saw, but I think it's looks delicious.  I put a little too much ganache on it, so it made the "log" look more like a giant tree stump, but who's going to care as they are eating it?  I think I might put some powered sugar over the top before we eat it, to give it the appearance of snow.  

I'm pretty impressed with myself.  For someone that NEVER bakes, I think I did a pretty good job of it.  And everything is made from scratch, there's no boxed anything used in the creation of that dessert.

For the rest of today, I'll be preparing all of the "fixings" to go with dinner:  Roasted potatoes, sausage dressing, green bean casserole, corn, turkey gravy, and traditional Yorkshire Puddings.  The Yorkshire Puddings are an English thing, and no holiday dinner is quite right without them.  Of course, that's if they turn out right.  I haven't had the best luck the last few times I've made them.  Hubby made sure to boost my confidence by buying some heat and serve rolls..."just in case".  

Regardless of whether or not the food turns out "perfect", I am just thankful that we will have so much to eat and that we'll all be together.  I often get caught up in the minor details and don't really take any time to think about how grateful I should be and how thankful that I have as much as I do.  So, if something doesn't turn out just right, I won't stress, I won't get upset, I'll just move on and enjoy what we do have.

Once all the of the food is prepared and eaten, dishes are cleaned, and dessert has been inhaled, the kids and I will do our usual Thanksgiving tradition of putting up the tree, and then sitting down with some hot chocolate to watch our first Christmas movie of the year.  The kids are torn between Elf and Polar Express.  I couldn't care less what we watch, as long as we're all together.  

That's how our Thanksgiving day ends each and every year, and the end is just as important as the beginning.  I know that Thanksgiving is supposed to be a day dedicated to giving thanks, and isn't really supposed to have anything to do with Christmas... but it's a day that I give thanks, and start the Christmas season.  

It's just what I do.

I've spent almost an entire month being thankful, so I don't think it's too bad if I decide to use Thanksgiving Day as the beginning of the Christmas season.  At least I waited.  I know so many people that started their Christmas decorating WEEKS ago!  That's one thing I refuse to do.  Thanksgiving deserves some limelight...and I give it what it's due.  

My goal for this year, however, is that I don't just remember all that I'm thankful for during the month of November.  I really want to remember all of this each and every hour, day, and month that passes.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself... I'm spoiling what I plan on writing about in a couple of days.  

Right now, I have tons of food to start preparing, so I'm going to go.

But, I would like to wish all of my friends, family, acquaintances, and anyone that reads this blog a wonderful, happy, amazing Thanksgiving.  Enjoy your time with loved ones, be thankful for all of the blessings in your life.

Also, if you are a person that happens to be working today, I want to thank you and hope that you have had or will have the opportunity to spend some time with your families.  I know there's been a lot of commotion about whether or not people work on Thanksgiving.  

I'm not going to get in on that debate.  People want to boycott stores and be up in arms about people having to work on this day.  I want to know how many people are boycotting the military on this day?  Think about all of those men and women that are away from their families today...without anyone being up in arms about that!  If you don't like that people are working today, fine.  Don't shop in those stores.. but don't be upset about it.  There's no reason to cause anymore hate than what is already out there.  Like I've said thousands of times, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there's no reason to throw hate around.  Do what you feel is right to do, and let others decide what they feel is right to do.  If someone decides to take advantage of sales today, don't judge them for it.  If someone chooses not to be apart of any sales today, don't judge them either.  Each person has the right to make decisions for themselves, and don't need any added pressure of what others might think of them for it.

I happen to know someone that volunteered to work today.  Actually, I know a couple.  One volunteered because she wants the extra money.  Another volunteered because they've already had Thanksgiving over the weekend, and by her volunteering can allow others to be home with their families.  Nobody knows the stories of everyone's lives... so please keep your judgements to yourself... please?

OK, rant over....



Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Day Twenty Seven: Thankful for a Fun Day at School to Celebrate a Five Day Break


Starting today, I have five days off work.  I don't go back until next Monday, and when I go back it will be December already.  Which means, this break from work has to be Thanksgiving Break.  And it is.  I say it that way simply because time has gone by so fast that I'm having a hard time believing that it's already time for Thanksgiving and that there is only three more weeks until Christmas.  Crazy!!

The day before a break, I usually break out of my shell just a little and try to have a good time.  I figured that it would be hard, yesterday, because the past week I've been quite the cranky pants.  I've been trying with everything inside of me to fight away the Fall Fever that made it's way in to my classroom and turned several of my students against doing any form of work the second week of November.  

I've never understood the whole fall, spring, and summer fevers that often plague the classrooms.  I don't understand why kids think that just because a break is coming up, that they can switch their minds off a week earlier and that not a whole lot will really be required of them.  It's frustrating...really frustrating.  Because it makes me come off like some evil villain from a Disney movie.  They go home and tell their parents that I'm mean and don't care about them because, heaven forbid, I still give them homework a whole week before Thanksgiving break...AND expect them to do it!!  How evil of me, right?

