A Healthy Hint of Green

My health took a turn for the worse three years ago when I developed Lyme disease. As a part of my healing process, I reevaluated all the chemicals that I used in our home and on my body.  Up until that point, I knew many the products I used had chemicals in them, but I just took it for granted that they were safe.  Experience is the best teacher, as they say!

Below are some tricks that I’ve learned to use to be a little more heathy while lessening the toxins on/in my body.

Healthy Aromas

Before Lyme, I loved having candles burning in our home. I also used scented dryer sheets and fragrant laundry detergents, lotions and soaps.  Sadly, all of these things are not very healthy for the immune system due to all the man-made fragrances and chemicals in these products.

IMG_1004I now use diffusers in both the bedroom and livingroom. You can create healthy and pleasing scents with just a few drops of essential oils of your choosing. Be sure to research them; don’t just purchase any oil on the market! (Check out my post Diffusing the Confusion About Essential Oils.)   Personally, I like lavender and geranium together for sleeping.  Clove and orange or lemon and eucalyptus are great in the living room.  And both these combinations are helpful in building up your immune system.

Interestingly enough, when I lit a popular commmerical brand of candle in my home, after being ill with Lyme for many months, I had quite a different reaction than my before-Lyme lifestyle. Before Lyme, I enjoyed the heavy candle scent.  Now, candle scents are overwhelming to me, and I can honestly say that I haven’t burned those candles, or any candle, since.  I prefer essential oils because they give you a clean, light smell without the heaviness you can experience with candles. And because oils are so concentrated, you only use a few drops at a time. The oils produce a long-lasting scent, but they can also can provide health benefits, like altering moods or boosting the immune system.

During the winter months,  I have found that diffusing oils in my home has cut down on illness in my family, too.  We haven’t been hit with a stomach bug in over two years, and I’m very confident that it has to do with using essential oils.  I typically diffuse lemon eucalpytus in the living room, which is known to be a great germ killer.  When I  experienced some congestion early in my Lyme illness, I found that shaking a few drops of this same oil while taking my shower helped to diffuse the oil into the air and also made it easier to breathe.

Healthy Showering

When I started this switch, I thought about all the products that I used in the shower: soap, shampoo, conditioner, and shaving cream.   Between those four products, I was easily putting hundreds of compounds on my skin and into my system daily.  A pretty scary thought when I couldn’t even pronounce most of the ingredients!

Now, I try to purchase shampoos and conditioners  that are better for my hair and system in general.  My hair dresser has a line of hair products that are more natural than commerical products you can find in the stores, and I also have learned how to make my own soaps, without the harsh chemicals and fragrances.  Before learning how to make soap, I did use Dr. Bronner’s Castile soaps and Shea Moisture products, which I found to be healthier in some respects.   But now that I make my own soap, I haven’t purchased bar soap for my family in three years!  I can use whatever essential oils that I like to scent my own soaps, and since I know what is in them, I know what is going on/in my skin. IMG_1005

Another decision I made was that my body washing product would double as my shaving product, thus cutting down on the amount of products I’d need to use.  And I found that my homemade soaps work just as well as a shaving cream because they lather well–and smell nice, too!

Heathly Cleaners

If you really are into organic cleaning, you can learn how to make your own cleaners with essential oils.  Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, 25th Anniversary Edition, has wonderful information about how to use essential oils for many uses, including home cleaners.IMG_1003

If you’re not into the Ma Kettle mode yet, you can research and purchase more ‘green’ products like Mrs. Meyer’s. I have used the hand soaps,  all-purpose cleaners and tile and tub cleaner from time to time.  I love the scents like Basil and Honeysuckle. The company also has seasonal scents like Peppermint and Orange and Clove.  It was because of the Orange and Clove hand soap that I then made my own mix of the same essential oils to diffuse in my home!

I purchased Woolsie’s dryer balls, and I won’t ever use a dryer sheet again.  The dryer balls work just as well, and because I do love smells, I just add a few drops of an essential oil on the dryer balls to get a healthy smell in my clothing.  There are unscented dryer sheets, but I perfer the dryer balls since they last a longer time than the sheets.

For washing my clothes, I use fragrance-free detergents. My clothes are clean without harsh chemicals or perfumes.

For the dishwasher, I am still mainstream with Finish dishwasher tabs.  I tried a ‘green’ brand–I can’t remember which one–but found that they didn’t seem to clean as well. I’m still on the hunt for a product that I like, and I’m sure I’ll find one.

