Sunday, February 2, 2014

Taking -&- blessings

I was doing my regular weekend laundry marathon. I checked the pockets of my child’s pants and found something unfamiliar to me. So I asked where it came from. “I don’t know. . .the ground. . .I think it was. . .” After pressing some more, the truth came out. My child had found it and wanted it and took it.

My laundry was then interrupted to have a lesson about what the Bible says about wanting and taking and stealing and lying and what our hearts need to be focused on and forgiveness. In the end my child wrote a letter to the person who was missing an object, admitting what had been done, acknowledging it was not the right thing to do, apologizing and promising it wouldn’t happen again. The object was returned in the letter.

And then my child did a pretty amazing thing (in my humble opinion, anyway). My child admitted to doing something similar and wanted to fix that situation too, instead of leaving it as a “wrong-doing.” Another letter was written, admitting what had been done, acknowledging it was not the right thing to do, apologizing and promising it wouldn’t happen again. And of course, the object was returned in the letter.

And then I gave my child a big hug. I said I had been so disappointed in the decisions that were made to do wrong, but now it all seemed to be turned around. Now I was proud of the recognition of the wrong and the want—the need—to fix it and make things right again.

My husband, watching the whole thing, later told me that he liked how I handled it. He said that for most people an insignificant object like the one found in my child’s pants pockets probably would have been tossed aside by most. He said he appreciated how I took an opportunity to take the “little” sins and even try to teach the good in those—the ones that are often just overlooked. I said I was just hoping that our kids would turn out to love, respect and serve God for the rest of their lives, and that I hoped I was teaching it well enough. Because to be honest, I was kind of crushed. I didn’t want to be that mom having the stealing and lying talk with my child that night. I would have much rather been the one celebrating the good things: the accomplishments, the achievements, the triumphs.

Maybe God needed to remind me what my job was as a mom, because the next morning, my other child came out of the room with a little paper she had been working on.

Oh, did my heart want to burst! So we typed it out, added a clip art and made it pretty to hang up and be a reminder. And now if I walk into the child’s room, I get to see this reminder too. . .that those crushing moments are teachable moments. . .and I better make the most of them. I guess I’m just going to keep hoping that in whatever I come across, I will be teaching our kids to love, respect and serve God for the rest of their lives.

Friday, January 3, 2014


I love the look of infinity scarves, but don't really consider myself a scarf-kind-of-gal. I get the Michael's updates in my inbox and saw a tutorial for them--a 30-Minute Infinity Scarf (using your arms to do the knitting!) and thought maybe I wouldn't delete that e-mail just in case I want to try it later. After seeing a friend post a picture of her finished project, I figured I would give it a try (and I had no school to prepare for and a quiet evening with all the kiddos in bed and hubby sick. . .). The video I used is found here--and it is GOOD!
See me in front of my computer? Used this tutorial to a T (well, except for using the same yarn. . .I'm not sure the # of how bulky my yarn was, but it was bulky!)! Casted on 12 on my arm and went from there. . .
 My first few rows. . .
 Mid project.. .and my yarn bag. . .
 My backside. . .ready to "sew" it together.
 And then my finished project. It took me an hour as I followed along with a tutorial video.
And I decided it was TOO bulky. I'm not experiencing a HUGE winter storm or severe cold weather, so. . .the next day I took it all apart (took me 15 minutes) and made it again (in a half hour this time!) with only 8 casted on my arm. 
And here is finished project  deux!
I think I might try again using 12 cast-ons, but not such bulky yarn to see how that will turn out. . .
Use the link above to go learn to make your own!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Star--raffia and ruffles

Some friends and I get together and do craft nights every now and then. Working full-time and trying to be a full-time mom doesn't often allow me to "plan" some great crafts to do on these evenings. But I did run across a cute craft idea on a rare "study-break" on Pinterest, where I found a Pottery Barn copycat ornament (here). Now on her post, she used dowels and made them larger. Being a scavenger to get a quick craft ready for an evening with the girls, I thought I would try it using chopsticks, as that is the closest thing I had to dowels on hand. She has all the directions, so I'm not going to repeat. Pop on over there if you want to give it a try. They are kind of time consuming, but look great. . .in my humble opinion!
Here are mine. . .I put them on a string where we hand our Christmas cards:

 Then because I got so good at them {wink, wink}, I figured I'd make them into ornaments too! Here are two that I made for ornaments:

Merry Crafting. . .and Merry Christmas!