And it's been pretty bad this year. I've had several of the usual "forgetting" of homework situations, and the looks of shock when I ask the class where a certain assignment is with retorts of "we had to finish that?"  But, I've also had an outbreak of downright defiance.  Refusal to do work or do it the way I ask it to be done.  I got to the point where I was thinking of banning any form of fill in the blank or multiple choice questions because some of my kids decided that randomly plugging in words or coloring answer choices without reading the questions would be acceptable.  And then, of course, they got upset when they failed the assignment and I still took a grade on it.

But, yesterday, I decided that we would all go in to the break by clearing the air, having a little heart to heart, and me discussing why I've been such a cranky pants the past couple of weeks.

I started with the explanation of my thoughts of Fall Fever.  I explained how teachers look forward to breaks just as much as students do, yet if we decided to just stop working two weeks early, and not require the students to do any work...we'd get in big trouble.  I also explained that there are only 170 days in a school year for teachers to teach our students everything they need to know in order to go on to the next grade.  If we took out a couple of weeks before every break to just goof off, then none of our kids would be ready...and they'd have to stay in that grade another year just so they could learn all the stuff they needed to know.  I explained that as long as we had to get up, drive to work, and be in the classroom all day, then we might as well knock out as much learning as we can... cause it sure would be nice to have a class of kids that aren't just ready for 5th grade, but more than ready.

I also decided to explain to my class what's been going on with me outside of the classroom.  They knew I was dealing with some kind of personal emergency, but they had no idea what.  I decided it was only right to fill them in and help them understand why I've gotten teary eyed at the drop of a hat, why I've had to miss a couple days of work even though I show up to work with no voice or with a cold, and why I've been a little more sensitive and short tempered than I usually would be.  Even during situations of laziness or defiance.  And when I explained the whole story, I was very shocked to see several teary eyes looking back at me.  I was shocked at some of the reactions.  Some looked shocked, some looked sad, others looked guilty or ashamed...and I can only put that down to the fact that those guilty and ashamed looks came from the students that have given me the toughest time the past couple of weeks, and they were feeling pretty bad about it.

It felt good to be honest with my kids.  I didn't do it for sympathy or because I was looking for remorse.  I did it because I believe my kids have a right to know what's causing their teacher to act a little differently... especially when it helps bring them some relief that it wasn't just them causing some of my teary outbreaks and moments of frustration.  

Once I got that all out of the way, I told them that we were going to spend the day doing a fun Thanksgiving activity.  I had already told them that they could bring pajamas, and that after lunch we could all change in to them and spend the afternoon relaxing around the room and reading.  I call it a "Read-In".  Last year, my kids loved it when we had a read-in.  I wasn't so sure that my class this year would be as excited, but they were.

All morning, we worked on coming up with a writing piece discussing three things the kids are most thankful for.  They had no idea, but they were actually on their way to writing a five paragraph essay on the topic.  I may not have a class full of kids that love reading this year, but I do have a class full of kids that love to write.  So, I knew that coming up with five paragraphs would be easy sailing for them.  And, it also helped me realize how much my kids are willing to work when there's some kind of fun theme attached to it.  Food for thought as I start to prepare plans for the next few weeks, me thinks.

After lunch and specials, the kids came back to the classroom, we all changed in to our pajamas (yes, me included), and several asked if they could continue writing instead of reading.  I said that was fine.  I had several kids that wanted to lay around on a blanket or beanbag and just read... but the kids that decided to continue writing did exactly that.  Once they were finished writing, editing, and rewriting their papers, they made the most adorable little pumpkin centerpieces to store their essays.  Those are what are pictured in the picture up top.  

The kids cut 9 strips of orange construction paper, wrote "I'm Thankful For _________" sentences on each strip filling in the blank with whatever they wanted to.  We then connected the top and bottom strips with a staples, added a couple of leaves with their names and the date, put a curled green ribbon on top for cuteness, put their paper rolled up like a scroll through the pumpkin, and adorable pumpkin thankful centerpiece for Thanksgiving.

The kids that made them were very proud of their creations.  

It felt good knowing that the kids were all leaving knowing that I do love them, I am very thankful for them, and that I wanted them to have an awesome break and come back to me ready to get back in to the swing of things.  Regardless of Christmas only being three weeks away once they come back.

And today, I am very thankful that I got to leave that way.  I am thankful that I now get five days off to spend with my family, having an awesome Thanksgiving dinner with them, getting our new Christmas tree put up, and starting our Christmas traditions off the way we normally do. 

I plan on doing some work over these few days, and some shopping, and some relaxing, and some cleaning.  I will NOT be attending any Black Friday sales...not deliberately anyway.  I will go out on Saturday and see if I can snag up some bargains that are left over.  I have a child to shop for that our class selected from the Angel Tree.  My plan is to buy everything off of his list, and my awesome kids raised almost $25 to help with that.  I know that doesn't sound like much, but it really is...for them.  And the amount isn't important AT ALL, it's knowing that they were all willing to help as much as they could.  

