Thanksgiving, and most holidays really, bring families together. Note that I didn’t say, “closer together”.

Families are a special breed. I mean think about it. We are expected, as family members, to like one another. We are supposed to want to spend time with one another. We are supposed to want to share secrets, stories, and memories. We are supposed to laugh together, hug together, experience joy together, and to generally like being around one another. But….This doesn’t always happen.

Even though we are members of a family, we are still very unique individuals with different abilities, different beliefs, different likes, and different tastes in music. Some family members don’t even like the same kind of food, even if the recipes have been in said family for generations. All of these differences can cause strife.

I am very lucky. I honestly like getting together with my family. We laugh a lot! We make fun of each other, and make sure no embarrassing moment is forgotten. We love to eat even though my mom and sister are truly vanilla while my brother, my dad, and I love tasty spicy food. Nothing is sacred in our family, and I love that, but I have to admit that sometimes moments do become difficult.

I know that all families aren’t this lucky. I know that there are estranged families who get together rarely, if ever. I know that abuse, neglect, and broken hearts have created holes in relationships that cannot be filled in. I know that instead of finding comfort within the arms of family members, many must rely on friends and significant others. I know this. I do.

At our school we have worked and continue to work hard at creating a family environment. We know that many of our babies and families need our support, our love, and our time to make them whole. We strive to provide ears for listening, arms for holding, and hands for working. Our children need us as more than educators, so we become their family. We laugh, we joke, we learn, we research, we cry, we argue, and we find joy in one another. We are not just a school full of students, of teachers, of administrators, and of aids. We are in this together as one strong team. Yes, someone may have a bad day and in a family of 500+ this may happen quite frequently. But that’s okay because we all know that we depend on one another to make our family work. We know that we can rely on one another…no matter what.

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Do not ask me why, but whenever I am getting ready to go somewhere I often have these thoughts. Maybe I am trying to avoid looking at the aging person in the reflection of the mirror in front of me and a deeper recess of my brain starts to come alive. The other day I had a foreshadowing about a book my class was reading together while brushing my teeth. Go figure.

Anyway I was thinking about the difference between being a visionary leader and being a controlling person. Leaders take in consideration the whole big picture, do what is best for everyone, listen to others, then reflect on the information that they have heard. Controlling people want everyone to do what they think is best only, not taking into consideration the whole.

Sometimes thinking outside the box creates solutions  that would not have been thought of if you look at the problem with tunnel vision only.

I guess this is just my opinion and maybe I am wrong. However, when I observe truly ingenious leaders take charge it is easy to see that they have a gift of leadership that is special. Not to be weird but Lori has this gift.

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Thanksgiving Wish

We all know that Thanksgiving is a time of reflection; to examine all the wonderful people and to be grateful for everything we have acquired and accomplished in our lives. And really when you think about it, there are an infinite number of reasons to be thankful. Really think about it…. A close friend or family member that listens to you in your time of need, the church that welcomes you once you enter its doors, the children that laugh around you, the dog or cat that’s there to pet, the meal you eat, the blanket you wrap yourself in at night, the husband or wife you lean on, cuddle with, and confide in.

I consider myself so lucky. Yes, I’ve worked hard for everyone and everything I have in my life, but I know that they are still a gift. The love I still feel for my husband, the adoration I feel when I look at my girls, and the pride I feel when I watch my students accomplish great things each and every day….these are gifts.

I wish that everyone can find something to be grateful and thankful for this holiday. I wish everyone peace, happiness, and relaxation. I wish you all love, and kindness, and laughter. I wish you full stomachs, happy hearts, and calm minds.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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One of Those Days

Did you ever have one of those days?

You turn your alarm off instead of hitting snooze, so you wake up in a panic 45 minutes later. Since you were dreaming about wearing a wedding dress with a black t-shirt under it while being on a field trip to a water park with your class, you are a little out of sorts.

You stumble to the coffee pot only to realize you forgot to set the automatic timer, so no coffee either. Then you run downstairs to the basement to sort through the dryer for…well let’s just say undergarments. You finally get into the shower, drop the shampoo bottle you decided to buy on sale that is in a 10 gallon container, ouch! As you lean down to pick the bargain shampoo up you crack your head on the faucet. You want to begin a loud rant with some choice words but you know your family is asleep, so you better not.

You finally get dressed in your moo-moo, oh I mean long sweater, to cover up your body since you have not lost any weight, even though you walk, ride a stationary bike, and do blast-off turbo-cardio blah, blah, blah with some crazy fitness witch on a CD you borrowed.

Now you get to go to school and deal with brutally honest middle school students who tell you when you are not looking your best.

Well, have you ever had one of those days?

Remember sometimes kids have those kind of days too but with worse issues. Fear of abuse, lack of food, unwashed or ill fitting clothes to throw on, or feeling that they are unimportant or invisible is way worse.

I had to seriously tell myself to calm down and laugh about it all so I would be there for the students. Yes, they asked me what happened to my hair and why was there a red mark on my forehead, but that’s okay, it made me human, yet AGAIN!

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Patience is a Virtue

Patience….Patience…..Have Patience….Try Patience….It will come in time….Just be calm….It’s only a matter of time….PATIENCE!!!!

I have a confession. I do not have patience. I am in a rush in every aspect of my life. My husband is calm. He is a procrastinator. He calmly lowers and adjusts the blinds at night. He calmly waits for the oil to circulate in the engine before putting the car in drive (I think this is a way for him to drive me crazy). He takes his time getting up on a Saturday morning to walk the dogs for their morning urination and constitution. Now I one the other hand, will be the first one to turn in an assignment. I will and have broken the blinds in my haste to darken a room, and I have been seen wearing a t-shirt and boxers in the haste to get the dogs out in the morning.

So patience. I totally hate the word. Some people don’t like the word “moist”, but for me it is “patience”. It’s a joke. It taunts me. It is an absurdity.

As many of you know, Amy and I have a book series coming out soon. Yep, we wrote 18 books and they are on the brink of production. We’ve seen the illustrations for the fist book and the layout. Our publishers give us ten days for an edit, we get it back to them in three hours. In the very first letter they sent us confirming the production of our books, a line stated that it is important to be patient in the publishing process. Amy and I just looked at each other, rolled our eyes, and signed the contract. We are both so ready to share our books with you and the world!

Teaching is patience personified, especially when you are working with at-risk students. Our students usually don’t move as fast as typical students. They need a little more guidance, a little more instruction, a little more reinforcement, and a little more care. So how do two teachers on the edge teach at-risk students? We take a deep breath and do. We expend our excess energy in the development of lessons, in artistic connections, and in our enthusiasm in loving our students. As I sit in my office I can literally hear Amy laughing and joking with our kids. She is out there “talking” with them constantly. She yells, she laughs, and she hugs with complete absorption. This takes excess energy. This takes enthusiasm, and above all to connect with our students to do their very best….this takes patience.

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