Sunday, May 29, 2011

Unofficial Beginning of Summer

Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer. Here are the top 10 bits of summer I'm most looking forward to:

1. More time with Sam and my little family--hiking, snuggling, Lakeside
2. Time to read--especially just for fun
3. Committing to take care of myself--especially around healthy food and fitness
4. Summer concert in Howe Meadow
5. Projects for next school year
6. Taking classes this summer--especially Soul Restoration 2, and tech classes about PDFs and Podcasting
7. Guiding 2 sessions of Art and Soul of Brave Teachers
8. All things Brave Teacher--ebooks, kits, etc.
9. Creating Art
10. Clearing--space and time in my life for what I really want and need.

What are you looking forward to for summer?

Friday, May 27, 2011

A Book to Think and Talk About

It's been a while since I've recommended a book or other media on Friday. Today I'm recommending the book Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. If you have a daughter younger than 10 or 11 or work with girls between 2 and 12, I think it is a must read.

I think it speaks so much about how our girls are being viewed and objectified as consumers. I also think it speaks deeply and profoundly to viewing all children primarily as mini-consumers. This frightens me, because it rings so true with what I witness around me. As a woman who does not have a cell phone, cable TV or an ipod, I've been struck by how many of those and other tech gadgets the 9 and 10 year olds I work with own, view as essential, bring to school, and toss around.

I think this book is worth the read, whether you agree with the author or not. And the concepts discussed are worth some thought and discussion.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

This week started out with me thinking that there were just a couple weeks of school left. I was hoping that it would be as gentle and smooth as the ending of a school year can be. By midweek I knew that I should have expected the unexpected.

Our family's two year old was getting breathing treatments every four hours. Did he have viral pneumonia or asthma or an infection? Was he going to get worse or better? Two doctor's appointments and a trip to the hospital in less than 24 hours. Expect the unexpected.

I feel like I'm coming apart around the edges. I just wanted to finish up some year end assessments and read a novel and play some math games with my students. And frantically rush through all the year end stuff related to school. Instead it's been expect the unexpected.

There is a life lesson in all of this. I'm sure. But I think I need a little more sleep and some time to finish grading papers before I can wrap my head around that. At this moment I am grateful that this is not the normal week in my life, that I have a generally very healthy child, that I don't have to do this alone (God bless single parents) and that there is an end in sight.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mr. Popper's Penguins and the End of the Year

As the end of the year approaches, there seems to be more work to do every day, and yet students are less and less motivated to do work. (Who am I kidding, so are teachers.) Here are some great online resources I've found. Some cost a few bucks, but at this point seem worth every penny!

Mr. Popper's Penguins, the movie is coming out June 17. Here's the trailer.
It would be a great read aloud or read together for the last few weeks of school. Here are a bunch of activities. More here. and more here. I think we will read this (or at least start it) the last week of school.

Some other books that I've ended the year with include:

The Best School Year Ever--Some years we've made compliments for classmates book.
Holes--ending with watching the movie

I also really like to let kids reminisce and make a little memory book. Here is one with more resources than I would even use. I love her stuff!

I also like to have kids make mini-posters of what next year's class needs to know. Some years I put the board up and cover it with plastic over the summer. It's great to return in August with one thing already looking neat and put together.

Usually on the last day or next to last day, we clean and sort together. I try to generate a list of jobs ahead of time, so that all the books get collected and kids take all their stuff home.

What do you do to make it through the last week or two of school?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Walk in Nature and a Content Heart

Today was the first day in over a week that the sun was actually shining for more than a tease. I thought about staying late after school to start to sort and purge files. Instead I left for home at about 4 o'clock, went out for pizza with my little family, and went for a walk in the woods.

The water was rushing in the river--like I've never seen before in this little branch of the Cuyahoga River. Part of the trail had been washed out by the water. The rushing water was powerful, a little bit scary, and soothing--all at the same time. The trail was lined with dandelions going to seed and so many types of little spring flowers tucked behind trees and leaves. As we heard the babbling river and the song birds, my heart was and is content.

The downed tree really left and impression on Sam. The other end was in that rushing water, so it was pulsing as the rushing current tugged on it. The strength of the water was incredible. It was like a motor was attached to the other end. It got me to thinking about people who are caught in all the flooding along the Mississippi. I feel sorrow for them, and I feel gratitude for what I have.

When do you feel content?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Starting Summer Right

It's totally cold and wet in an unseasonably chilly sort of way. Never the less, summer really is right around the corner. I'm super excited (head over heels) to offer an opportunity for teachers to start their summer with some self-care in a fun, supportive and adventuresome workshop. It would be such a pleasure if you could join us!

JUNE 14 - 15, 2011

What is the Art and Soul of Brave Teachers?
This adventurous workshop provides writing prompts and art projects as a means of self awareness. Brave Teachers leave with a self care plan, art projects and a binder full of creative resources to continue the brave adventure on their own. Write your heart out in this journaling and art class. Learn how to take care of your brave teacher's heart and soul while playing with art and pen and new friends.

Who can participate?
Everyone who calls themselves a teacher to someone, wants to play with words and art, and want to care for themselves so that they can be more effective in the work they do.