OK...that's it for me today... I have a Thanksgiving meal to start preparing.

Have an amazing Thanksgiving Eve, everyone...and take a few moments to be thankful for something. Anything.  Because I have learned over these past 27 days that I have SOOOOO much to be thankful for, and I don't think about it near as often as I should.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Day Twenty Six: Thankful for All of the Miracles That Happen in My Life


I have no idea who Mike Greenberg is, but I totally agree on his stance on life.  I absolutely believe that life is a series of thousands of tiny miracles.  

Over the course of the past twenty five days, I've realized how much I have to be thankful for.  Just like I do every year around this time.  No matter how many trials or tests I'm put through, no matter how tough life can seem sometimes, I always have more to be thankful for than not.  And I know that I have gotten to where I am today thanks to those tiny miracles always being at work. 

These tiny miracles can be anything from making it to my destination safely every time I get in a car.  Waking up every morning.  Making it through another day with my kids still loving me.  These are the miracles I kinda take for granted.  I don't always think of them as miracles.  They just happen.  But, they really are miracles.

Then there are those miracles that I pray for.  Wish for.  Hope for.  And somehow, someway, they always happen.  Not always in the way I expect, but they happen.  

I don't know how many times I've stressed about money.  Will we have enough money to pay all the bills?  Do we have enough money to buy food for the entire month?  Something always tends to break at the worst time, and then I wonder how on earth we're going to be able to afford to fix it.  But, you know what?  I always do.  We always do.  Somehow, someway, the money ends up being there.  We end up making it.

You can ask my kids how many times I've said "Kids, it's going to be a small Christmas this year.  We just don't have enough money to buy a whole lot".  Pretty much every Christmas since they've been able to remember.  And do you always know what ends up happening?  Yeah, never a small Christmas.  Somehow, someway, I manage to make it work...and end up getting them pretty much everything they want and several things they didn't expect.  I don't know how I do it... it just happens.  And that doesn't mean I buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff, or that buying them tons of Christmas presents is important.  Having a big Christmas is something I work hard for all year.  It means a lot to me...way more than it does to the kids.  I know with all my heart that my kids don't expect a lot, they don't require a lot.  That's all my doing, and it means a lot to me that one day out of the year I can spoil them rotten and buy them things they normally wouldn't expect or ask for.  

And those are just the materialistic miracles.  They happen a lot, and are important, but definitely not the only miracles that happen in my life.

There are the situations that knock on my door that take all the praying and hope and faith I have.  I'm given some bad news, and I start to imagine the worst.  Think the worst.  Am eaten up by the possibilities and scenarios that play out from that news.  And, then the miracle happens.  Everything is going to be OK.  None of those bad scenarios happen.  

I've shared with you that I received some pretty tough news last week.  I want to share what's going on, but I can't.  Because it's not directly about me.  Someone very close to me was given some earth shattering news.  News that brought me to tears in an instant.  Left me crying until I cried myself to sleep.  Has had me out of work for two days in the past week...more than I've missed the entire time I've been teaching.  A situation that had the potential of taking one of the most important people in my life away from me.  

And yesterday, we found out that one of those small miracles has possibly come to light.  It's not definite yet.  But, all preliminary signs tell us that it's going to be OK.  She's going to make it through.  

Sometimes, I truly believe that I am put through the tests I'm given just so I can see the light and miracle waiting on the other side.  It's kinda like the "work hard and reap the benefits" scenario.  I don't expect anything in my life to just be handed to me.  I've always been a firm believer in working for what I have.  Making sacrifices.  Weighing options.  It's what I do, and how I appreciate everything that I am blessed with.  

If I were to go back and visit myself ten years ago, and asked myself what I thought my life would be like ten years later... I'm pretty sure I would have said that I'd still be working my behind off to make ends meet.  The thought of going to school, earning my degree, and getting my dream job would be nothing but a dream.  There would be no way I could make it happen.  I had two babies to take care of.  I had bills to pay.  Finding a man to share my life with and following my dreams would be fantasy... something that just wouldn't be feasible.  

And now look.

If I were to go back to the beginning of 2007.  I'd tell you that I'd finally found the means to go to school.  I'd finally found a man to share my life with.  He had accepted my two children as his own, yet I had been wanting another baby, but it just wasn't in the cards for me.  My body just wouldn't cooperate, and I was told that the likelihood of ever having another child were slim to none.  I went through vigorous tests and procedures only to find out that I wasn't ovulating like I should.  Another baby just wasn't going to happen.  So, I had made the decision to follow my career dreams.  Another baby just wasn't meant to be, no matter how much I had hoped and prayed.  

And now look.  