Healthy Personal Products

Deodorants that didn’t burn or were effective were hard to find.  Tom’s brand would burn, and Kiss My Face brand didn’t seem to work at all for me.  But then I tried a brand called Crystal Essence.  I purchased both a roll-on and stick, and both seem to work well for me.IMG_1007 I also use Tom’s toothpastes and mouthwashes.

And while I’m not a big make-up person, I do like to make myself look a little more glamourous from time to time. But it’s been challenging to find ‘green’ make up that isn’t expensive.  I love Burt’s Bees lip products, and was happy to find recently that in addition to their lip balms, some stores also carry blush, eye shadow, and mascara.

Making the Healthy Switch

I knew it would be super expensive to just toss all my soaps, cleaners, lotions, deodorants, and make-up all at once.  I also didn’t know how my body would react to certain products, or how well they would actually perform.  So, I’d purchase one or two items to test at a time.

Three years later,  I’m happy that I made the changes that I did.  Much like my health returning, going green has been a gradual process, but I’m satisified that I have started to replace the more chemical-laden products that we use for ones that are a little more green.

Have you thought about going more green?  If you have, share your story.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

lymeheadIt has been almost three and a half years since I started my battle with Lyme disease. My  “diagnosis”(–many like myself, who have Lyme, don’t get a definitive “You’ve got Lyme” confirmation from a medical doctor–) gave a name to my symptoms, but not a solution. My health declined steadily within a few months, and then kept me out of work for six more. My visits to medical doctors, who did not give me the correct help that I needed, left me questioning everything I had come to expect as fact about myself, my health, and the medical community at large.

Since I took control of my health with lots of legwork and missteps along the way, I’ve come out much better than most with Lyme. It is still largely misdiagnosed and not treated properly, causing more undue damage to so many victims.  Over 300,000 people are diagnosed each year, and people can die from complications from this insideous disease. It affects all organs in the body, and can render people with debilitating neurological and other health issues. I was determined not to be a casualty from Lyme disease, and out of this horrible experience, many wonderful things have happened.

In three years, I have learned to manage my diet to control symptoms. I’ve found out about Nutritional Response Testing, which has helped me to manage symptoms and continue to improve my health in slow, steady steps.

I use essential oils both topically and in diffusers to help boost my immune system. I have salt lamps and air-purifying plants at home and at work.

I’ve learned to say ‘no’ to various social activities when I feel like I won’t have the stamina for it, and not feel guilty about it. I try to delegate chores more now at home, realizing that I only have time and energy for so much in a day, Lyme or not.

And I’ve learned to appreciate each day, and enjoy little things that I took for granted before Lyme: reading a book, making my daughter’s lunch, vacuuming!

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Sunny, Flowers and Tea, Lavender, Ginger Honey and Honeysuckle

But one of the truly remarkable things that have come out of this is my new hobby of making soap, thanks to a cousin of mine. At that time, in the midst of learning about my illness and my body’s response to it, I was trying to rid my body of any extra toxins that could possibly be in all the typical products that I used for daily routines of health and cleanliness.  This hobby, spurred on for health reasons, quickly sparked my creativity.  Over a year later from first learning how to make soap, I had made over 100 bars and was giving it away!  So many people I knew kept asking, “When are you going to sell? When are you going to sell?” One thing led to another, and then my home business started. I am happy that my soap is now being sold in two local stores, and I will be celebrating one year in business this August. When I look back on these past three years, it seems so amazing to me that I’ve been able to go from being completely bedridden and homebound, to back at work as a Kindergarten teacher, to the owner of a home business!  

My husband has been my biggest supporter from the start.  His background in art and graphics was a wonderful asset when we worked together to name my business, and he then artfully designed my beautiful logo.  He’s given me ideas of how to label the various soaps that I create, and even helped transform a room in our home into my soap office by building two shelving racks for curing my soaps.

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Here is one of the shelves built by my husband.

My family, friends, and coworkers continue to give me product ideas as well as leads of where to sell my product. And acquaintances and even complete strangers have purchased my product and continue to inspire and support me. 

In support of Lyme Disease month, I am also trying to raise money through the sales of some of my lime inspired soaps.  Any monies raised are going to the American Lyme Disease Foundation, located in Lyme, Connecticut.

I’ve also started a Lyme Disease support group in my hometown.  We met for the first time last week, and I’m hoping as more people become aware of the group, we can do some outreach in our town to help educate and inform residents.  I felt like I lost so much time when I was so sick three years ago, so I’m now trying to find little ways to support those who suffer.  Lyme is a very isolating and complex illness that requires persistence and passion, and a steady hand to keep it in check.