Picture frame hair clip holder

I know these are all over blogs right now, but I just had to try one of my own for my daughter! Not only was our bathroom looking a little pink (when it is supposed to be quite blue and espresso!) and scattered with hair accessories (very hard to clean between the  clips and head bands!), but I needed a "cute" Christmas present. Seeing that I am posting this on Christmas Eve means that it was just finished last night! Right on time! Here is how I made mine. . .
Step1: Buy old frame from the thrift store. Use spray paint. When it sticks to the newspaper, peel excess off! I also added some white hooks to the bottom. (Left-overs from a jewelry holder project I did a while back).
 Step 2: Add ribbon. I decided to keep the "back" on it--I wanted the glass part so she could use it as a message board if wanted (or that I could write bible verse on it as the years go on. . .always thinking of the future!) So I used those little foam scrapbook squares to make sure the ribbon pops out a bit from the glass. I cut scrapbooking paper down to size (scrapbooking paper from the ActivityVillage website), and mounted that on the cardboard backing of the frame.
Step 3: Glue ribbon down to backing--I used double sided tape and then went over it with packing tape. Hopefully that holds the test of time and craziness of "accessory-choosing!"
Step 4: Turn it over and evaluate if it will work or not. . .
Step 5: Add a few decorations (wooden flowers at the top--from Michael's--they match a clothes/sweater hook I made for her room a few years back). And Voila--Christmas present done!

Can't wait for her to open it and spend time "organizing" her stuff! I guess I'll have to post a picture of it handing on her wall and full of the barrettes, headbands, elastics and flowers! Merry Christmas, Princess!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Advent Calendar Idea

Last year, for school, I was looking for an advent calendar type of idea that would be more on the "educational" and Bible side of things. I stumbled upon this blog/post, and LOVED it!!! I knew her idea would work better in my home, and didn't have the time to do all the searching, so here is how I changed it up a bit to work for my little school kiddos:
Here is my Christmas tree:
(star tutorial found here; the rest is just cut paper for the tree)
I used the Christmas collection of scrapbook paper from the ActivityVillage website, and mounted those on "library card" envelopes. Then I copied and reformatted the "meaning of Christmas" readings and glued them on cards to fit in the pockets.
I used some of the printable for the numbers from here and here. They worked beautifully--very talented people to make them for me to use!!! Thank you!
I popped the inserts in. . .
Then instead of having tangible things to display or put in drawers as shown in the first link, my Sped aide and I got together to collect pictures to hang on the bulletin board.
As seen in the first picture, as each day was read, the picture got to be hung up. The special helper of the day got to search for the right picture, the class got to guess what the pictures might be about, and the "high" readers got to practice reading scriptures. The students really looked forward to doing devotions and Bible in this way! I used it again this past year. . .although we never got it done as a snow day cancelled our last day of school!

If you need yet another way to do advent and teaching the "real" meaning of Christmas, here is what I did. . .

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

To All Teachers of Any Classroom. . .

An article has been circulating among my friends of Facebook. It was found right here: at

It’s a humorous article by Steve Wiens, titled:

Steve Wiens: To Parents of Small Children: Let Me Be the One Who Says It Out Loud from May 3, 2013 17:02:32

It made me smile, and even chuckle every now and then. I’ve read it over a few times and decided to give it a try. . .here is my rendition of his article (with no intention to get in trouble for any copyrighting or all that jazz—I give ALL credit to him for what he wrote!) in order to send a note of encouragement to those teachers in my blog-world.