If I were to go back to this time two years ago...November, 2011... and ask myself what my future looked like.  I'd tell myself that I didn't think I would ever find a teaching job.  That the thought of owning a home was something that just couldn't happen anytime soon.  We would be stuck in our old house for several more years.  

And now look.  

And if I were to go back a week and a half ago, I'd tell myself that my life was going to go through a drastic change.  I had to face the reality that I might be losing someone I love with all my heart.  Someone that I can't live without.  And that reality was one of the most heart crushing experiences I've ever been through.  Forget the money problems, the school problems, the job hunting problems, the house problems...this was all of them rolled together and then some.  Then, yesterday, we received good news...and it looks as though everything is going to be OK.

Another miracle.  Another chance.  

I sometimes think it's sad that I wait until November of each year to realize how much I have to be thankful for in my life...and the miracles that I'm blessed with almost daily.  I often take for granted the gifts that are bestowed on me each and every day.  

I am going to try and be better about remembering these miracles, and being thankful for them...each and every day.  

Because my life really is made up of thousands of tiny miracles, and hundreds of big miracles, and dozens of GIANT miracles.  

And for that, I'm truly thankful.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Day Twenty Five: Very Thankful For Wi-Fi


Today, I'm not at work.  Hence not posting my blog until much later than I normally would on a Monday morning.  Instead, I'm spending the day with my mom, dad, and brother while my mom is having a procedure done.  I was up and out of my house by 5:30 this morning, and I will probably be sitting in a waiting room until about 2PM this afternoon.  That makes for a very long day.  Thankfully, though, I will have Wi-Fi...which is what I'm thankful for today.

I know that I've already done a thankful post about social media and my blog.  But, that's not what today is all about.  Today, I have the ability to write my blog, keep up with my Facebook, and get some much needed work done thanks to the access to a Wi-Fi network.

I remember the days when internet service only worked when a computer was plugged in to a phone cord.  So, the fact that I can now access the internet wirelessly is a big deal.  And, with having a laptop and iPad, my office can now be pretty mobile.  As long as I'm in a Wi-Fi hotspot, I can pretty much do my work just about everywhere.  

Of course, my current mobile office isn't near as comfy as my living room.  I'm sitting on the floor up against a little coffee a waiting room.  I have a cup of coffee by my side, and ready to make it through the long day.  I have grades to enter, lesson plans to write for next week, and I should have time to do some Pinterest planning looking for some fun Christmas ideas.

It hasn't been very long since these options were available to me while sitting in a waiting room.  Before 
the days of Wi-Fi, long hours of waiting were spent watching continuous news shows on a TV with closed captions, or reading... if I remembered to bring a book.  

Today, I was prepared.  Not only did I remember my books, but thanks to Wi-Fi I also made sure to bring my iPad and my laptop.  So, I won't be watching the walls, counting each passing second, or wondering how much longer I will have to wait.  I will be occupied and busy.  The whole time.

I should also point out that I'm thankful I even made it here this morning.  We were blasted with some winter weather this morning, and just as I was getting to my destination, the roads started getting pretty icy.  In fact, I passed a nasty wreck that happened on a bridge on the opposite side of the road. That wreck took two hours to clean I watched it on the news and out the windows of the hospital.  I felt my car sliding just a little as I was pulling in to the parking lot, so I made it just in time.

The weather is very cold and blustery today.  By the time we're all done, though, the roads should be clear enough to drive on without having to worry about ice.

There is chances of snow moving in to the area tonight, so who knows if I'll even be working at all this week.  I have to admit, I wouldn't be too terribly disappointed with a snow day tomorrow.  I have a feeling that after not being able to get to sleep before midnight last night, waking up at 4:30AM, and the day spent in a waiting room will make for one tired me.  An extra day off to rest wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.

Right now, though, I should focus on getting my grades all entered so that it's something I can check off of my to-do list for today. 

And while I'm doing it, I'll be thankful that I have Wi-Fi that gives me the ability to get my work done while sitting here waiting for my mom.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Day Twenty Four: Thankful for Lazy Days


For the past several weeks, I've tried starting a new tradition in our house... Lazy Saturdays.  A day dedicated to lazing around the house in our jammies, watching TV, playing video games, listening to music, watching movies...whatever floats our boat.

It's a day that no plans are made to go anywhere, other than a quick run to the grocery store if needed.  I try and do a little cleaning, but nothing too strenuous.  A quick vacuum of the rugs, sweep the floors, dust the shelves, and clean the kitchen.  Takes no more than 45 mins to an hour.  Some Saturdays, if I feel like it, I throw some laundry in the washer.. but even that has been something I've started putting off until Sunday.

At first, the kids were really thrown off.  Saturdays were usually the days we'd go out and do something.  Visit family.  Grocery shopping.  Other errands.  All planned on Saturdays.  There was hardly a Saturday that went by that we weren't out doing something or another.  If we didn't go anywhere on Saturdays, then I would be sitting at my computer working.  I'd be wading through a pile of grading, looking up lesson ideas, writing lesson plans, and entering all the grades from the pile of grading I had spent hours doing.  So, to declare that from here on out that Saturdays would be a Do Nothing Day was a little weird for them...and hard for them to handle at first.