Lyme disease has truly changed my life, but without it, I know I never would have taken control of my health, or started a business, or a created a support group.

Who knows what is next for me?  I don’t know, but I do know that slow and steady wins the race.

And I’m determined to win at this race called  Lyme Disease.

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

More

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We have an obsession with “more” in this country.

More tests for kids equals higher achievement scores.

 More money means happier people.

 More technology means more time and connections with people.

More access to guns means safer communities.

Really?

How about more parenting and discipline classes for people expecting babies?

How about more time to play and socialize in schools?

How about more healthy food choices at fast food restaurants? And books for the ‘prize’ in those happy meals, instead of more of those chintzy toys.

How about more books and music and arts in the lives of our children?

How about more affordable college educations for our young adults?

How about more affordable loans for those wanting to start a second career, buy a home, or start a business?

How about more financial programs for students so they learn how to budget and save for the future?

How about more programs and laws that support equality for everyone—black, white, gay, straight, rich, or poor?

How about more social programs for families experiencing difficulties with mental illness, drugs, or addictions?

How about more programs to help the elderly stay in their homes and get the medical care they need when living on a fixed income?

How about jobs that people can depend on?

How about insurance programs that work for all incomes?

 

How about more for people and families in this country instead of less?

6 WAYS TO BE SMART, SAVY, AND SCHOOL-FRIENDLY IN THE DIGITAL AGE

 

20160606_111639_resizedOk, kids. Technology has made things easier to some degree in our lives, but not necessarily any smarter. Let’s go over a few things to keep in mind when you are granting ‘all access to you all the time’ on your Smartphone and social media accounts. And let’s see how you can be smarter for your kids and you at your child’s school for the next school year.

REMEMBER: SAFETY FIRST

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Oftentimes, Facebook pages light up with parent complaints about not feeling ‘welcome’ anymore at their child’s school when it comes to attending school functions. Translation: they are upset that they have to sign up to attend school events and just can’t “show up” to “help out” anymore.

When frustration takes over at these seemingly unfriendly school rules, we as parents need to remember that schools are first and foremost, places of learning for students.

Sadly, we live in a much more socially dangerous time, where adults and children have access to guns and other weapons. They cause unthinkable carnage at schools and other public places. Innocent people are killed, families are destroyed, and schools are left trying to make sense of it all while still continuing on valiantly to educate students in the pressing age of data driven instruction and assessment.

Many schools now have systems and procedures in place to account for people in and out of the building as a result of the violence that occurs daily across our country. Principals request all dismissal information to be sent in paper format and parents to call if a child is absent. Schools have set arrival and dismissal times and procedures for all students, whether they are driven in, walk, or ride the bus. And schools have much tighter security during the day, where doors are locked and teachers use swipe keys to enter and exit.

These are safety measures for your children and the adults in the building. The rules that are in place are not made to make you feel unwelcome. They are put in place to keep everyone safe.

So don’t become upset when your child’s school asks for parents to sign to attend a school function. It’s much smarter to realize that your child is in a building with hundreds of other children who also deserve to be just as safe as your child. And you would want those parents to follow the safety rules for the sake of your child’s safety, too.

ANNOUNCE YOUR VISIT

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Imagine this: You’ve got a big presentation to that you are working on for your job. You went in early to get a head start on the day. Then there’s a knock at your door and your boss is standing there. She needs to you work on some other task right away, even though she knows that you are in the middle of your presentation work. Not the best time, right?

You may think you are doing something loving for your child by a surprise visit to the school by dropping off the forgotten homework or instrument. These seemingly innocent little unannounced visits interrupt the secretary trying to manage the school, the teacher trying to work with students, and your child trying to learn.

A smarter way: pack and check the bag the night before with your child. And don’t worry. One day without the violin or the homework isn’t going to put an end to your child’s school career. Use the forgotten item as a way to remember to plan ahead instead of an excuse to just pop in at school.


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Parking can also be an issue at schools. As a teacher, I’ve almost been hit by parents countless times zooming in or out of a school parking lot. Imagine how you would feel if your child were hit by a parent. Or what if, in your haste, you hit another child? Parking procedures are in place to keep everyone safe, including your child, as well as the other students in the school.

