Monday, December 3, 2012

Shine: Part 2

My role model when it comes to shining!

I'm committing the last six Mondays of 2012 to the little word shine.  I've been learning so much about what it means for me to shine and not shine.  If you want to read the first part, go here.  Here are some more of my thoughts on this little topic:

Here is a true confession:

I've spent many years of my life hiding and dimming my sparkle and shine so that other people wouldn't feel bad or be offended.

{I hate admitting this, but I also know it's the only way to change it--get it out in the open and move on!  I actually think I'm grieving this right now.}

I used to think it was ok.  Sure it might be motivated by fear or insecurity or wanting to protect other people or control their view of me, but so what?

I thought that when I was ready to shine, I could just do it.  I had no idea that I was not just hiding my light from others, but I was also dimming my light for myself.  Crazy, huh?!  Radiating ones beautiful self and gifts into the world cannot be just turned off and on.  Radiating ones light and love and gifts and truth into the world is not controlled by a switch.  Shining is a muscle that must be exercised and nourished and strengthened consistently--otherwise it weakens and becomes almost useless.

Since I've been hiding that bright glow that is me, it is such a painful process to just get it moving again.

Can you relate to any of this?

I'm embarking on a fitness program for my personal glow.  Do you want to join me?  This is not going to be fancy or formal.  It's going to be trial and error.  More details will follow soon!

How are you shining and glowing today?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Alternative To Teacher Gifts

I love this time of year.  I love how excited kids are.  I love to decorate my house.  I am a huge fan of winter break.  I am not a fan of getting loads of teacher gifts.  Don't get me wrong, I love teaching kids about giving generously to others and the whole bit.  You can read about something I do with my son here.  I honestly feel embarrassed walking out to my car with loads of stuff I do not need.

Over the past few years I've asked people to consider giving something to the class instead.  We have gotten wonderful games for indoor recess, books for our class library, and extra supplies like pencils and markers.

Another teacher gave me this great idea because of a link her sister has with this school.

Last week I talked to my students at class meeting and sent home a letter that explained what I would like instead of a gift for the teacher.  I am asking for school supplies for a school in New Jersey that basically lost everything in Superstorm Sandy.  I was stunned that in just 2 days we already started getting boxes of pencils, folders, supply pouches and books.  The kids love it, because they feel like they are really doing something to make a difference, too.  I feel great, too.

If you would like to help, here are some suggestions that Angela made over at The Cornerstone.  You might also want to think of a local charity where you can contribute with your students.  I think there are many great alternatives, and I've had great responses from my students and their families!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Student Led Conferences 2012

Another year of student led conferences have come and gone.  I met with 22 of my 26 students/families.  I think this is a great ratio.

I walked away loving this model of conferences more than I ever have before.   I thought I had written here about this before, but as I looked through the archives, I couldn't find it.

So here is how is basically works:

1.  Have families sign up for a conference time.
2.  Students then make an invitation to remind parents of time. (I didn't do this step this year, but I always have before.)

3.  Create a simple plan form of those things you want students to show.  Usually I just make a checklist with things like:  Share your independent reading book, share the best journal writing you did last week, play a math game, show your science notebook, show the super improvers wall, etc.  Basically anything you want parents to see can go here.  Students make a folder to contain their conference paperwork, too.  Students write a letter to their family, too.

4.  Have students write down goals.  This can be on a piece of notebook paper or on a form you create. This year I had students write down one thing they enjoyed or did well, one goal, and what they need to do to reach their goal.

5.  I have up to 4 conferences going on at the same time.  Most kids are showing the stuff on their plan form.  I also set up a little snack table.

6.  I have one designated area for the goal discussion with parents/caregivers, students, teachers.  Some years I have the students sit in my chair at my desk, with chairs around for the adults.  This year we set up a couple chairs by the couch.  This is the area where I spend most of my time.  I have students share their goals, invite parent input, and after addressing those I just say good stuff.

Thursday is the super busy time for me.  I did not leave the couch area from 3:45 - 7:00, except to clarify or support students.  I write down notes about what students say.