Pretty much every Saturday is my work at home day regardless of what I call it.  I always had the option of doing my work in my pajamas before, but I had to be sitting at my desk in my office.  I often felt secluded from the rest of the family, and regardless of what I was wearing.. I was "at work".  Now, thanks to a nifty new side table that slides under my chair in the living room, I can do some work in my big comfy chair, right in front of the TV, with the family all around me.  I know some people probably wouldn't consider that very relaxing, but it really is for me.  I don't know why, but it's hard for me to just sit and watch TV.  I have to have something to do while I'm watching TV.  Be it working or playing on my phone or iPad.  Don't know why I'm like that, just am... but I still consider it very relaxing.

The kids are slowly coming around to enjoying our Lazy Saturdays as much as I am.  

Peanut usually spends the entire day in bed, watching her own TV, listening to music, or reading.  There are some Saturdays that the only time I see her is at meal times, or when she decides that she wants to watch whatever movie we're watching.  

Jelly is also starting to come around.  As you can see from the picture that I snapped yesterday.  That is basically the sight seen in my living room on a Saturday afternoon.  She's snuggled up on the recliner with a blanket...and Katniss.  Our cat absolutely ADORES Lazy Saturday, because at any time she can snuggle up with someone.  Jelly finds it a lot more comfy with no shirt on, but we've finally started persuading her to at least put a t-shirt on.  Yesterday was just one of those days where PJ pants and a blanket were all that she needed...and why not?  If I could get away with lazing around with no shirt on, I'd totally do it.  HA!

Hubby is in his absolute glory when I declare a Lazy Saturday.  He'd much rather stay home every day than go out and do stuff.  Sitting in his chair watching TV, playing on his PS3, or doing something on his computer or iPad is his idea of the perfect day.  Now that the weather is too cold to go out for a ride on his motorcycle, he's perfectly happy sitting at home all day.  Plus we can catch up on the shows I wasn't home to watch throughout the week.

The only one that struggles a little is Butter.  And for a kid with ADHD, I can understand that a day of doing absolutely nothing can be extremely challenging.  He's got to be going, going, going, constantly. He can keep himself amused on the PS3 for a little while, or on the computer.  He then might mosey on outside to ride his bike or shoot some hoops.  Then he's back inside in his room for a little while.  Then, he's back on the computer.  And the whole time I know that it's driving him nuts not having some direction or plans or SOMETHING to do that he hasn't already done.  He's not really in to watching TV for very long.  He's not really in to doing anything for very long.  And when I tell him that we don't have anything on our agenda, and it's just a day to amuse ourselves...he gets all kinds of antsy and cranky.

But, he'll either come around like Jelly did or suck it up.  Because he sometimes has to understand that it's good for us to have a day without having plans or going somewhere.  That our bodies need to rest and relax.  I'm thinking about trying some different hobbies out on putting puzzles together, or drawing.  I've tried the reading approach, but that definitely won't happen.  He's not a fan of reading.

Yesterday was one of THE most relaxing Lazy Saturdays I've ever had.  Yesterday morning, Hubby woke me up at 11:30.  He was a little concerned because I NEVER sleep that late.  I might sleep in until 9AM or so, but close to noon?  No.  And, I know I needed that sleep because I haven't slept very well all week long.  

We have one of my "adopted children" spending the weekend with us, so she and Peanut actually hung out with us in the living room all day.  Hubby and I made a quick run to Walmart for snack food, but other than that we were all on the couch in front of the TV.  I had my pile of work in front of me.  Jelly was in the recliner with Katniss.  Butter was on the computer.  And the girls were snuggled up on the couch with a comforter.  We stayed that way most of the day...and after dinner we put on a movie and watched that as a family.  

Once the movie was over, the kids started fading.  Peanut and her friend fell asleep on the couch.  Jelly  asked for me to take her to bed.  Butter went to bed.  And Hubby and I enjoyed the quiet time.  I carried on working while he played a video game with another one of my "adopted children" online.  He's been driving me nuts, lately, about talking Hubby in to playing video games online with him..and last night Hubby finally did it.  They both enjoyed themselves until it was time to hit the hay.  

But the whole day was perfect.  Peaceful.  Relaxing.  And it helped recharge my batteries and prepare me for the week ahead.

Today, it's back to the go-go-go mentality.  I am taking the day off work tomorrow to take care of something related to the personal situation I'm dealing with, and it requires me to be up and out at 5AM in the morning.  Because of that, I had to find somewhere for the girls to stay.  Butter has a doctor's appointment in the morning, and Hubby will be taking him to his appointment and then to school after.