There are universal parking rules, like marked handicapped spaces, that need to be adhered to whenever you public places, including schools. And then there are signs at schools that indicate where you can and cannot park because of bus drop offs and fire regulations. At my school, the whole front lot is for parents, and teachers need to park on the side and in the back lots. We work there, and we as teachers need to follow the parking rules just like the parents. Disregarding the signs or rules because you are the PTA President or because you are ‘just running in’ to the school puts others at risk and also shows that you feel you are above any rules. It also sends a message to your child that if my adult doesn’t follow the rules, I don’t need to, either. Everyone: parents, children and teachers, who are part of a school community, needs to follow the parking and safety rules for the benefit of all.

TURN OFF YOUR PHONE

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I love my phone. And I know we all have become so attached to all the aspects of a Smartphone: texting, taking pictures, tweeting, and instant access to online information-all.the.time. It’s a great device for quick communication, but with it comes responsibility of how much and when to use it.

When attending a function at your child’s school, please turn off your phone- especially on field trips, when you are in charge of students. No one likes to hear it ring, and if you really have to check it for messages, or text someone, or look on Facebook, then you’re not paying attention to the kids, and shouldn’t you be? And don’t post those photos that you took of your child performing with other kids. You know the ones…the ones you took while you were blocking the view of the parents behind you who were trying to watch their child.

Save the photo ops until you meet up with your child afterwards. You’ll be able to enjoy the performance from start to finish and get better close-ups later on.

 WHICH OF THESE TWO IS NOT LIKE THE OTHER?

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I had the opportunity to attend two spring school performances this past year. One was my daughter’s chorus and band concert and the other was my niece’s school play. I won’t pinpoint which event was which, but let’s see if you can spot the difference between the two events. At one event, all the audience members, parents and children, were seated quietly and respectfully, listening and clapping as appropriate. At the other, younger children were wandering all over the auditorium with their friends before and during the actual performance, switching seats and just generally being not good audience members like they are taught in school. A pair of parents sitting directly in front of me could hear their children making noise in balcony seats overhead and instead of retrieving their children and sitting with them, the adults just watched them from afar, gesturing to their kids to be quiet.

Can you tell which event was the more difficult of the two to enjoy? In both instances, the children and teachers had worked all year to perfect their skills, and yet only one audience really showed the proper respect for all their hard work. And sadly, it was the parents who were the ones who weren’t holding their children accountable for their concert behavior, not the teachers.

TEACHER TROUBLE?  TALK IN PERSON

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I really enjoy social media. I have gotten in touch with friends that I haven’t been in contact with in years, and family and friends who are out of state can keep in touch with my family and me. I use it as a way to have fun, and I try to be very cognizant and careful about what I post.

Once August hits and teacher assignments are determined, I often see posts from parents asking about whose kid has or had this teacher and whether the teacher was kind, nice, mean, etc. If you like or dislike a particular teacher, that is certainly is your right. But guess what? It also can remain your private business! It gives me a pit in my stomach, wondering what is being said about me. I am a teacher myself, and I know I work very hard to do the best job I can do for my students. I also know that I am human and have made errors in my career. I would just rather hear about it in person rather than read about it on social media.

Think of it this way: Would you like your kid to post on a social media site how mean, nice, or strict you are at home? Probably not. How about your boss posting on your work performance for everyone to formulate an opinion, regardless of whether or not all the facts are presented? Again, probably a negative.

Conversations about placement should be held in person with the teacher, not with your friends on Facebook.

That’s it for today. So, how do you measure up when it comes to social media and school relationships? Do you pass with flying colors or do you need to brush up on a few skills?

That’s ok.

That’s why we go to school.

Class dismissed.

 

EXTRA CREDIT

Track how often you check and use your phone for messages, texting, and checking your social media accounts for three days. Compare that to the amount of time you spend with your children and spouse.

Which takes up more of your time?

Which SHOULD take up more of your time?

 

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

DON’T CALL ME….I’LL CALL YOU

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I saw this post come across my Facebook feed this morning.

Apparently, Snap Chat has added a Maps feature. Now, anyone that is on your contact list can actually see where you are and what you are doing in real-time. The teenager was demonstrating the new feature, and Mom in the video was clearly upset and rightfully so.

This got me thinking:

How may of your kid’s friends has a phone?

How many use Snap chat?

How many are dating?

And what is to prevent any one of these kids from stalking or harassing your child via Snap Chat?

My ten-year old does not have a phone, although she tries to explain the two reasons why she should.

Her friends have one.

I can get in touch with her when she’s not home.

My response?

When you are old enough to pay for it each month, you can have one.

And if I don’t know where you are and can’t reach you, shame on me.

My job as a parent is to know whom you are with and where you are.

All.The.Time.