People always worry that there might be something private that won't get said, but the truth is I've usually had correspondence on really tough stuff prior to this.  Usually adults or kids say the stuff I feel like I need to.  {That probably happens 90% of the time, and the other 10% people are usually not ready to address anyway.}  This takes the pressure off the teacher.  I feel like my students were honest and accurate.  It's rare to shock a parent in 4th grade with something they have honestly never heard before!

I've used this model successfully with grades 1 - 4.  I do have a conference night earlier in the year when I try to address the needs of new students or parents with specific concerns.  Kids usually ask when we are going to have conferences again because it is so positive!  Sometimes we do conferences again in February.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Shine: Part 1

I'm committing the next six Mondays to the little word shine.  I've been learning so much about what it means for me to shine and not shine.  Here are some of my thoughts on this little topic:

I want to start with this quote that has always blown me away.  I know it's super powerful because Nelson Mandela used it in his inaugural address.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.  {Marrianne Williamson}

What would life be like if we just took this to heart?  I can't even imagine a world like that, but I want to believe it's possible!

I guess my question for all of us today is two-fold:  Where are you shining brightly?  Where else could you be shining brightly?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Update Of Super Improvers Wall

Here is my Super Improvers Wall, as of Friday.  I'm still loving it and the other Whole Brain Teaching tools I'm using.  If you're feeling frustrated with student behavior, work habits, growth or motivation, this is a great tool!

Here is what I especially like about the wall after using it about 8-9 weeks:

  • It's still motivating most of my students {and EVERYONE want to know what happens after someone reaches "Living Legend"}
  • There is an element of responsibility built in.  Students must keep their star card.  If you lose your card, you start the level over--no exceptions.
  • Most students are supportive of each other.  There is always applause, initiated by students, when someone moves to the next level.
  • I'm less easily frustrated by behavior, because it's easy to shift momentum by looking around and giving stars.
  • It encompasses behavior, work habits, and academic growth.
  • It's positive--no one ever loses starts.
  • It costs me nothing, but a little time.
If you want to learn more about Whole Brain Teaching, check out this site.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hunting For Hearts

I went out to the woods with my little family.  We were hiking.  I started looking for rocks shaped like hearts along the path.  Sam was very emphatic that I was not on my mission.  As I would stop to take photos, he said things like, "That doesn't look like a heart to me." and "That one is just a triangle."  This cracked me up and simultaneously made me sad that we humans learn to rain on other people's parades so early in life.

He was into the spirit of the thing, because I had to take a picture of this nut shell that Sam found:

Despite Sam's doubt of my artistic eye, I saw lots of hearts when I really started looking:

And so, what is the lesson in all of this {it seems like every situation these days has a lesson for me}  Keep looking for what you want to find, and don't let anyone, even people you love, rain on your parade!

I hope you find what you're looking for!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Circle Time, Part 2: Everyday Math

I love to run my teaching groups in circles.  There is something powerful about everyone facing everyone and sitting next to each other.  This year I'm trying to teach most of my Everyday Math lessons in 2 groups.

Here is how it works or at least how I hope it works:

1.  I have 2 groups--Group Amazing and Group Brilliant (A and B)  They are mostly ability groupings--but I don't have a perfect science on that.

2.  We usually check homework or do time drills or review vocab or do the Math Message whole group for the first 15 min. (Notice I said or, or, or.  I don't try to do more than 1, or if I'm lucky 2 of those things.)

3.  Then I meet with Group Amazing--they require more time.  I run through the main teaching part of the lesson.

4.  While working with Group A, Group B is doing their seat job (usually Math Boxes, but sometimes other practice tasks) for 15 - 20 min. and then a Game for 10 min.

5.  Then we switch.  Sometimes Group A is finishing up at their seats or together while I get started with group B.

6.  With many lessons, Group B catches on quickly enough that they support each other after the first 10 - 15 min.  I often have 5 minutes to field questions from the seat work in Group A.

7.  I'm super fortunate this year because a tutor comes in 3 days a week to support Group A members at their seat.

I teach a lot from a little white board.  It works well when we are in a circle.  Kids are very motivated, and it's much harder to zone out because everyone can see if you're working.  The time always flies by.  I feel like I have less control, but the students have lots more opportunity for independence, self control, and support from peers.