Thankfully, I have an amazing boss who was willing to take Jelly for the night.  I haven't seen Jelly this excited since last Christmas!  She absolutely adores my principal, and that was the reason I asked her. She is about the only person I work with that Jelly will feel comfortable enough spending the night with.  

Peanut will be staying at her friend's house.  Her friend's momma is such a great friend, and I knew it would be no problem asking her.  She knows I'd do anything to help her out, and I feel the same way about her.

So, here in a little while I'll be taking the girls to where they'll be spending the night.  Once I get home, Hubby, Butter, and I will be going out to do our grocery shopping.  We still haven't bought our Thanksgiving stuff, so we definitely need to get on that today.

I guess I have a lot to be thankful for today...just like everyday.  

Time to be lazy with my family.  A boss that goes above and beyond to help me out.  A great friend who's willing to help me out.  And, peace of mind knowing that I can take care of family situations without having to worry.  

What an awesome, blessed life I have.  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Day Twenty Three: Thankful That I'm Instilling the Importance of Giving in My Classroom


It's been a pretty rough week in my classroom.  The week before a break usually is.  The kids get all excited about having extra time off, and basically go in to cruise-control mode...thinking that they don't really have to do much when some time off school is so close.

On top of the added stress going on in my personal life, there has been trying to get the kiddos to understand that just because we get three days off next week, this week was still being ran business as usual.  Homework had to be completed, tests were to be taken, grades were being entered.  Yet, it was tough.  I had several kids that seemed like they had checked out, and it didn't bother them one stinking bit to make a zero on SEVERAL papers because there was absolutely no effort put in on their part.

I get so frustrated during situations like those, because it chaps my behind when the kids don't care about their education.  I have tried to explain to them that if I decided to go to work, sit around the classroom all day without teaching them anything, not grading any papers, not turning any grades... just because "I didn't feel like it", I'd be out of a job PRONTO!  The real world doesn't work that way.  They may be OK with making bad grades because they aren't doing their work, but keeping that mentality throughout their lives will result in no paycheck or no job if that's how they look at their educational profession.

I always try and connect school life to the "real world".  Going to school is their job right now.  Showing up is important.  Being on time is important.  Doing the work they are asked to do...and doing it well.  Saving their goofing off for their "breaks" during recess.  All very comparable to what adults have to do when they go to work.  They often retort with how they aren't being paid to come to school, in which I quickly remind them that their education IS their paycheck.  The better education they get "paid with" now, will result in better REAL pay when they are finished with school and look to what they want to do with their futures. I know I can get a bit carried away sometimes with how frustrated I get, but I don't think they realize how important it is for me for them to show their full potential. 

So, while I've been trying not to pull my hair out this week, I have had something going on that has helped keep my hair firmly intact...and has helped soften my heart just a little when it starts freezing over from the frustration.

At the beginning of the week before last (2 weeks ago), the Student Council announced they were sponsoring a fund raiser for the Shop with a Cop program.  They were doing it with a Penny War.  Each classroom received a tub, and the classroom that raised the most amount of money for the program wins a game of dodgeball against some of the police officers, the student council members, the principal, and me.  Yes, I offered to play on the opposing team as well.

The light in my kids' eyes when that was announced was something I wished I could have caught on camera.  It sunk in pretty quickly that the prize was the one and only chance to hurl balls at me, with no consequences.  And after being such a Cranky Pants all week, I'm sure that this was a MAJOR perk in the deal.

The first few days, kids were bringing in bags of coins.  All the pennies and dimes and nickels they could scrape together around their houses.  And our tub started to get a little weight to it.

Then, on Monday of this week, I also announced to the class that I had selected a child off of the school's Angel Tree. I told them that in no way, shape, or form was I expecting them or requiring them to donate...but I explained what the Angel Tree was, it's purpose, and a little about the child I had selected.  I then told them that if they wanted to give a dollar or two to the cause, I would use that money to buy items off of the child's wish list.

Now, I can say right off the bat, that the kids in my class aren't from well off homes.  Several of them have all either been recipients of some form of help, are recipients, or need to be.  The families of my kiddos are all fighting tooth and nail to support their kids, give them good homes, and work their behinds off to make sure the basic needs are given.  

One of the reasons I knew I was teaching in the perfect school was because of the diversity in cultures, socio-economic statuses, and because I knew that these were kids that needed the best education they could get so that they could realize their potentials and really make something of their lives.  Several of the parents I've met with at some point or another have shared stories of moving to this country to give their kids a chance to make something of their lives, to follow their dreams, and to break the cycles of poverty.  Not all, but many families rely on services providing food, housing assistance, and clothing.  

I don't teach in this school because I think I'm a person that can swoop in and make all their troubles disappear.  I don't live on a pedestal preaching to these kids about following their dreams without having a little background and insight to what their families are facing.  I teach there because I can truly relate to some of the scenarios played out with some of the families, and I'm living proof that a little hard work and motivation can have amazing benefits.

