Is it the holiday season?

My three-year-old makes just the cutest comments…I love hearing his thoughts on life because his perspective usually gives me reason to stop and think. A child’s innocence and the joy they find in the things we as adults take for granted it is so sweet.

With older siblings counting down the days until Christmas the little one tries to figure out this whole holiday and being he is now three he ‘gets’ much more than in previous years. The other day he came to me very causually and I anticipated he was going to ask for a drink of juice but instead he said, “Mommy, Is it the holiday season?” I was a bit taken back by his question because he doesn’t normally talk like that but I smiled and said, “Yes, it is.” He was so thrilled he smiled and punched his fist up in the hair shouting, “Yes!” He then ran to his older brother who is 5 and said, “Guess what? It’s the holiday season!!”

I am not exactly sure whatLinus Speech that means in his head but it’s a great example of how the kids hear thing regarding the holidays and don’t understand what it’s all about. My husband and I feel it’s very important to keep our children grounded in their faith and shelter them from some of what we feel the media can do to kids. We don’t have cable and stick with PBS & qubo. (We feel some programming seems to push the kids to grow up too fast) The commercials on television during the holiday season tell us to shop, shop, and shop some more. This makes our job as parents even more challenging. We find ourselves reminding the kids frequently what this holiday is all about.

The best idea I can’t claim as my own. A number of years ago my brother and his wife shared a family tradition from their own which my husband and I quickly adopted. Every year our children each get 3 presents. If you ask them why they can tell you. Christmas is about Christ. Jesus got 3 gifts so we get 3 gifts. They may write a laundry list of ‘wants’ and wishes on their Christmas lists and letters to Santa but they are very aware that they only get 3 gifts from Mom & Dad. They have decided they had better be on Santa’s good list to ensure he brings a present too. 🙂

With the decorated malls, the snow falling and or the Christmas music playing on the radio it is so easy to get swept up on the ‘holiday season’ spending a bit too much and or forgetting what it’s all about. It may be challenging but it is possible to remember the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas and ‘Menne’ blessings to you and yours in the new year.

Thank a Teacher

Seeing so many tweets about teacher appreciation week I felt compelled to “Thank a teacher” myself. As I began to think about this I realized how many teachers had a great impact on my life. Of course there are many teachers whom have had an impact but a GREAT impact is what I was seeking, (and positive of course).

I can remember the names and faces of many of my teachers all the way back to kindergarten; however, as I think about those I have had more recently their names and faces escape me. Those teachers I had in my undergrad and my masters program had to really stand out for me to remember a name and a face but there are a few from higher ed that I put in that ‘great impact’ category.

As I  ponder those people and recall the wonderful memories I laugh because it seems that their impact on my had very little to do with academic content. I learned MORE than subject matter and had a connection with those teachers which wasn’t correlated to my grade in the class.

So I must thank those great teachers.

Miss Olson not only Thank Youtaught me how to play the violin, she taught me patience, persistence and the important of practice. Mrs. Reed who cared so much and were so loving and caring for a frightened 1st grader. Mrs. Moreng who brought a whole new language and culture into my life. Somehow I remember the Spanish I learned in 3rd grade and I still have the book she gave me. Mrs. Benson taught me it is OK to show emotions and be true to myself. Mr. Helgeson taught me a bit about myself as a ‘social butterfly’ as well as sparking an interest in history. Mr. Gora helped shine a light on my creativity giving me confidence in myself. Mr. Hoff taught me that I can do things even when I don’t want to. I will forever credit him for my public speaking skills, (thanks to impromptu speeches in Jr. High). Ah, and my foreign language teachers, Frau Sweden and Frau Olson-you are awesome. I had sooo much fun in all of those classes. You taught me that learning can be fun even when faced with challenge, (and yes, I can still speak and understand some German). Doc Skewes taught me I can do anything I set my mind to. Mr. Hohenthaner taught me how a teacher can make even the toughest subject interesting, (Oh and to trust no one and assume nothing). Mr. Kinney showed me patience like I have never seen in a teacher. No matter how much I struggled in his class he was always wiling to help without judgement. Mr. Anderson taught me autonomy and self-direction. Mrs. Schmidt taught me so much I can’t fit it into a paragraph. The connections I made in that class, the skills and tools I gained are immeasurable.

The Prof’s I had throughout my BA and MA were good but there were a few that were great! The ones that I could go to their office and they knew my name. The ones that were approachable, kind, and helpful. Al Ramirez and Dick Carpenter were two amazing professors that were just that. They had a wealth of information to share and had great rapport with students (myself included) that made learning from them wonderful.

It was these great teachers that inspired me to become a teacher to impact the lives of others the way they impacted my life.

Thank you amazing teachers! You’ll never know what a tremendous impact you have on the lives of your students. And I’ll close with a quote from an amazing teacher who happens to be a colleague of mine (Mr. Keven Kroehler), “Thank you for doing great things for kids!”