Do you use groups for Math, especially Everyday Math?  What works for you?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Super Simple Evaporation, Condensation, and Sublimation

Science lessons do not have to be complicated or expensive for kids to enjoy them.  I'm often surprised how much enthusiasm the simplest activities can garner.

We are just wrapping up a Changing Matter Unit.  We've had these 3 little cups and bags that we have been observing for 4 weeks now.

The first is a bag of water taped to the window in which condensation continues to occur.  This is the most static of the 3 observations.  Since the bag is sealed the process just continues.

Next we have a cup that was filled with water, and we are watching the process of evaporation.  We also see some foreign particles that are kinda' gross.  When the heat was turned on in the building, the students were surprised to see an obvious change overnight.  {Did I mention that some kids literally check these every single day?  It's true.  You would think they would be over it, but they aren't!}

Finally we have sublimation taking place.  This is the best because I love the word sublimation, and kids think they smell horrible!  The plastic cup is crinkled all around the bottom, and those little guys are about 25% of their original size!  Kids are mystified by the fact that there is no liquid in the process--solid to gas.  It seems like magic to them.

I really like process in Science.  I like this because it ends up being about 6 weeks, but it's only a focus for about 3 day.  In there science notebook, students label a page with these 3 words.  Then they eyeball dividing the page in thirds.  {We do half first and then go for thirds.  Most are surprisingly good!}  They draw what they see and write a very brief description.  About half way in we drew the changes we had scene and described.  They will do this one more time.

It's super simple, but the students are engaged, learning vocabulary, and practicing scientific observation skills.

What is your favorite simple science?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Art With Kids

This year I'm trying to spend 30 - 45 minutes at the very end of our week doing something FUN!  You know the kind of stuff that kids will look forward to all week.  {The kind of stuff that can be hard to justify inside Common Core and other regulations that suck the joy right out of the whole deal.}

For my students this year one of those things is watercolor painting.  We played with paint on paper to just see if we could follow the procedures for a whole class of wet paint and dirty water.  Then kids went to town on self portraits.  I realized that most of these kids have not done this sort of stuff in their life away from school.  So all week I said we would water color on Friday.

We were running out of time, but I had some fruits of the season--gourds, apples, corn.  We talked about how they could be inspired by these pieces to do whatever they wanted.  I also invited students to stay and sketch because sometimes it's just fun to draw what you see.

I loved what they saw!  I only had a chance after school to snap a few pieces that were left behind or unfinished.  Aren't they cool?

So how to fit this in with CCS:  I think writing/speaking are the perfect places.  I don't have the standards right here with me now, but a huge focus is giving reasons to support your choice or argument.  Here are a few ideas that have come to mind:

Is Fall your favorite season?  Give 3 reasons for your answer.
Explain why it is important for our class to watercolor paint.  Support your answer.
Explain the process of water color painting.  Explain the steps of the process in order.

I think these could be both written or oral arguments/discussions.  I also think it would be very fun for kids to make little movies responding to one of these questions.  {That will probably require a month of Fridays!}

We're on our sides!  Can you see the ghosts and pumpkins and big moon?

What are you doing to have fun with your students?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Mommy Magic

I've been feeling very restless in my spirit.  I know there are some big changes on the horizon.  I'm cautiously excited and scared out of my wits.

The one constant is Sam.  The way he never ceased to amaze me and make me laugh and test the limits of my patience.  We share these crazy moments that I call Mommy Magic.  These are the moments {sometimes rare} when I feel like I'm doing my mom job well.

I have mommy magic when I get him to eat vegetables he wasn't planning to eat--usually because I'm eating them.  He will sit on my lap and take a bit and then more--mommy magic.

I have mommy magic when we go shopping and it just so happens that Skippy John Jones shows up.

I have mommy magic when we go hiking in the woods and he dances on tree stumps, hugs trees, and runs down the trail.

I have mommy magic when he wants me to sing the theme song to Inspector Gadget with him or read him Geronimo Stilton books.