You see, when I was trying to raise two small children alone, I had my share of assistance.  I had to depend on food stamps to be able to feed my kids.  I often had to reach out to charity organizations to help pay some of my bills.  I often bought clothes for my kids from thrift stores, or went to churches that gave away coats and warm clothes so that my kids were dressed appropriately for the weather.  I have lived in homeless shelters.  I have stood in line at an employment office hoping I could find a job that would at least make ends meet.  I have lived short periods without electricity or running water because I didn't have the money to pay the bills.  

I have been in some of these families' shoes.  

And, now, I have the chance to give back and pass along my story.  The day I was able to call up the DHS and tell them that I no longer needed any form of assistance was one of the happiest days of my life.  To know that I had finally reached a point where I was completely independent from needing handouts.  And, it was on that day that I swore I would do my part to give back as often as I could.

Selecting a child off the Angel Tree this year is one of those things.

So, going back to what I was talking about with my class...

The first couple of days, I had several kids give me a dollar that their parents had given them for some sort of treat or ice-cream.  I made sure to remind my kiddos that they didn't have to give me their treat money, but they all wanted to.  They either split the money they had with me, or just told me they were totally OK with not getting an ice-cream if it meant a little kid was able to get a toy for Christmas (insert Kleenexes, right?).  I put the angel tree money in to a small envelope and kept it in my desk.

Yesterday, it was the last day of the Penny War.  Over the course of the week, I noticed that it had started to get really full.  There were only coins in there, because the kids had given any bills they had to me for the Angel Tree.  I had been watching some other teachers' tubs and had noticed that there had been bills added to I wondered if we'd really be able to keep up with just the coins.

The curiosity finally took over on Thursday, and I decided to dedicate our math lesson to counting the money in the tub.  I gave each child a huge handful of coins, asked them to sort them into piles of like coins, then sort those piles in to groups of five or ten.  The kids then had to multiple the piles.  A great lesson to go with our estimating and multiplication unit.

While they were counting, I had each child give an estimate on how much money they thought was in the tub.  I received guesses ranging from $20 all the way up to $300.  I got some optimistic kids in my class.. HA!

Our final total was $67.79.  I was floored.  I couldn't believe it.  We had raised almost $70 with just the coins that they had brought.  I was ecstatic.  But, it didn't stop there... I had a couple of kids that decided to bring in a few more yesterday, just to really push us up in to that $70 range.  Our final total was $72 and some change.  Just take a second to think about how much $72 is with mostly pennies, dimes, and nickels.  There were some quarters and dollar coins, but the majority were the lower coins. That tub weighed a ton!

At the end of the day, the winners were announced.  I had already gotten wind that the top three classrooms would get a game of dodgeball, because there had been such great success with several classrooms.

Our class came in third place!! The classes that beat us had raised $94 and a whopping $112!  Of course, those two classes had put in some bills...but I was amazed at how much all the kids had been able to raise.  The grand total for the school was over $600!  

After the winners were announced, I decided to count the money in our Angel Tree envelope.  I had $20 in there.  Which was awesome!  All together, these past two weeks, my kids have collected almost $100 for two different charities.  All by themselves, with whatever money they could gather up.  

I am so stinking proud of them!

I whine, I complain, I moan, I yell at them about doing their part to better their lives... but it amazes me how quickly they are willing to help out others.  Especially when they are no better off or maybe living in even worse conditions than the kids that will be helped with that money.  

My kiddos may have some hard heads, but they sure do have some kind hearts.  They show me each and every day they are willing to help and care for those that need it.  By helping some of the kids with special needs, by offering to assist a student with answering questions because that child doesn't read very well, to not hesitating to loan pencils or scissors or crayons to the children in the class that don't have those things... even though I have plenty to offer.  

It's important to my kids to be nice to others.  To help however they see fit.  I often forget about how good their hearts are, when I'm too focused on molding their minds.  

But, not today.  Today, I am so thankful that I get to see true miracles at work.  Kids working together to help those that need it... even if they could use some of that help themselves.

And that's something to be truly thankful for.


Friday, November 22, 2013

Day Twenty Two: Thankful for Random, and Not So Random, Acts of Kindness


It's always been a belief of mine that bad situations tend to bring out the good in people.  Not meaning the good isn't always there, but when something bad happens to a person....the kindness inside grows, starts flowing, and is quickly spread around to those who need it.

And these past few days, I've learned that little lesson firsthand.

I already knew that the people I work with are THE most caring, giving, loving people I have ever met in my entire life.  You just kinda have to be to work in our school.  Because the kids we work with are going to pull at every heart string, every emotion, ever fiber of caring and kindness that each staff member holds inside.  And, if you show up to our school without those things... it's not going to be long that, like the Grinch, your heart grows three sizes.

It's just not possible to walk our halls, speak to the teachers, or spend any amount of time watching the staff members doing what we do without feeling the kindness and love that emanates just from doing our jobs.  