One parent I spoke with about this very issue said that her eight-year-old daughter’s friend has a phone. The parents are divorced, and the phone allows the Mom to contact her daughter when she’s with the father.

WHAT????

I have a message for the divorced Mom: if your ex won’t let you talk to the child on the phone, then there’s a bigger problem here. And putting your child in the middle of that mess by giving her a phone is only adding to the larger issue. Shame on you, Mom and Dad, for not addressing the communication issue between you two and instead laying that burden your child.

For some reason, since the cell phone revolution has taken place, more and more parents are treating their children like adults by giving them access and ownership to adult phones and content.

They are forgetting that these little people still need to grow up and develop rational thinking and reasoning without a phone to rewire their brains.

Didn’t Albert Einstein become a genius without technology in his hand?

What about Amelia Earhart?

Misty Copeland?

Annie Sullivan?

Martin Luther King?

Michelangelo?

Mother Theresa?

Beethoven?

Penny Patterson?

There are millions of examples of people who have somehow not only learned how to read, write, and create without a cell phone in their hand, but have also managed to transform the world the old-fashioned way: by thinking and creating in an active, passionate way.

By putting all-knowing technology in a child’s hands, his/her world has expanded a million times over, as well as those other kids’ worlds, too.

We’d never give our ten-year old child the keys to the car to go driving without the proper training and practice. She’s been in that car since birth, but I know the results will be deadly if I allowed her to drive it.

But parents think nothing of giving their kid a phone. If phones had capabilities of harming thier child immediately, parents would have more to consider before putting the newest Iphone in thier child’s hands.

I am sure we are going to hear more horror stories of kids being victimized by friends and strangers with all these apps that can track your kid’s every move.

And I’m sure the new school year will become much more difficult for teachers, counselors, coaches, students and parents.

So, what are you going to get your kid for his/her next birthday?

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL

Review of 25th Edition of The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

 

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Notice the post it notes…

When I was first dealing with my Lyme disease during the fall and winter of 2016, I was doing lots of research, both online, in books, and in person. With so many issues popping up daily, there was never enough information to help me find the right solution.

By spring, I had starting feeling better, after having several months of a new diet and numerous appointments with medical and holistic practitioners. I was ready to try something else to help me heal even more, and I had the opportunity to learn about essential oils at a workshop at a local organic nursery. I also spoke with a few representatives who sold them for various companies. While this newfound knowledge was very informative and helpful, my own experience with Lyme taught me that my body had become extremely sensitive to foods and compounds. I wasn’t really looking to sign up for programs and pay money for products I may or may not use or may be a source of more pain and complications for me.

In end, I decided that the best route for me to take would be to find a good book to help me learn which oils to use for what purposes. And that is when I discovered Valerie Worwood’s book The Complete Book of Aromatherapy, New World Library, 1991.

As a ‘rookie’ in the essential oil world, I loved this book. Not only was it easy to use, it was also very comprehensive in its approach of how to use the oils for what purposes. There were recipes for any type of use: cooking, cleaning, or germ fighting. In the back, there was a listing of reputable oil companies to purchase from, which for me, was great information. With my own immune system so compromised at the time, and so many companies were jumping on the EO bandwagon, this was very helpful information for me. Interestingly enough, she does list the two major essential oil companies, Young Living, and doTerra, in her first book. But due to my own knowledge of the bad blood between the two businesses, I personally boycotted those two and purchased other recommended oils at local stores in my area.

The 25th anniversary edition has recently been published, (2016) and I was fortunate enough to receive a copy from the publisher. And much like the first volume, this one also is a great edition to anyone’s library.

Ms. Worwood’s does a deeper exploration of the history of essential oils in this volume; and for me, this is a great asset to the book.   My epiphany about the health value in using essential oils came when reading this section. Our ‘advanced’ technological and medical age has overshadowed the fact that these oils have been used for thousands of years by various cultures across the globe. My own health issues combined with this knowledge about essential oils really indicated to me that the medical community needs to takes notice of ways to help people heal from aliments without the use of synthetic or manmade compounds. Imagine if more doctors used more natural ways to healing the body!  They may be out of a business, but we’d be a healthier community, for sure!

The 25th edition has great reference charts for oils as well—a dilution chart, conversion charts, a quick reference chart about oils, and also more detailed profiles on essential oils which grace the pages of this book from beginning to end.

