Isle of Storms – An Epic 5th Grade Collaboration to Benefit Special Olympics

There is nothing better than a good adventure story, except when there is a GREAT adventure story created through the collaboration of an entire 5th grade class AND the proceeds from its sale go to Special Olympics!!!

Prior to their school year being cut short by the Coronavirus, Mrs. Rebecca Harvey‘s 5th grade class read The Man Who Loved Clowns by June Rae Wood.

Isle of Storms 4

The class was fascinated by the character Punky. In the book, Punky is the uncle of main character Delrita. The story revolves around Delrita’s desire to go unnoticed by society because of the embarrassment she feels over Punky’s behavior, while still loving his childlike ways. Punky has Down Syndrome and the challenges of living with and loving someone who has an intellectual disability are shared in an honest and compelling manner.

The class was so moved by Punky’s story and connections they made to individuals with Down Syndrome that they decided to do something for the Special Olympics. They just weren’t sure what it was yet.

Continue reading “Isle of Storms – An Epic 5th Grade Collaboration to Benefit Special Olympics”

The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday

 

Handy Rationalizations 2

I will be honest. We have turned off our TV this week. (Mostly because I feel like the first five days of violence in America’s streets were enough to give my kids the understanding that things are not okay.) Secondly, it has allowed hubby and I to turn down the noise of the media and have serious and sincere discussions with our children about what’s going on and the ugly history behind it. The truth is we can’t turn off the ugliness in our world. There is no universal remote for peace, kindness, or equality. We can, however,  turn up the discussion on what must change and tune into what will make our world a better place.

Currently, I am reading Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. I began reading this before George Floyd’s tragic death, but the book’s contents have rang painfully true for me in these times. Previously I’d read about the history behind the apartheid in South Africa and the impacts of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison, but never did I give the circumstances of those who lived it much consideration. In my mind, it was as if a switch must have been flipped in South Africa, one day the apartheid ruled and the next day things were hunky dory. The problem with my thinking on that situation is as wrong and hurtful as those who are allowing generalizations and stereotypes to rule their reactions and beliefs about the protests and riots today. I am grateful Trevor Noah’s book provided me with the opportunity to grow in my understanding.

Handy Rationalizations 1

Noah does a terrific job of addressing his life experiences and the viewpoints of the South African apartheid in a candid and witty manner. I with that everyone would follow his lead and use this perspective to see the race situation for what it is and eliminate the handy rationalizations that allow the division of people’s to perpetuate.

Continue reading “The Hurt in Handy Rationalizations – #ThoughtfulThursday”

The Hardest Kind of Teacher – #WiseWordsWednesday

The Hardest Kind of Teacher

“Experience is the hardest kind of teacher. It gives you the test first and the lesson afterward.” – Oscar Wilde

Have you ever heard smoke alarms go off in vacation condos?

If you’ve ever heard a vacation condo smoke alarm, you know it is a very displeasing sound, as alarms should be.

For two years in a row now I have had the displeasure of hearing the exact same vacation condo smoke alarm blaring for all the world to hear. It wouldn’t be so bad except that when the smoke alarm goes off in our condo unit it goes off in all four of the condo units. 

Now I know you’re asking yourself, “What lesson does this experience teach us?”

Well, there are a few simple life lesson reminders ringing in these alarms.

1. If you ring the alarm too many times, people will ignore your cries for help. It goes along with the proverbial, “Don’t cry wolf.” Our alarm went off so many times last summer that all of the men hanging out telling fish stories on the deck totally ignored the blaring beeps because they didn’t think there was a problem, when in fact, there was a pot boiling over inside as I attending to a bike cycle accident booboo outside.

During our most recent vacation, I set the alarm off repeatedly trying to make a breakfast casserole, no one came running to our aid because they believed there was no fire. They were right; there was no fire, but what if there had been?

The experience lesson here is: If you know an alarm is faulty be prepared to not have anyone come to your aid.

2. The alarms in the other condo units are just as touchy as the one in our room. Unfortunately, this does not stop my panic reaction when I hear the smoke alarm sound. I am always ready to jump up and rescue whomever is in danger. This is stressful because I haven’t had to rescue anyone but went through the adrenaline and fear of needing to save someone with each and every siren sound.

This life lesson is very similar to #1: If you know someone else has a faulty alarm, be weary of always rushing to their aid. It may not always be a fire you can put out or even need to attempt to squelch. It may just be another hot mess looking for someone to rescue them from their insecurities or poor choices.