So here it is:

Susan: To Teachers of Any Classroom with Needs and Needs and More Needs: Let me Say it Out Loud. . .or at Least on this Humble Little Blog

I am in a season of my teaching career right now where I feel bone-tired almost all of the time. Ragged, how-am-I-going-to-get-through-the-lesson-plans-by-the-end-of-the-day-or-even-get-them-through-this-year-learning-anything-at-all, hands-in-the-air, did-I-teach-them-anything-at-all exhausted.

I have a full class of primary students—the little ones. I'm not complaining about that. Not even one little bit. I wouldn’t change it for anything. I absolutely LOVE what I do! But the helplessness I sometimes feel—I could give that away. But I know I have a principal and superintendent and board and school community with high standards. I have a bunch of parents who have trusted their darlings into my care each day. And I have a bunch of wide-eyed students who are looking up to me . . . all the time. ALL the time!

I have a class with needs and needs and more needs. There are many moments where they are utterly delightful, like last week, one of them told me they wanted to be a teacher just like me when they grew up, which they thought would probably be about 2 years from now. Or the time when one of them prayed that they could be locked in the school so they could have a sleep-over with me and never have to leave the classroom. Or the time  when one student came up to me and wrapped herself around me in a spontaneous hug to which followed all of the others who are just itching for a class cuddle.

Oh, but there are also many moments when I feel like I have no idea how I'll make it until the end of the day. The constant demands, the outbursts, the yogurt spills on the carpet, the noise, the repeating of directions, the forms, the grading, the set-up, the clean-up, the “I-think-I’m-going- to-be-sick” moments, the e-mails, the phone calls, the problem-solving, the blank stares after 2-step directions are given. Oh they are like fingernails across the chalkboard. The gentle reminders I daily (or hourly. . .or is happening each minute?) give to not all shout my name at once or follow me around like a mother duck and her ducklings. Or shed tears or angry words when demands are not met immediately and to their liking.

photo credit
I’ve come to the stark realization that I am not an octopus with enough hands to juggle all of their papers or problems. Or a superhero who can jump in at any given moment to perfectly rescue them at exactly the right moment. Or a mind-reader who will magically know what is going on in their heads when they can’t get it out by way or words or pictures or actions. . .and follow their logic of course. Or a miracle worker. Oh, to be a miracle worker!

I’m just a teacher.

I have to confess that sometimes, it all drives me to chocolate. And I will neither confirm nor deny how much coffee I drink in one day or how much junk food might be stashed in my desk. Or how loud I play my music on my drive home.

There are people who say this to me:

"You are a great teacher! You can do it!"

I usually smile and give some sort of lame joke to brush the comment aside, but inside, I secretly don’t always feel like I am who they think I am. Sometimes I feel like I wasted a whole day of a child’s life. Sometimes I feel like I didn’t teach the lesson in a way that made them “get it.” Sometimes I feel like we are on a journey that is just too far and the end is not in sight. Sometimes I feel like they missed the point—or I missed the point.

If you are a teacher, you know that there are moments of spectacular delight, and you can't believe you get to be around these little people all day—five days a week; 6-7 hours a day. The joy, the bliss, the “ah-ha” moments, the successful projects, the cooperative group projects, the high test scores! But let me be the one who says the following things out loud:

You are not a terrible teacher if have tried the lesson three (or even 10) times with three (or 10) different approaches and they still give you blanks stares. Half of them are probably already doing calculations two grade levels up and solving major world problems as they stare.

You are not a terrible teacher if you need to take a story break sometimes. You are justified—you have little imaginations that need to be filled right there in your presence. Who knows if one of your students might become the next Dr. Seuss or Robert Munsch, or if they have already formulated the storyline for the next book about the Wimpy Kid or Star Wars.

You are not a terrible teacher if you can't figure out how to refocus their energy on the 18th math problem today and need to take a Body Break (of course that is the teacher lingo for run around like crazy for five minutes—you included!) instead. Mind and bodies need to grow and their bodies might be more needy today.

You are not a terrible teacher if you are wishing it were a snow day . . and it’s only  the end of September.

You are not a terrible teacher if you are wishing that the Pro-D meeting would end really soon because you have about 10 stacks of grading sitting on your desk and next month’s unit to plan and bulletin boards to plan and Centre activities to organize for the next school day. And today would have been a great day to get it done. . .instead of spending the weekend working on school stuff. . .again.