What I love about the new book is that there is notably more information for all types of ailments at any age, from birth all the way to what she gently describes as the ‘maturing’ years.   I have family members dealing with stress, fatigue and other more serious health issues. Ms. Wormwood details explicitly how oils can be used in any number of situations. While she does specifically state that this book is not intended to heal or substitute for medical advice, I do find that as a Lyme disease warrior, there is something in here for everyone. Whether you are interested in more ‘green cleaning’, ways to use essential oils in cooking, or just want to learn something new about a very old and everlasting health practice, this is an informative and easy to reference book to have on hand.

As someone who is now at the point in my learning to start to experiment more with essential oils to improve my health further, I am happy that this book is gracing my coffee table. ( I reference it quite often—it hasn’t made it to the bookshelf yet!)

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL

5 Great Gifts For Teachers

My husband recently purchased an espresso maker, which prompted the need to clean out a kitchen cabinet so he could have his espresso cups easily available. This led to the discovery of many, many coffee mugs that sit in our cabinet and are never used, some of which I received as teacher gifts.

With the holidays approaching, many parents like to give teacher gifts, but I know as a parent, it gets tiresome each year trying to think of new ideas outside of the mug or candle.  Here are 5 ideas that may spark your gift giving nature in a different direction this year.

Read To Grow

When I had my daughter ten years ago, this organization had volunteers come around to all the new moms with a book to keep to encourage literacy.  Two years ago, one of my Kinder scholar’s parents made a donation to Read To Grow in my name.  It was such a thoughtful gift, and one that stood out from all the mugs of candy that I’ve received over the years.

Check in your area to see if your local hospital has an organization like Read to Grow.  Or, follow the link below and make a donation anyway!  It is sure to bring a smile to your child’s teacher’s face.

http://readtogrow.org

Donation to a Charity in the Teacher’s Name

Along the lines of Read to Grow, we all know someone, whether it is an adult or child, fighting a health battle.  Instead of purchasing a gift that may not be meaningful, use that money towards a donation to a particular charity. Again, it is a thoughtful gift that will have lasting benefits.

If donations aren’t your thing, here are a few more tangible gift ideas that your child’s teacher will love.

Monogrammed Note Paper and Fancy Pen

Teachers write A LOT of notes!  I loved it when I received paper and note cards with my name on it one year.  Vistaprint allows you to customize to include the school address and phone number as well.

http://www.vistaprint.com/

Gift Cards to Bookstores, Craft Stores, or Office Supply Stores

Many teachers supplement their classroom supplies with books, glue sticks, and colored pencils that they purchase out-of-pocket.  Even just a few $5.00 gift cards add up and teachers definitely appreciate not having to dig into their own wallets to restock classroom supplies after the holidays.

School Supply Basket

Teachers LOVE school supplies!  Create a basket with pencils, erasers, colored pencils, markers, post it notes, seasonal stickers, glue sticks, and other items that you think your teacher could use in the classroom. Even hand soap and tissues in the basket are much-needed and appreciated items that your kids use daily in the classroom.  Better yet: get in touch with the Room Parent to coordinate a basket like this with one donation from each student!  Every one can afford one small item and your teacher will appreciate the thoughtfulness behind this bountiful, useful gift.

Happy Holidays!

Yours in Lyme Holiday Adventures,

TWL

 

 

Friday Love Notes

 

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I went back to work the August after an unexpected medical leave in January 2016.

It’s been good to be back, even with the challenges of a larger group of students with varying levels of specific needs.

One of the things I love about teaching Kindergarten is that I can literally shape how a child views anything–even the most mundane task–just by my reaction or how I present it to them.  Work they need to do becomes “a project” or “a puzzle”. Assessments or small group work  becomes “working with Mrs. T” time –-and everyone LOVES one on one time with the teacher! Even a little post-it lunch box note from Mom turns into a glorious love note. The kids BEAM when I gush, “OH LOOK!!!! Mommy wrote you a LOVE NOTE!!” We read it together and the child toddles off with a smile on his or her face, so happy they got a love note from home.

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Sometimes, the children bring in pictures for me—beautiful Kindergarten drawings of us together, sometimes with a drawing of my faithful puppet Red Word Fred intermingled with the hearts and shapes and colors. This year, I’ve had a few of my scholars  say, “I made you a love note,” handing their treasure over to me when we collect the mail at the start of the day. I gush and preen over each note, thanking the child and putting it up on my bulletin board behind my table. My bulletin board is already filled with these notes, and I decided it was time to give back the love to my students.

This past Friday, I sent each of them home with a love note from me. Since we do mail in the morning, I had to remind them they couldn’t open it up now, or on the bus, or at the YMCA program after school. They had to wait until they got home to share it with their families.