Let the lessons of touchy fire alarms and emotional appeals allow us to make positive choices as we determine how we use our energy. Don’t go pushing that panic button if panic isn’t needed and you don’t have to suit up and charge in every time someone signals for help. Make the most of your intents and use your energy in real emergencies.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Always know where the emergency exits are. Just in case…

 

Don’t Close the Door on Idiosyncrasies

What is the weirdest thing that bothers you?

What idiosyncrasy do you hold near and dear to your heart?

My friend Brian has a passion for keeping the door to his office closed when it is not in use. The door’s closure allows him focus and to maintain the energy he needs to be most effective at his job. Brian will post on Facebook hilarious rants about the need for that door to be closed. His posts make me laugh, but also remind me that the idiosyncrasies that set us apart are also what make us all human.

Open Door Idyosyncrasy

Continue reading “Don’t Close the Door on Idiosyncrasies”

May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think

May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think

Don't believe everything you think

Peter Pan is a story about never growing up and believing in the unbelievable. When I was a kid, my younger sisters had a VHS of Peter Pan starring Sandy Duncan. They loved that movie. We watched it A LOT, but the scene that sticks out most in my mind is the one where Tinkerbell’s light is going out and Peter Pan begs the audience to clap and cheer so that Tinkerbell would know they believed in her. Eventually, Tinkerbell’s light grew brighter; the music swelled and Peter Pan’s enthusiasm grew, knowing that darn good and well the kids at home JUST HAD to be clapping and cheering their little hearts out to bring Tink back.

Well, here’s the thing. Not everyone was cheering. (In my house we were not all cheering because we had seen the film 12,867 times.) Most were not cheering because they knew that Tinkerbell was just a light on the television screen and no amount of in-home enthusiasm was going to change that bulb’s brightness. The unbelievers chose not to support the idea that there was a fairy dying from unbelief of children.

Okay?!? Right now you are thinking, where is the positivity here? Why are you killing off Tinkerbell? Continue reading “May Positivity Challenge – Don’t Believe Everything You Think”

Quarantine: What Teachers Are Expecting from Parents

COVID Parent Expectations

As our nation faces another week of stay-at-home orders, mandated and self-quarantines, and growing fears for time lost from work or school, I recently had someone ask me, “What do you, as an educator, think about trying to keep school going at home?”

Well, I can’t speak for ALL educators, but here is what I know and believe.

First of all, we miss the kids. We miss the classroom. We miss being able to teach, interact, hug, listen to, and learn from our students.

The greatest hope we have for our students is that they are safe, secure, and still learning on some level.

While most parents don’t have degrees in classroom management or educational psychology, the majority understand what it means to be a kid. Maintaining awareness for their innocence and young minds needs to be in the forefront of our thoughts as we interact with them.

With regards to lesson plans, please just do your best. Try to provide opportunities for kids to make connections between what they normally would be learning in school and what they are getting at home. While there aren’t SmartBoards, extensive libraries, and gymnasiums in our homes, there are still plenty of ways to encourage our kids to keep learning. Some families don’t have computers or internet access. There are still ways to engage children in reading, math, science, and physical activity. Parents, allow yourselves to learn news ways to communicate positively with your children and let them know that change is hard, but we can make it easier together.

To those who say, “It’s not my job to teach. I’m not making my kids do homework,” teachers view all children as their own. When you refuse to put effort into helping your own child learn, you are refusing to help everyone. Please don’t take that from them or us. We all deserve to have knowledge and understanding as this pandemic impacts our lives. You are that child’s parent, and, therefore, you are their first teacher. Join us in the work we do to ensure bright futures open to continued growth and knowledge.

Finally, please remember teachers are people too. We have fears, anxiety, and questions that can’t be answered. We are doing our best to share as much information and as many opportunities as possible with your kids, while caring for/teaching/raising/coping with our own families. Please don’t let our efforts be something that is also lost during this time of crisis.

Again, I can’t speak for all teacher, but this is what I believe most would say. Be safe. Stay healthy. Read, write, experiment, exercise, love, and learn.

By: Melanie A. Peters

P.S. Parents, it’s okay to put yourself in detention if you need a time out, but don’t punish your kid if new Math is confusing. Teachers had to learn it too.

P.P.S. Parents, it’s also okay to give yourself an apple or a chocolate bar when you’ve done a good job of helping get through those workbook pages.

P.P.P.S. Teacher friends, thank you for stretching yourselves and adapting to these crazy conditions. You’ve all earned A’s in my book.

A Hellava Start – Wise Words Wednesday

Hellava start

“It’s a hellava start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” – Lucille Ball

Most of the time it’s easy to find things that bother or irritate us. Often it’s just as easy to find things that we want or wish for, but it’s a whole other challenge to find what makes us happy.

