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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tips on Tuesday: Never Underestimate the Power in an Hour

The past few weeks, I have gotten back to one of my first loves--volunteering in my children's classrooms. Mainly, I've been in Kindergarten.  I love those little smiling faces with hair falling in their eyes, shirts skewed a little and the girls with their 'bling'. I get to read with them...or listen as they read to me. And they are READING to me!!! 

Does anyone else remember being in kindergarten when the biggest thing you had to learn in the year was how to share the crayons? We're halfway through the year and they know the letters and the phonetic sounds and they string it all together to read words. Now I get to listen and ask questions to help them learn to comprehend what they are reading. Just saying words isn't going to cut it. What do the words put together mean?

It's fascinating. It's fun. It's also very interesting--in a good way. They have insights that you can't believe. They tell me about their mommy and daddy and pets. Maybe a little about their siblings. Sometimes they show me their new clothes or hairdo. And spending five minutes listening to them and letting them read and giving a high five for a job well done is all it takes to put a big smile on their faces. 

You can't buy this kind of joy in a store. And what makes me sad is how many other rooms that do not have a mommy or a daddy or a grandma or a friend of children to come and listen. I am taking one hour out of my week. It's only 60 minutes. I can only get to about 10 kids in that time slot. But what a return on my investment. I give an hour, some high fives, praise and smiles and I am rewarded with precious stories, gap-toothed grins and the knowledge that the next generation will have 20 students who love to read. All because I took an hour.

So here's my challenge to you--what's your excuse? Maybe kids isn't your thing. But the library needs help to shelve books. Soup kitchens need help serving meals. Food pantries need people to put cans on a shelf. Make a goal and find a way to give to someone or something else. Get out and see the bigger picture.

The photo below is from the Successories store. I bought this exact postcard when I was first married and too poor to afford the framed print. That card has stayed on my desk for over 20 years now. It gets lost in the shuffle and then reappears at different times. And every time I see it, I take a moment to think about my own priorities. And I'm thrilled to note that I think this world really and truly will be a better place because I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I'm important in the lives of some children. Not just my three biological children, but for this year it's 20 kindergartners (and 21 fourth graders). 

"A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, 
the sort of house I live in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world 
may be different because I was important in the life of a child."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Life is not measured 
by the number of breaths we take, 
but by the moments 
that take our breath away.

 Rebekah wanted a Happy Napper for Christmas. She didn't get one on Christmas day, but when we got home and opened presents here, there was one under the tree.

For those who don't know, a Happy Napper is a pillow and a pet (but not a Pillow Pet--that's different). The pet comes inside a house with a doorbell that works. Then you unzip the door, turn it inside out and it becomes the pet. Unzip the flap again and turn it inside out so that you have the house again.

Rebekah got the ladybug in the pink house. When you ring her doorbell, you hear the ladybug snoring.

The day after she got her Happy Napper, she was carrying it around and told me, 
"Mommy, I've ALWAYS wanted a Happy Napper. Now my life is complete!"

There you have it. 
Nirvana at age 5...because she has a Happy Napper. 
So glad that $19.99 made her whole world complete. 
Whew! That was easier than I thought. (giggle)

And here's princess Rebekah who had a sick day on Friday. She fell asleep on her Happy Napper while watching TV and her brothers were at their piano lesson. We walked into this precious scene on our couch. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tips on Tuesday: Walk a Mile in Someone's Shoes

The past few weeks, it has become more and more clear to me. I have been reconnecting with people after the holidays and some folks I haven't seen in a while. And each person, no matter how polished and cheerful they appear to be, is going through 'stuff'. What I'm learning is that everyone is going through 'stuff'...and usually it is 'BIG STUFF'. And while my BIG STUFF might seem manageable to me--I'm learning it's still big, it's still stuff and it affects my interactions with others.

I'm also learning that everyone I'm talking to is going through their own BIG STUFF and it affects them. Some react better than others. But when I find out that the person who was a little snippy with me learned that a father/mother/sister/brother is battling cancer and there are more unknowns that known, I can forgive a little easier. And when people share their stuff with me, I sometimes marvel at the fact that they are still standing. I often think that if I had to go through their stuff, I'd be crushed and couldn't cope. Yet, when I share my stuff, I often hear people tell me, "I couldn't ever do what you're doing." But here I am...doing what I do...and trying to keep myself upbeat.

I'm sure you're wondering what the point of all of this rambling is. I'm glad you asked. If each of us would accept the fact that everyone we meet is going through BIG STUFF in their life, couldn't we be a little more kind to each other. If we give out a little more grace and a little less judgement, would it be easier to get through our own BIG STUFF? 

Here's my thought for today...and tomorrow...and the day after that...

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Tips on Tuesday: I resolve...

Well, another new year has begun and it seem like everyone is talking about their New Year's Resolutions. I have a fairly strict policy of no New Year's Resolutions. I find them to generally be made with no real belief that they will be accomplished.

I've always believed in a more goal-oriented style. I tend to set my goals to run with the school year and add a few minor ones over summer vacation. This year, however, finds me in a place of quandary. I worked a part-time job for the Christmas season and found that for six weeks, my goals (and most of my life) had to be put on hold while I just tried to keep clean clothes on my kids and food on our table. 

So this year, I am NOT making any resolutions. I AM making goals to carry me to the end of the school year. I'm a firm believer in using the SMART goal-setting method. 
Is your goal:
1. Specific (What exactly will you accomplish?)
2. Measurable (How will you know when you've reached the goal?)
3. Achievable (Is the goal realistic to achieve with effort and commitment?)
4. Relevant (How is this goal significant to your life?)
5. Timely (When will the goal be achieved?)

I'm setting some goals to get my house back in order after six weeks of neglect. I'm setting a goal for cleaning out kid closets and getting a specific number of items prepared to sell at the spring consignment sale I participate in. I'm also setting a goal to reconnect with friends--which means I make some time for me. 

I hope you will create or take some time to check in on your goals. Are you moving towards where you want to be? Keep me posted on your progress. I'll let you know how things are going here, too.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Wishing you and yours a 
Happy and Prosperous New Year!

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