You are not a terrible teacher if you just can't wait for the end of the day after a school spirit dress-up day. Or even if it’s a Friday of a short work week.

You are not a terrible teacher if the sound of certain complaints no longer register as immediately urgent to deal with. You don’t like your sandwich again? Your shoes are wet after jumping in mud puddles again? Your pencil broke again? You lost your journal again? You don’t feel like writing today . . .or reading or doing math or science or socials or health? What exactly are you trying to say. . .again?

You're not a terrible teacher.

You're an actual real and normal teacher who has a desire for your students to learn and succeed in your classroom and in life. You cannot do it all. We all need to admit that one of the casualties specific to our information saturated culture is that we have sky-scraper standards for teaching and learning, where we feel like we're failing horribly if we give them more free writing time or add a few extra minutes onto recess or watch a video—even if it is an informational one and fits into the theme you are studying perfectly!

One of the reasons we are so exhausted is that we are over-saturated with information about the kind of teachers we should be. And we are getting so overwhelmed with that instead of being the teachers we were created to be.

So, maybe it's time to stop reading the blogs that tell you how to be the best kind of teacher in 7 steps, with the best worksheets and centre activities, with the cutest graphics because obviously students learn better with cute pictures and the latest fonts. Maybe it is time to stop beating yourself up because you can’t figure out a way to teach this one skill in the absolutely best way possible and integrate it into five other subjects as well. Maybe it is time to stop worrying about what is the principal or other teachers or parents going to say about the project that sure looks messy now, but will have great results . . . just wait and see when we are done.

Maybe it's time to embrace being the kind of teacher who takes those “fails” in class and turns them into “wins.” Who prays regularly for your students and asks God to give you the right, calm, and confident words He wants you to speak into these students. Who asks God to help you to be a better version of the person that you actually are, not for more strength to be an ideal teacher. Who uses moments in the classroom and the playground to recognize that we are sinful creatures who need a Saviour. Who can show that they are forgiven by showing that same kind of love to those around them. Who can model a servant heart and expect a higher degree of love to be shown on a regular basis. Who can show grace because you were shown grace when you needed it most by Someone who has a lot of it to give.

So, the next time you see teachers with that foggy or glazed or frustrated or pensive look in their eyes, take a moment to pray for them. Send them a note of encouragement. Put your hand on their shoulder, look them in the eyes, and tell them that they're doing a good job. That they are doing what they were created to do and are striving to follow the example of the Greatest Teacher. Just don't freak out if they start the waterworks. At times, we feel like we're botching the whole deal and our students will turn into . . .well, we aren’t exactly sure anymore.

You're tired. Today might be a good day or it might be the day that tops the world’s worst day ever list.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

You are making a difference. You just might not be the lucky one to see the results . . . at least not yet. But ask them in 15 or 20 years what their teachers did for them. They won’t repeat the list of how you feel the day went. You might be most encouraged to know that they will look back on today as one that spurred them to be exactly who God created them to be . . . because that is what their teacher taught them and how their treated them.

Go. . .and enjoy your day teaching those precious children of a God. The same God who gives courage and patience and rest. . .and go eat some more chocolate.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week: Merci Beaucoup!

Our PAC did it again!
They pulled off an absolutely amazing and beautiful Teacher Appreciation week!
The theme this year was French. . ."Merci Beaucoup!"
Here is their Staff Room Pendant. . .
their foyer bulletin board
their staff room table décor
and some of the daily gift baskets to be won.
And I actually won one this year! Woot woot! (Mine isn't pictured though. . .it was made by a mom of one of my students, and contained handmade rustic-ish décor. . .so now I have to re-paint our ensuite to match, of course!) I NEVER win these things, so I was thrilled! (And that the one I was eying hadn't been scooped up yet by another lucky winner before me!)
Students brought in adorable little notes and encouragements for us teachers and all who work at the school. They are so sweet!
The PAC--they spoiled us!
Monday--an invite to the staff luncheon on Friday, a visit from some French servers gearing up the students and serving a bubbly fruity treat
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday--treats in the staff room every day! These were wonderful, and ranged from things like brie and baguettes to crepes to fill.
They also treated us to mini candles, chocolates, and verse to encourage us each day. Some included:
Ruth 2:12: "May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done." (NLT)
Zephaniah 3:17: "The Lord you God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing."
1 Corinthians 9:8: "God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."
Friday--and of course, Friday included a wonderful and delicious lunch of croissants, quiches, fruit and pies/torte for dessert. . .complete with the PAC taking over outdoor duty responsibilities!
They spoiled us!
Our families own little gifties to the teachers . . .
bath bombs (bath fizzies) with adorable printables and homemade cards.