When I was 22, I ended my relationship with a longtime boyfriend. In fact, we were engaged, but it just wasn’t a situation that I felt could work. I wasn’t happy.

After ending a relationship that I had believed I wanted since the 4th grade, I was really lost. I mean, there was not a map, compass, GPS, or Uber who could have gotten me where I needed to be.

I went on a few first/last dates. There was one nice guy who I ran off with a massive meltdown after a way too late night at karaoke.

It took a blind date, two follow up dates, and meeting his Grandpa Joe and Grandma Dorothy before I began to believe happiness could be found with the man who is now my hubby.

Love is one arena that seems to give happiness a run for its money, but once we give love a chance, we’ve got a hellava lot better chance at finding happiness. Continue reading “A Hellava Start – Wise Words Wednesday”

“Is That Right?” – Never Leave Behind a Willingness to Understand

mountains nature arrow guide

Photo by Jens Johnsson on Pexels.com

Recently, we said good-bye to my husband’s Grandma Dorothy. I am proud to say that I had many opportunities to spend time with her and loved her very much. She will be greatly missed for her kind smile, beautiful quilts, and delicious monster cookies.

One of the things I admired most in Grandma Dorothy was her unwavering willingness to listen and learn about the lives of those for whom she cared. In any conversation, Grandma would always listen and then say, “Is that right?,” with a smile, smirk, or frown (She also wasn’t one to hide her feelings well).

She never let her ninety years of experience get in the way of understanding what was helping, hurtful, exciting, or enhancing to the lives of those around her. Grandma openly accepted that people are different and that the relationships we build are ones that deserve attention, nurturing, or closure because that’s how we grow.

Sitting on her couch the afternoon of Grandma’s passing, I couldn’t help but glance at the rocker that had been so frequently filled by her and ached to hear Grandma say those words, “Is that right?”

As children always do, mine provided great comfort, insight, distraction, and healing through the process of Grandma’s visitation and funeral. The night after her funeral, I said extra prayers with each kiddo in Grandma’s honor. As we wrapped up our devotions, my daughter said, “Mom, I heard that when you pray a Hail Mary, an Our Father, and a Glory Be someone from purgatory goes to heaven. Is that right?” Continue reading ““Is That Right?” – Never Leave Behind a Willingness to Understand”

Shallow Happiness

Shallow Happiness

That whole put-on-a-smile all day, every day thing is exhausting.

There are plenty of days when I feel like my smiles are used up before I even get out of bed.

Earlier this week, I channeled my inner Dolly Parton  when someone asked my how I can stay so positive when people can be such jerks sometimes.

All I could do was quote Dolly, “I’m not happy all the time, and I wouldn’t want to be because that would make me a shallow person. But I do try to find the good in everybody.”

I’m not gonna lie. This week was a doozy. We lost a good friend to an automobile accident, learned the illness of another friend had progressed for the worse, and that we will lose our sweet uncle very soon. Students gave pitiful excuses. My children couldn’t seem to get along at all. It was a doozy.

Before I had to channel Dolly’s words of wisdom, I really was in a funk. A coworker called me out on it and so I dropped the shallow happiness quote on them.

We can’t be happy all the time.

We don’t like everyone all the time.

It is darn near impossible to find the silver lining all the time, but it is always possible to turn things around by finding one good thing in ourselves or those surrounding us. Continue reading “Shallow Happiness”

Regret as Anger ?!?!

Regret as Anger

After a particularly difficult weekend of parenting, I confided in my friend Joy that I felt like my child’s irrational behavior seemed to be a reflection of a parenting fail on my part.

My child could not accept that they had to stick to their commitments. (Never mind the fact that they had cried, begged, swore on their grave that this was the ONE thing they were born to do and HAD to do it or their pitiful life was over.)

Now there was a new, “I’m gonna die if I don’t do this” thing and I was officially the “meanest, most unfair mom ever.” (Exact words of my child.)

The words didn’t bother me. The anger behind them did.

I wasn’t as worried about the fact that they thought I was being mean; it was the fact that my child was so quick to change passions in the blink of an eye.

Joy pointed out that maybe there was some regret there. My child now saw a new opportunity and regretted making the previous choice. My friend shared that her kids had demonstrated similar behavior and accused her of “forcing” them to do the very things she knew they loved. In her kind and wise way, Joy said, “I think sometimes they (the kids) have regrets and they use it as anger towards us, but it’s not okay for them to be angry with us for what they regret.”

WOW! Continue reading “Regret as Anger ?!?!”