Faith in the fast lane…

We are all so busy these days. Whether it’s career, family, or just life in general it seems we are going 100mph in 3 directions all at once.  If you are anything like me finding time for yourself can be challenging. As a mother of 5 between family, work, and volunteering it can be very difficult to squeeze in time to nurture my faith. No matter how fast are lives go I feel it is still very important to find time for faith. If you can’t find time, then you’ll just have to make time.

So how do we find or make time for faith in a fast-paced life? I don’t claim to have the perfect solution but this is what has been working well for me.

  1. A devotional. I have seen devotionals in bookstores and have even received one as a gift but didn’t pick them up right away. After cracking one open I soon learned it was a great way for me to get my daily dose of the bible as well as a practical example or message for me to think about throughout my day. I’ve tried reading right before bed, or first thing in the morning.  I gave up trying to have a routine and have since gone with whenever I have time in the day. My devotional has put on many miles being tossed into my purse or briefcase so I am ready whenever I have a few minutes to read. Rather than check my facebook or twitter I simply read the scripture on my smartphone and 1-page devotional message for that day. There are many different devotionals out there. I am recently finished one for women by Jill Briscoe and love it. Now my husband and I are reading a couples devotional book together each evening. I am confident you can find a devotional that works for you.
  1. Prayer beads*. I was raised Catholic but never learned how to use a rosary so when this concept of prayer beads was first presented to me I was skeptical. After trying it out I discovered how easy it was and how helpful it was for me to structure my prayer. I have 2 of these; 1 is meant for adults and 1 for children. I tend to use the children’s version. I have them on a key-chain ring and they hang in my car. Rather than listening to the radio or talking on the phone I hold my prayer beads and pray on my way to work each morning.
  1. Schedule Bible Time. It doesn’t always work well with our schedule but I try very hard to fit in bible time in the evenings with the kids. We usually do a “bath, book, bedtime” type of routine so one evening a week I replace book with bible. This has worked very well with the kids especially after they each got their own bible and bible case to carry it in. They love gathering on the floor with me to read together. Although they each have their own bible appropriate for their age we are still able to all read and discuss the same stories. It is so much fun to hear the kids explain to one another the various stories and talk about what they feel the bible is telling them.

*Prayer Beads: You can find beads to make this at your local craft store. I cannot take credit for this as I learned all about it from a pastor at a local church.

Happy Face Bead-This bead prompts you to talk with God about the joys of our lives, the things we love about God and the things we are thankful for that make us happy.

Blue Bead-This bead represents the things in life that make us sad or things we wish we hadn’t done. A time to talk to God for forgiveness.

Flower or Animal Bead-This bead represents the amazing natural world God created. The plants, animals, etc that we love.

Star Bead-This bead is for the ‘star person’ in our prayer life for the day. If you told someone you’d pray for them or someone you feel needs prayers that day.

Heart Bead-This bead is for the people we love…friends, family, teachers, coaches…and even the people in the world we haven’t met yet.

It is not what in education it’s about WHO….

In the past few weeks something has really gotten under my skin, (And yes I am very aware that I can be easily irritated). I spend plenty of time reading about education on fb, twitter, blogs, and of course old-fashion print. For whatever reason it seems so much of what I have been reading or hearing about has more to do with the adults than it does the kids. It seems to me that many in education spend so much time fighting one another about what education is or should be losing sight of what is most important. It’s not WHAT education is, was or should be but rather WHO is education for? I may be a bit naive but I think if we took a step back to gain a little perspective we might see there are children everyone who are counting on us to do what is best for them. Yes, do what is best for THEM, not any publishing company, research firm, teacher, CMO, union, etc. I understand politics and the actions that drive politics are a fact of life but maybe, just maybe or one minute we can all step back, see those children’s faces and try to work together and do right by the children.

Things my kids say continued….

The “eeyaa’s”

We’ve all been there. Kids are sleeping soundly, you’ve had a little time to get some things done and now you are off to dreamland yourself. All of the sudden you are awake and hearing “Mommy” or “Daddy!”

We may hear “Moooom” or “Daaaaaaaaaaad.”  Sometimes even “Mommy” or “Daddy.” At some point our oldest decided he couldn’t holler loud enough and he put his own spin on “Mom” or “Dad.” He started bellowing  “Dadddeeeyaaaaa.” Occasionally we’d hear a “Mommmeeeeya.” (for whatever reason the kids seem to want Daddy at night).

We caught onto the “ee-ya” addition but didn’t think too much of it. We asked why he does it and he said “Mom and Dad are just too short to yell. I need a longer name and adding “ee-ya” works well.”

Now that our youngest is in the ‘chatty-patty’ phase of life I have noticed he too has adopted this “ee-ya” stuff. He now yells any and all of his siblings names with the ‘eeya’ ending. At 22 months he’s already figured out that it’s effective In getting the work out.