I knew from Day One that I was exactly where I needed to be in order to be the absolute best teacher I could be, simply because of the culture of kindness that's engrained in the teachers at my school.

I'm thankful every day that I get to work with such a great group of people due to the dedication and love and kindness that's shown to our students, but that's not the kindness I'm referring to today.

Today, I am truly thankful for the acts of kindness that have been shown towards me in the past 48 hours.

In the past 48 hours, I have not had time to dwell on or stress about the certain situation that my family is dealing with.  I'm still not ready to share with the world what that situation is, but I can share that it's a situation that hit me hard.  Took the wind out of me.  Has left me feeling scared, terrified actually.  Has caused me to cry, and stress, and worry.  And, honestly, it's not even me that is the person who's going through what's causing these emotions.  I'm just affected because it's someone very close to me... and that's an understatement.  In fact, in all honesty, I have actually felt guilty about how much I have needed to be comforted with all of this, when I'm the one that should be doing the comforting.

Anywho, in the past 48 hours I have not had time to dwell or stress about the certain situation because the people I work with haven't allowed it.  Their random, and not so random, acts of kindness has kept my spirits high and kept me focused on the good in my life.  

Anytime I started to feel a little twinge of sadness, I have been met with someone walking in my classroom at that exact moment to give me a hug.  I have been met with kind words, encouraging words, and words of support and reinforcement that I'm not dealing with my troubles alone.

My 4th grade team members, who have always treated me like family rather than just a co-worker, have kept doing what they do.  There hasn't been a single moment since working in my school where I haven't felt completely comfortable around them.  They have always been there offer kind words, a hug, a prayer... whatever I need to help me get through my day.  And, with what I'm going through now, none of that has changed.  It's just grown.  If that's even possible.  They make me laugh, smile, temporarily forget what I'm dealing with.  

My secret pal, once again, found the perfect time to leave a little something in my mail box yesterday to remind me that I'm being watched over.  A beautiful plaque about family and a card were given to me, and brought tears to my eyes.  

A co-worker that's new to our building this year, but just her personality and everything about her makes her absolutely perfect for our building, brought by some cookies for me yesterday morning.  

Simple acts of kindness... yet delivered with such a huge impact.  Exactly what I needed, when I needed them.  

All of my "teacher friends" have gone above and beyond to reach out to me at some point these past couple of days just to let me know that they care, that they are there for me...and I don't think they have any idea how much of an impact it's made on me.  Because to them, it's just normal to act that way.  They aren't doing anything special on my behalf.  That's just who they are.  When a team member is down, they pick that person up.  Stand together.  Take care of their own.

It's definitely not just my "teacher friends" either.  Over the course of the last few days, I have found myself leaning on another staff member.  She works with our ELL students and families.  I have always liked her, and have gotten along great with her, but these last few days I have gravitated towards her almost every day...a few times a day, actually... just to talk.  I don't know why,  but I feel like I can pretty much tell her anything.  She is hilariously funny, but amazingly kind.  And just spending a few minutes with her can dispel any negativity I'm feeling.  

And, at this point, I really have to shed some light on how amazing my boss is.  

I've had some amazing bosses and supervisors in my time.  Those that have treated me well, have been understanding and caring, have been genuinely interested in me and my life outside of work.  But, in all honesty, none of them really hold a candle to my current boss... my principal.  And I am learning first hand why the word is spelt with PAL at the end.

Yesterday, I had to ask her a favor.  Something I considered to be a HUGE favor.  Something I considered to be totally unprofessional to ask of a supervisor.  I went back and forth all morning long, worrying about whether or not I should ask her.  And, I finally bit the bullet and went to her office to ask her.

My palms were sweating, my heart was racing....and I just blurted it out.  

But, after I asked her, she didn't think it was a big deal AT ALL.  She agreed instantly.  Didn't even hesitate or think about it or question why she had been the one I'd asked.  She just agreed as if I was asking her to borrow a pencil.  

And I left her office feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders, but also reinforcing what I already knew... how absolutely amazing and caring and supportive she is.  She cares about the kids in our school, but she also cares for all the people that work with those kids.  

It also wouldn't be right to write this post without sending out some kudos to a parent friend, too.  She doesn't work in our school, but her daughter is very good friends with Peanut.  I've spoken about her before, and she is becoming a fast close friend.  Another person I can tell pretty much anything to.  She hasn't hesitated to offer her support and help during this situation, and it's so nice to know that I have someone else I can count my corner...helping me with whatever I need help with.  

And writing this post has made me realize that I can NEVER again complain about not having enough friends in my life.  Because the truth is, it doesn't matter if I'm spending time with them outside of school, or I'm texting them, or I'm involved with the "inside jokes".... I am surrounded by friends each and every day.

I love all of my school family.  They are really like family.  And nobody can every have too much family.

That's something to be truly thankful for.