Their reactions were priceless as they were handed folded notes. Some said thank you, some sat there in awe, looking at their name and heart drawn on the front, reminding me of Charlie Bucket when he found the Golden Ticket, and others were literally just beaming with joy and smiles. I had enclosed both a note and a dot-to-dot page. I’m not sure what will transpire as far as an extra little goodie inside each week—I haven’t planned that far ahead– but my goal is to give them each a love note every Friday morning to read at home.fullsizerender

I hope the love gets passed around this year between home and school!

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Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

 

Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics

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I officially went back to work on Thursday, August 25, 2016.

It was my first day of school since leaving on January 15, 2016.

And it was great.

It was like I never even left, outside of all the hugs and well wishes and “So glad to see your smiling face!” greetings. Even sweeter was a post it note from my new principal that he left in my classroom the night before, saying how welcoming everything looked and how happy he’s glad I’m able to return.

Prior to our “official” start date, I participated in the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics.  Usually, it can be a five-day or longer event .  This year, due to scheduling issues, it was a 3 day affair with multiple-tiered activities.

I engaged in all sorts of games that had been previously set up by the individuals in my room, both adults and children,  while I was out on sick leave. And let me tell you, they did a wonderful job of challenging me! I tried my best to complete each game to the best of my ability. Some of them were more challenging than others, but all in all, I think I represented my Kindergarten colleagues quite well!

What’s In The Cabinet?” was great fun as I discovered all sorts of materials and paperwork out-of-place. Some cabinets I just opened and then quickly shut, while others I cleaned and organized without much fanfare. This multi-tiered event didn’t put me in the running for the gold or even bronze medal,  but my efforts were rewarded with several empty cabinets. I still have several that need to be tackled, but that is for another day.20160830_074637_resized

Container Crash” was not an event I wanted to participate in due to the time constraints I was under,  but it was necessary to complete.  For about an hour, I sorted through the 16 years worth of containers that I have–baskets, boxes, and lids of all sorts of sizes and colors. Some matched, while others remained lonely.  I managed to give away a few of them to some of my co-workers, but I still have a huge store of containers stacked in boxes over the cubbies.  If you need any containers or lids, either matching ones or replacement parts, let me know. I’ll give them to you for FREE! (That is certainly worth a silver medal, right?)

20160830_074800_resizedBook Jam I” was a difficult event.  My trade books were not in any particular order, and I was unable to properly organize them to my satisfaction in the allotted time.   I did ok with the “Book Jam II“, sorting Reading Workshop books into the correct bins and finding my personal collection of board books that I like to use to start out the year with. But the BEST part of “Book Jam II” was when I masterfully placed my outward-facing bookshelves so I actually have TWO book corners this year for my little Kindergarten scholars! I think that event was purposefully scheduled to try to trick me into getting rid of Kindergarten furniture. I get a double gold medal for that one!20160830_074840_resized

Where Are The Spacemen?”  is still alluding me. During writing, we use these adorable spacemen clothespins created by Really Good Stuff for teaching about putting spaces between words.  I can’t find any of them!  They may have gone into Mr. Pail at the end of the year, or they may still be playing “What’s In The Cabinet?” Another level to this game is “Where Is The Smartboard Pen?” I had two pens, and one is missing.  Clearly, no medal for  me for this event.

At the start of “Kindergarten Kitchen Nightmare“, pocket books were filled with toy food, little scratch pads had one scribble on a page, dishes were mixed in with clothing, and the babies had bed head and were all naked.  I had to get everything back in its correct, loving place. By the time I was done, the table was set with a tablecloth and napkins I made over the summer, the babies were all clothed and in bed with little handmade blankets, and the food and dishes were put away in the correct spots.  Another gold medal for me! Sorry, no picture proof of this, but I can honestly say, the kitchen looked wonderful by the time I was done!

Sharpen The 1,000 Pencils” was another non-medal event, sadly.  My TWO electric pencil sharpeners are busted, so I’ll be purchasing one over the weekend. Guess I’ll be participating in that one on Monday morning!

And “What Did I Order?” is a game also still  in progress. I purchased glue sticks prior to the start of the Kindergarten Classroom Summer Olympics while back to school shopping. Lo and behold on Friday, I received two boxes of glue sticks that  I guess I ordered since my name was on them! Ah well…better extra glue than no glue!

Class List Confusion”  is always a challenging event for even the most seasoned teacher.  A new student was added to my class list and I wasn’t aware of this change when the children visited on Thursday, the 25th.  I had to make her crayon cup with her instead of it already set for her at her seat.  But on Friday, I made sure to make the labels for seat and cubby, so she will be all set for the first day of school the following week.