What are the benefits?
~A space created just for you to take care of yourself
~Time carved out of life's busyness to write, create, think, and share
~A little community of brave hearts united
~Fun and informative writing prompts
~Fun and flexible artsy and crafty projects
~A binder of resources to take away
~The opportunity to make it uniquely your own and let it meet your needs
~Surprises and bonuses that cannot be revealed here
~A special one time low price
~Yummy lunch is provided, too

All of that and MORE for just $49

How does a brave teacher sign up?
Click right here

To get more info contact me:

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Powerful Community of Women

I think the community of women is a lot like rain. There is a little drip here and another there--almost unnoticed. And then there is a puddle, a creek, a stream, a rushing river, and powerful ocean wave that can move anything. It all starts with just a little drip. It can nourish and enrich a little seedling or move an entire mountain. This, to me, is the powerful community of women.

Saturday was another Brave Women's Breakfast. I was so struck by what I'm learning about community with women.

I'm learning. . .

It's more about the intention than how many people show up.
It's crazy how much we have to share with each other. The whole is definitely greater than the sum of the parts.
It's surprising how similar our stories are, regardless of age, places we've lived, income, etc.
We can do things with the support of other women we could never do alone on our own.

Every time we meet I feel inspired and supported by other women--so powerful

We've started hiking the Buckeye Trail--a 1,400 mile trail all around Ohio. We've finished about 1 1/2 miles! I can't wait to see how far we get together.

Where do you find community? How are you supported by community?

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Appeal of Art: Toddler vs. Adult Conformity

I recently went with my husband and son to the Akron Art Museum to see and amazing M.C. Escher exhibit. It's fantastic!

We've all seen the Escher art that makes its way onto calendars and posters, but I saw so much more. I was completely drawn to pieces I had never seen before. I was also struck by how much art a 2 year old can absorb. On the way to the museum we talked about what colors he would want to see at the museum. Blue, and green, and yellow. Although he did not mention pink, he loved the pink "Q" sculpture. We actually bought a postcard to take home. We played "I spy" with pieces. Can you find the bird? Do you see a fish? Can you find the nose on this sculpture?

He looked so intently at art. He was super good about holding our hand or being carried and not touching any of the art. He wasn't nearly as impressed with Escher as he was by the big pink "Q" and other colorful pieces. It made me think about how subjective art really is. I'm also stuck by how he clearly knew what he did and didn't like. I hope he can stick to his own opinions and avoid conformity for as long as possible. I hope.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Half Full Sort of Day

I really like this campaign at Arby's--on the cups it says, "It's going to be a glass half full sort of day." This really got me to thinking about how seeing the glass half full is a choice. I've known people who looked wildly successful, but chose negativity and pessimism most of the time. I've known people with a terminal illness who lifted my spirits with their optimism and positivity.

When the tough times come it can be tough to see the glass half full. Sometimes it seems downright impossible. But at some point it is a comfort to know that I have a choice.

Are you having a half full sort of day?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to everyone out there who is impacting the life of a child.

This photo is back from the beginning of February, but my guys just downloaded it and used it as part of a gift for me. I LOOVE this photo. Sam is pulling me in for a kiss because of the great heart cookie.

I always thought I'd feel different about being a mother. I always thought my life would be different as a mother. I thought I would still have my mom for support. I always thought I would be a stay at home mom. Like most things in life, motherhood has not turned out the way I expected. It's not better or worse, it's just different.

It's given me a different perspective on life, how I use my time, how I look at the world, choices I make. the future, and so many other things.

How do kids change you?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


To honor all amazing teachers(of anyone and any topic), I'm offering a great FREEBIE over on The offer ends Saturday, so hurry over.

I'm really please to present this great resource:

You will receive for FREE my first Brave Teacher Kit called "Heal Your Brave Teacher Heart With Affirmations." This is a 20 page PDF packed full of reasons to write affirmations, suggested affirmations, ideas for artsying up and making affirmation cards or notebooks. This kit includes 30 affirmations ready to be cut out and stuck on your cards. I can't wait to share all the goodness with you.

So if this sounds like something for you, sign up, and I'll send this great practical resource from my little email box to your little email box next weekend.

Monday, May 2, 2011

What Do You "Need"?: A Toddler's Perspective

The moment of my day that filled my heart with the most joy occurred in the couple minutes before we sat down for dinner tonight. My husband warmed up some real leftover mac and cheese and whipped up some dill buttered carrots. It smelled sensational. I'm standing over the stove scooping this onto a little plate and saying to the 2 year old in our family, "Are you ready for some macaroni and cheese and yummy carrots? Without missing a beat he says , "I NEED CANDY!" I kid you not. I need candy.

I find it very easy to confuse wants and needs--not just when we are two! Often the things I really need I've convinced myself I just want, because it's okay to have unfulfilled wants. It's much tougher to have unfulfilled needs.

What do you really need today?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Surviving Standardized Testing

Another year of standardized testing has just finished! It's tough on kids. It's tough on teachers. What do you do to make it less overwhelming? Here are some of the things I tried this year:

  • We did 3 weeks of review and hit topics that aren't covered or barely covered by the curriculum our district mandates.
  • We had 2 days when we switched with other teachers, so kids had a variety of review activities.
  • Kids made affirming posters to hand down the hallway.
  • I covered poster in our classroom with affirmation posters I made.
  • I wrote everyone a personal note of belief in their abilities to succeed.
  • Kids arrived on the first day of testing to new pencils, erasers, sharpeners, mints and bubblegum. Along with a note explaining the importance and meaning of each. (i.e the 4 leaf clover was all the luck they needed!)
  • To sweeten the week we took extra recess, popsicles, and no "real" homework.

I'm excited to get back to getting ourselves ready to move on to 5th grade. In our district that's a particularly big deal because fifth grade is at the middle school.

How do you survive standardized testing?