Merry Mail

IMG_0385-4I love getting mail this time of year and seeing my favorite people smiling back at me. People, myself included, spend a good chunk of time, energy, and money getting Christmas cards into the hands of those we love. After the excitement of seeing a friend or family’s card and admiring how much their family or kids have grown/changed in the last year, gushing over travel locations, or rejoicing in exciting news, are we really supposed to put these cards back in the envelope? I want these people to celebrate with me all season! I hang up our cards in our kitchen where I can see them daily. I hung a ribbon down the cabinet and tape the cards to the ribbon so they don’t ruin my cabinets. If you don’t see your face up there, please know I am at my mailbox anxiously awaiting the arrival of your smiling face.

Do you display your holiday cards? How?

The Best Yes

IMG_0370I loved this book. Like most self-help books, it doesn’t offer a lot of new ideas, but it provides permission and understanding. I enjoy Lysa’s personal testimonies of faith because she doesn’t sugarcoat anything. Successes and failures with her husband, children, friends. It’s all in there. Her audience is female, but there is takeaway for both genders.

A few of my favorite quotes:

  • “Overwhelmed schedule, underwhelmed soul.”
  • “Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.”
  • “Wisdom makes decisions today that will still be good tomorrow.”
  • We steer where we stare.”
  • “Saying yes all the time won’t make me wonder woman, it will make me worn-out woman.”
  • “Those who constantly try to impress others will quickly depress themselves.”
  • “Relationships help un-rush us.”

I’m passing this book to a friend, but I’ll re-read it again soon. The messages are ones I need for myself and to better understand the people around me.

Birthday Boy

IMG_0372The week before finals is always a whirlwind, but John’s birthday forced me to trade my Macbook for a martini Thursday evening. We celebrated at Parlor City with dinner and drinks (caramel apple for me), and ended the evening at the New Bo market picking out gourmet cupcakes from our favorite CR cupcake shop, That One Cupcake Place.

Don’t think this cupcake stop got me IMG_0373out of preparing birthday treats. Oatmeal raisin cookies were baked the night before and sent to work with John for all to enjoy!

If you haven’t had treats from That One Cupcake Place, I’ll take you. But first, check out their flavor menu.

The Polar Express

IMG_0342During class I mentioned reading The Polar Express, and a handful of students questioned my statement because they thought The Polar Express was a movie. After I got over my shock, I explained it was a children’s book long before it hit the big screen. I didn’t blame them for their lack of knowledge but rather their parents and elementary school teachers. Since blame doesn’t do any good, I took it upon myself to correct this disappointment. We spent five minutes the next day reading aloud The Polar Express. Every student sat intently and listened to Chris Van Allsburg’s magical story. As silly as the idea may have seemed, every 16-18 year old student didn’t touch their iPad or any other distraction during IMG_0347the story. What a great reminder that every student, no matter the age, loves a read aloud.

Do you remember your teachers reading aloud to you?

While I’m sharing some Christmas spirit, I’ll pass along the Christmas Pandora station I always listen to this time of year. Glee Christmas. I never watched Glee, but I enjoy this seasonal pop station.

How do you get your Christmas music fix?


BoobBub Kids BookBubMost people find themselves picking up more books during the winter months because it’s too cold to enjoy outdoor activities. BookBub came at the perfect time because it offers discounted and free best selling books (for a limited time). I downloaded a few free ebooks and noticed Shatter Me which I just checked out from the library based on a student’s recommendation, is only $1.99.

Why give away books for free? Authors, many self published, find it a great way for people to read their work. Even The Da Vinci Code was given away for free last year hoping readers would then purchase Dan Brown’s Inferno.

Books are available on various styles of readers and tablets. I usually purchase Kindle books to read on my iPad’s free Kindle app. Not all books are available in every format.

This site sorts book deals by genre and sends a daily e-mail with recommendations based on each reader’s preferences. They even have kid’s books! Happy reading, friends!

Week of Thanks

IMG_0331I enjoyed an entire week off for Thanksgiving. After the weekend in Galena, the rest of the week was the perfect blend of productive and relaxing.

Monday and Tuesday included a lot of grading, letter of recommendation writing, and lesson planning for the rest of the semester. Time during the day to do these things was such a gift.

Knocking out my to-do list early allowed for an awesome week of date nights. If anyone loves me being on break, it’s John. I’m way more fun! Dates to the movies (Mockingjay), out for sushi, Redbox rentals, Christmas shopping, Nexflix marathons, and more. Break was extra beautiful this year without a
IMG_0324-0thesis weighing me down. I didn’t realize how stressed I was other years until I wasn’t stressed this year.

In addition to time with family and friends, one of the biggest highlights of my week was getting to spend some extra time with the cutest two-month-old around. Just look at those beautiful blue eyes!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! The calendar tells me tomorrow is December. Where has the semester gone?

Student Blogs

The best assignment is when it doesn’t feel like one.

Student-Voice-Education-through-LeadershipStudent blogs are the best project I’ve ever assigned. I’m not only reading their posts and assessing their writing, I’m learning so much about each of them. Not putting limitations on the blogs was the best “live in beta” decision I could have made.

When I made the assignment and the rubric (because students are receiving a grade), I required three posts before Christmas break. I didn’t require a certain number of photos, polls, different topics…etc. I just opened it up for students to make the blogs their own. They’ve exceeded my expectations, and I’m encouraged to make more projects with fewer guidelines. (Crazy thought, huh?) Fewer guidelines allows students to feel ownership in their projects because it is uniquely theirs.

This assignment is the perfect example of giving students the tools to create, learn, and communicate on their own without holding their hand through the process. I made it clear that I didn’t have all of the answers and we would be learning some of the program together along the way. They respected this honesty without question.

I knew this assignment was executed correctly when a student who is not in my class came in and asked if I could help her make a blog because she heard about it from my students. Absolutely!

Feel free to check out their work!