Paperwork Paparazzi” started out as a challenge, but ended up being a silver medal event for me.  Another side-event of “What’s in the Cabinet?”, I found student work and assessments from last year in two separate locations that needed to be sorted, organized, and distributed to the first grade teachers.  I also located behavior charts for students, parent information, and other miscellaneous paperwork that just didn’t find its way into Mr. Pail at the end of the school year last year.  About an hour and half later, all the pertinent paperwork was correctly organized and given to the proper people.

 

Bulletin Board Brilliance” was a gold medal winner for me, for sure!  Not only was the bulletin board I made adorable, it is highly effective in terms of student work placement. I made little cupcakes from bulletin boarders and tissue paper. The flame above lists my scholars’ birthdays. Underneath each one, there is a clothes pin hanging by a tack. Putting up and taking down student work is a snap!  An added bonus: I’ll be putting their photos underneath by the 2nd week of school, so everyone who visits will quickly know which happy little cupcake belongs to which scholar.14054047_10207200523746791_8415621747711157217_n

The best game, though was “Toss It!” I KNOW I won the gold medal on this game!  I had THE biggest pile of boxes, trash, a rug, broken containers, and other unusable items stacked up in three towers of trash. Too bad I didn’t take a picture of my award-winning dump pile! (You can see a bit of the pile creeping out of the hallway in this photo.)

All in all, I think I fared pretty well in this year’s Olympics.

Now, let the learning games begin!

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

TWL

 

Three Ways to Help Your Custodian

 

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Have you ever tried to wash and wax your kitchen floor in 90-degree heat? Most logically-thinking people would say, “Of course not! The floor will never dry!” Most people wait for cooler temperatures to wash and wax floors, since high temperatures directly impact how easily and quickly the task can be done.

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And yet, that’s what our faithful custodians in my school must do every summer. The teachers pack up as much of their classroom materials as possible in June, storing things in cabinets, closets and cubbies. The custodians then remove all the furniture and any supplies and materials that didn’t fit in the classroom storage areas to the hallway. The floors are then washed and waxed, then the room is reassembled according to a map left by the teacher. Once all the rooms are done in the wing, then the hallways are done. It’s an exhausting, heat-infused, time consuming job. One wing in our building has at minimum 10 rooms. Multiply that by 4 wings…it’s a lot of work.

This year, we had both summer school and a preschool program running in our building, which impacted when the custodians could do their yearly summer routine. Since our summer school and pre-k programs weren’t completed until August 12th, it left only two and a half weeks for the custodians to get their work done, as our new earlier start date this year is August 29th. The classrooms in the wing that was slated for summer school were washed and waxed prior to summer school starting, but that still left the hallway to be done as well many classrooms left untouched until the Pre-k program let out.imgres-4

When I went in on the one day in August that the school was open to start working in my classroom, (Yes, teachers DO work in their classrooms over the summer to get ready for their new scholars!) the three custodians were busy all over the building. One was waxing the upper floor in my hallway, and the other two were in another section of the building, unloading classrooms and beginning to wash and wax those floors. It’s a thankless job made more stressful by the fact that school is set to open in two weeks.

This madness got me thinking of a few solutions to make their job a little more bearable in 90-degree temperatures with no air conditioning and possibly make the summer cleaning schedule a little more productive.

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  1. Start school after Labor Day if summer school and other programs must run through mid-August in school buildings. The extra few weeks will give the custodians ample time to do their work without having the pressure of school starting at the end of August.
  1. Hold summer school in a different town building, like a Recreation Department or Community Center, freeing up the school buildings for custodians to use the months of June through August to work and get the schools ready for another school year.
  1. Set up a schedule for all custodians to rotate through all the schools over the summer, helping to move all the furniture and clean the classrooms and hallways in each building, so there are more people to assist at each school and get the buildings ready sooner. A team of three custodians in each wing for a week could get more done than merely 3 per building. Many hands make light work, right? 

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I intend to send an email to our Superintendent about this issue once school starts. My hope is that those who make the school calendar for next year take into account the hard work of the custodians over the summer months, especially those who have to work around summer school and other educational programs. Without them and their efforts, we wouldn’t have the sparkling windows, doors, and floors that greet the children and staff every year.

What type of job do you have? Can you just leave your office at the end of the year, or do you have to pack up and set up each work year?

 

Yours in Lyme Adventures,

 

TWL