I have mommy magic when I hear the angelic sleep breathing of that 3 year old.

There are so many moments and hours and days when I feel completely incompetent and I think he would be better off without me, but there are those moments.

And they are pure magic, mommy magic.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Circle Time In 4th Grade: Part 1

I used to teach first grade.  We had circle time.  It was a powerful time of learning and growth and socializing.

I never thought it would be even more powerful in 4th grade.

I'm starting an occasional series of ways I'm using circles in my classroom to develop all sorts of skills.

So I've written some about this before, but the most frequent way we use the circle is for our class meetings.  We take a little break, some kids have snacks from home.  We all move our chairs to sit in a circle.  The circle is kinda sacred.

Recently I've spent a good deal of our class meeting time discussion expectations and giving kids a chance to share.  4th graders really count on this time to have their voices heard.  You don't have to talk about the topic, but you must say Good Morning.

We went on a field trip yesterday.  It was a little unusual because there are 3 fourth grades classes in our building, but our trip was split in 2 groups.  Our class was split, so we didn't all have identical experiences.

This morning I was trying to rush our meeting because we had an assembly, but one fairly quiet student said, "Aren't we going to talk about what we liked on the field trip?"  I could have rushed right over that, but I would have missed the smiles and enthusiasm as kids talked about their experiences and compared notes a bit.

We also use the time to work on a variety of social skills.  I'll write more about those at some future point.

Do you use any sort of circle time in your classroom?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hosting A Family Night

I find that family involvement is very valuable component to a successful school year.  These events don’t have to be fancy or have lots of bells and whistles.  Usually I try to get buy in from kids, and then the rest is easy.

I just had my first family event of the year.  It was called Multiplication Madness.  It was one hour of basic fact games and activities.  Doesn’t that sound like just more homework?  But kids will beg parents to return to school for just a little incentive like door prizes or snacks.

I had about one third of my students attend.  I also had a few siblings. 

Here are the steps I recommend for planning and hosting a successful family involvement event:

  1. Choose a theme or focus.  Keep it very positive and upbeat.  Some themes I’ve chosen in the past include math games,  homework success, out of this world reading, etc.  I try to choose something that is well suited to my students and timely to what we are learning.
  2. Promote it with kids.  Really talk it up.  This time I said I had multiplication games that they had not seen yet, they would be able to use the Smartboard to play the games of their choice, and there would be door prizes.
  3. Have the students promote the event and invite adults.  I copied the basic info of the night--what, where, when--on half a sheet of paper turned landscape.  The students folded that in and decorated the front to make an invitation to give to the adult of their choice.  In the past I’ve had grandparents, aunts, adult siblings, and babysitters attend.
  4. Continue to promote with parents.  I sent an email out to my parent list.
  5. Gather the materials you need, but keep it simple.  I went to a dollar store to buy door prizes.  I try to relate these to the theme.  If we are doing reading, I give away books.  If we are doing homework help, I make little homework boxes.  This time I had an assortment of calculators, bendable rulers, compasses, mechanical pencils, and fancy erasers.
  6. Put together a page or a packet that the grownups can take away with hints, ideas, and resources related to the topic.
  7. I try to spend little time talking, and set up activities for kids and adults to do together.  For Multiplication Madness we had time drills (kids vs. adults), 2 computers with online games, wipe off practice boards, a game to make and take home, various decks of flash cards, EM game--Multiplication Baseball.  
  8. I try to mingle, encourage, and respond to questions.
  9. I did the drawing for door prizes about 30 minutes in.  It worked out for everyone to get a prize.  Cost of prizes:  about $8  I do NOT always do prizes, but I usually try to for the first event of the year.
  10.   Ask kids to help clean up.  The adults will follow.

I find that I over plan, and that less is usually more.  I reap great rewards from these sorts of events.  {They really pay off when I need to share difficult information of any sort.)  

Some people ask this:  Don’t the same people always show up?  Isn’t it the ones who don’t need it who attend?

My response:  In this day and age the parents who are really parenting their kids need to be encouraged and supported.  At the very least those people are getting the message to keep doing what they are doing.  {There is almost always one kid or adult who attends that really surprises me.  I think my job is to offer it not control the results.)