The End & Amen

My youngest 2 seem to really catch on to prayers and as soon as they could speak said, “Amen” at the end of prayers. So much so and so loudly that at gatherings such as a recent beautiful wedding they say it so loud that everyone can hear them. It’s not a bad thing, just funny when a 22 month old can out “Amen” an adult. The funny part is they have understood it to mean closure to something so when we finish reading books at storytime they both end books with a boasting “Amen” rather than “The End.” A funny and cute trait they’ve picked up along the way.

Pimple in Your Eye

I just love to listen to my older 2 converse about all kinds of things. The other day they were talking about how their bodies work and one said to the other, “What is that dot in your eye?” The response was very matter-of-fact, “It’s your pimple silly!” I had to laugh and clear up their confusion and let them know it’s a pupil not a pimple.

It’s for the kids….

Today in our local newspaper I read a letter to the editor in which the writer was sharing her irritation with a near-by school district advertising in the newspaper. I thought it was funny for a variety of reasons one of them being the fact a private school had a sign advertising that they were now enrolling students which was conveniently placed at the entrance to the local public elementary school.

Why is it offensive to have educational options? What is wrong with other schools advertising in our area? What is so bad about choice?

In the past year or so I have heard people from varying backgrounds (community members, teachers & even a superintendent) all make similar statements about the need for loyalty to the local district. In one instance the person went so far as to say that it is sad that people put their own needs ahead of the needs of the district. Shouldn’t the district be loyal to the students they serve? Shouldn’t they be doing everything they can to meet the needs of the students they serve? I for one will NOT apologize for putting my CHILD’S needs ahead of the needs of our local district.

We all want what is best for our children wherever that may be. I feel we are very lucky to live in a country where our children have the opportunity for a free public education. I feel even more fortunate to live in the great state of Minnesota (birthplace of Charter Schools) where we have lots of educational options.

My children attended a local traditional public school and when my husband and I (with input from our children) decided it no longer met the needs of our children and family we open enrolled to a school of choice. We are very happy we have choices and feel so very blessed to have such a wonderful school that personalizes to the unique and individual needs of our children.

Local business don’t write letters to the editor every time a business from another community advertises in the local paper why should it be any different for education.

In the end it’s not about the adults, it’s about the kids.

My Life at 100mp

While talking with a few friends recently the statement: “There is no grass growing under your feet” was directed at me. I laughed and said, “No.” I really didn’t think much of it at the time but as I was driving home I pondered how fast-pasted my life really is. Why it is that way and how in the world I keep up with the break-neck pace.

My husband and I have ALWAYS lived our lives (or at least our life together) at 100mph. We seemed to have taken the multi-tasking idea to another level, either that or we are practically nuts and want to test the limits of our sanity. We’ve never really done things one at a time. Maybe that is where I get my “go big or go home” attitude….so does that mean I can blame the craziness on my husband then? LOL. Nah, I have always subscribed to the philosophy of “why put off tomorrow what you can do today.” Abe Lincoln I think….

So back to the topic of this post. Why so fast? Not really sure. Why just get married or just graduate? Why not graduate, get married, fix-up a house and have a baby all at the same time? Probably because it IS as challenging as it sounds. Every year when I compose our annual Christmas letter we reflect upon the past year’s events and it always seems like a crazy amount. I guess we have become accustomed to it. In the past 10 years: 5 moves, 3 college degrees, 4 babies, 2 homes built, numerous jobs, races, triathlons, and of course the many activities of the children. Yeesh!

Somehow in there we manage to squeeze in family time, church, family bible time, time for hobbies (golf, scrapping, photography, sewing, running, rollerblading, biking, fast-pitch). How we do it all is beyond me. Well, I guess I might have at least a clue.

  1. Faith. I have faith in myelf, my husband and our family. With God all things are possible. There is no task to large to tackle.
  2. Less sleep. I never sleep-in like in my early 20’s and don’t have time for naps.
  3. Lists. Who doesn’t love lists..ok, so maybe just me. But writing it down makes me feel soo much more at-ease and organized about it all. (And who doesn’t love crossing things out on a to do list???)
  4. Motivation & Persistence. Having the motivation to get started and the persistence to keep it going is imperative.
  5. Realistic expectations. Being realistic about our expectations for taking on such crazy tasks. We understand and accept we cannot do it all or at least not all in one day. (I admit that I have the supermom or superwoman complex. I prefer to do it myself rather than ask for help but knowing that there is help and being able to ask for it is a good plan and something I am working on.)

My grandmother who walked very fast even at the end of her years said she did so because she was afraid she’d tip over if she slowed down. That may be the same for me. If I slow down I may nap, fall asleep and miss the life I have been blessed with.

I plan to continue to keep running after my dreams, chasing my giggling children, walking hand-in-hand with my husband and doing everything I can do still get the daily chores done.

So Yes, grass doesn’t grow under these feet and I wouldn’t have it any other way.