As a mom, I appreciate what the teachers of my kids do, and as a teacher, I LOVED the encouragement and appreciation I felt by the parents and students of our school. Thank you!

Mother's Day

 Mother's Day this year. . .
 the tradition of the kids making a hanging basket . . .
the tradition of the kids making Oma and Grandma gifts (and the visits with them) . . .
the tradition of getting a beautiful hand-made card from the kids (with super adorable letters inside!) . . .
the tradition of the K necklace (not shown) . . .

 and the tradition of releasing salmon fry into the creek . . .

 I love my family . . .
God has blessed me richly!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Oh glorious to-day

Hawaiian sunset. Photo taken by me. I don't know what heaven is like,
but if Hawaii is anything like it, I think I am in for a HUGE treat!
 One day when Heaven was filled with His praises
One day when sin was as black as could be
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin
Dwelt among men, my example is He
Word became flesh and the light shined among us
His glory revealed

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He's coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

One day they led Him up Calvary's mountain
One day they nailed Him to die on a tree
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He
Hands that healed nations, stretched out on a tree
And took the nails for me

One day the grave could conceal Him no longer
One day the stone rolled away from the door
Then He arose, over death He had conquered
Now He's ascended, my Lord evermore
Death could not hold Him, the grave could not keep Him
From rising again

One day the trumpet will sound for His coming
One day the skies with His glories will shine
Wonderful day, my Beloved One, bringing
My Savior, Jesus, is mine

Lyrics taken from here
(Casting Crowns)
 Very much worth the watch!
Happy Easter!
He has risen!
He has risen indeed!


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Eagle spotting

Not this weekend, but the weekend before, the rain and clouds and chilly temperatures took a break and gave us a Saturday full of sunshine and lets-go-outside and I'm-happy-just-because-I-see-sun!
Around noon, I got a call from my dad to look around our area for an eagle because he had seen one and its young (two he thinks!) flying around.
 We spotted them. . .and it was a perfect opportunity to try out my new camera and zoom lens. Because of the sunshine, I made my way over to his house, which was farther away from where I saw them perched, but not in the direct view of the light. Not bad for an amateur! Above is the eagle--this was taken about 2-3 houses away.
 Here is the young--photo taken about 2 houses/yards away.
Here the bird is in the bottom right corner. Oops!
While watching, these birds took to flight, chasing prey and chasing pesky crows! It was amazing to see! It was almost as if the "mom" was teaching her young to hunt. We never saw anything captured, but the hunt alone was just fine with me! No pictures of birds in flight--not there yet! I was happy I was able to focus and create the pictures I did!

An interesting aside. . .one of the members of the leadership team at our school was referring to "The Book of Awesome" by Neil Pasricha and the 1000 Awesome Things blog, and then talked about a few personal "awesomes." He talked about seeing a large eagle in the area, which isn't so common, and that he spent some time looking instead of carrying on with his usual Saturday routine. I just wanted to jump up and tell him about the rest of the awesome that he missed--all these pictures came from it! It was amazing to see their heads shift, them wiggle as if ready to take off, and the sudden, silent jump into flight. The return to a perch and his gaze. And me chasing, to,--figuring where I could next see him best! I guess I just have to be happy that God let me in on a little extra bit of His  awesome!
(Oops--the focus is a little low and close. It was my first attempt!
This one was taken from my dad's deck, so the bird was about 3 houses/yards away.)