I wish I could find a job where I got to do this all the time!  It’s like being an educational party planner!

What sort of events do you do with your students and their adults?

Monday, October 1, 2012

I Choose Kindness

My students are on a Kindness Campaign this year.  They are practicing kindness.  {I wish more grown ups would do this!}

A little over a week ago my students made Kindness Wands.  This was a Friday afternoon Investigation where we expand or extend our learning or thinking.  This was a little twist on the great ideas of Patience Salgado's Magic Wand Project over at KindnessGirl.

Students made Kindness Wands with ribbon, popcicle stick, foam stars, and a label that says, "I choose kindness."  They made one for themselves, and then they made more for friends, siblings, and other kids.  Our goal is to eventually have one for every kid and adult in our school.

It's such a great little visual reminder to choose kindness in what we say and how we choose to treat other people.

My students are so empowered by the Kindness Campaign.

What are you doing that empowers your students?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Everyday Math Self Check Math Boxes

Last year was the first year I had my students self check their EM Math Boxes.  {If you're not familiar with Everyday Math, each lesson has 5 - 6 boxes that practice skills from all different topics.  For example, there will be one problem each of geometry, basic facts, number stories, data,  and measurement on one page.}

Here has been my evolution of thinking:

6 years ago I would take home 76 Math Journals a couple weekends a month and give most of the weekend to check math boxes---INSANE!

The next couple years I just check the boxes linked to assessment, but I didn't like the lazy work habits I saw in some students.

I thought long and hard.  I thought about what I really wanted my students to accomplish.  I wanted them to get maximum practice and feedback for the practice.  

Last year I started having students check their own math boxes.  I create and display a key.  All the keys for the current unit go into a clear pocket.  Students use red pen to make all corrections.

Of course there are a few cheaters, but most students thrive in the low pressure approach to practice.

I do check occasionally for effort, but I'm able to invest more energy in the lessons and what extra support kids need.

What's working for you about the way you teach math?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Poetry Writing Early In 4th Grade

I chuckle at the response of 4th graders when I tell them they are going to write poetry--disbelief, groans, cheers are heard!  I don't usually start this early in the year, but I think poetry is great for reluctant writers, because poets don't have to follow the conventional rules of sentence structure or grammar.

Last week my students wrote Auto-Biography Poems, using the rough draft template over at Create Teach Share.  I loved this activity!  It was so successful.  Everyone has a poem hanging on their locker.  I totally enjoyed reading them, too!  I'm going to keep this as an early in the year writing workshop activity.

What have you tried this year that you know you're going to keep for future years?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spaces Where Kids Love To Work

Creating spaces in your classroom where kids love to work do NOT need to be expensive or permanent!  Here are two of my favorite ways that are working this week--and have worked for many weeks in the past.

First, I have a wooden TV Tray that I bought for $5 at a garage sale.  I originally bought it to demonstrate science activities.  It's not pretty, but my students LOVE to pull over a couple of chairs to work around it.  It's ideal for a partner activity.  It also folds up and fits in the locker in my classroom.

Additionally, I LOVE my little rugs.  I got them for less than $2 each.  They fold up and hide in one little bin.  Some kids sit on them, and other kids set out their work on them.  Some kids sit there to read.

These things are simple, cheap, portable, and HIGHLY MOTIVATIONAL.

What simple and cheap ideas do you have for the classroom?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Ahhh! The Weekend

Sometimes I'm tempted to so overpack my weekend with both school and homework and, even fun.  Sometimes I just need to face it--I NEED A BREAK, A REST, A SABBATH!

This morning I got to spend time with my little family out in nature and at a gorgeous farmers market.  It felt like Fall--sweatshirt weather and then sunshine and back into short sleeves.  It was simple and gentle--a break!

I'm trying to accept my human limitations and accept that this is enough.  I also want to share lots of stuff I feel good about in my classroom.  I think that can wait for another day!

Hope you have a break this weekend!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Super Improvers Wall

This summer I went to a Whole Brain Teaching Conference, and it got me really excited about doing some new classroom management and lesson delivery methods in my classroom this year.

This week we just started our Super Improvers Wall, even though it has been in place since students first entered the classroom.  Every day I was asked multiple times what it was--curiosity was peaked!

Here's how we are doing the SIW:

  • Everyone has a card with their name on it.  I stuck a printed address label with first names on black business card size card stock.
  • The levels are listed in corresponding colors on the side--Rookie (red) all the way up to Living Legend (silver sparkle with sparkling dots--fan-cy!)  There are 10 levels
  • Each child has an index card on their desk--they are completely responsible for their "Star Card."  {You lose it, and I say, "I'm sorry.  Help yourself to a blank index card to start this level over." No cards lost this week!
  • When I see you improving yourself, your work habits, your effort, your behavior, the quality of your work, then I can give you a star with my special teacher pen.  {I was skeptical that my first little behavior guy would rise to the occasion, but on the first day he spent most of my teaching time with his eyes glued to me and hands folded on his desk--this is a cool 4th grade boy!  Shocking!--Of course he earned a star!}
  • You can NOT ask for stars or point out your own good work, but you can point out the super work of other students for teacher consideration!
  • 10 stars on your star card and you get a red paper around your name card on the super improvers wall.  Yep I've been told that my students will improve and work hard for a small piece of construction paper around their name.
  • Half way up the chart you also get your picture taken for our Wall of Fame.
  • My class is so enthusiastic about this!  So am I!
  • Here are some questions they have:
  •                        Can you lose stars?  NO
  •                       What happens after you become a Living Legend?  This will be revealed after we    have our first living legend!  Oh the suspense and anticipation!
The Super Improvers Wall is such an easy way to challenge kids to always improve.  It's also virtually free!

You can read more about it on the WBT Forums--just scroll down.  And you can find lots more just by typing the title into a search engine.

What have you started this year that is making your life and teaching better?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Community And Class Meeting

I've written numerous times about how Class Meeting is probably my favorite community builder in the classroom.

It has a crazy cumulative effect!

{Sometimes it's hard to remember this at the beginning of the process!}

This week one outstanding meeting focused around the topic of honesty.  {I love how honest kids are!}

We quickly decided that there are 2 main reasons people are dishonest:

1.  To avoid getting in trouble
2.  To get other people in trouble

{I wondered if perhaps grown ups might need to be reminded of this.}

I'm also a bit surprised that some students already say class meeting is their favorite part of the day.

Our format is super simple:

Students can bring healthy snacks
We face each other
We talk, greet, problem solve, question, etc.

All this takes place in about 15 minutes, and then we go on with our day.

What are you doing to build or strengthen community this year?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Everyday Math Vocab Tip

Every year I struggle with my students really learning AND USING new vocabulary--especially in math.  In previous years I've made a variety of word walls and posters.  This year I'm trying a twist on words on rings.  Students bring in a set of index cards, and this year we've already started putting them to good use.

I'm calling them "Math Code Cards."  The reason for this is that it's rare to meet a 4th grade boy who doesn't like cheat code books.  We've already started calling them "Code Crackers."

At this point in the year I'm writing everything out on the board and students are just copying it.  Eventually it will become more independent.  It is taking a good amount of time, but I feel like it's a good use of time.  I believe this because on our first "Friday quiz"  many students asked if they could use their Code Crackers!

What have you started new this year that you like?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Goodbye Summer

I've had an amazing summer with my little family!  Sooooo many adventures--these are some of the highlights:

Making and eating chocolate chunk pancakes together

Sam's first trip to the ocean, Ocean City, Maryland

Sam's first ferris wheel with Aunt Beth

Visioning the Best Year Ever--live and online workshops for teachers

Hiking and exploring for crazy numbers of hours

The curiosity of cool history--glass blowing at Hale Farm & Village

Feed buffalo out the car window at African Wildlife Safari

Lake Erie and sand make for bliss, Lakeside, Ohio

Camping in a teepee

Discovering the Children's Museum of Cleveland

Celebrating grandpa's birthday

I hope your summer was as memorable as ours.  I'm sure our hearts will be warmed all winter by these great memories!