Friday, November 25, 2011

So grateful for my Family

Friday, November 25, 2011

What I am Grateful for.

When I look at the way I was brought up, I am grateful for the things I learned from being in this family.

Everyone loves my mom. She is kind, gracious, beautiful, funny and wise. My mom had me at the age of 20, so I feel we grew up together. She is a great organizer and planner, I feel I have inherited those skills from her. I love being around my mom. I admire how she handles the triumphs and the tragedies of life. My mom gave me the skills I needed to seek my own truth and the pathway of my life. I am proud to be her daughter.

I know my dad gave me my love of theater and music. I grew up listening to Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, Robert Goulet and Broadway Musicals. My dad always suggested movies he thought I would love and he was always right. From my dad I inherited a bit of a competitive streak when it comes to playing games. I loved when he played Scrabble with mys sister and me. I secretly love it when I play chess at school and the students beat me! I remember arguing with my dad as a teenager, he taught me strategy and how to think before I present my case. My dad has inspired many teachers and students to become the best they can be. He inspired me to work with children and choose to teach. I am proud to be his daughter.

I am the oldest sibling. I have learned so much from being a part of this family, much of it from my sisters and brothers. From my sister Karen, I have learned that dreams do come true. She is successful and has 2 beautiful daughters who are the loves of her life. She works hard, is a terrific mom, and doesn't give up on what her goals are. I am proud of her and proud to be her sister.
From my sister Vicki, I have learned to count my blessings and enjoy every moment of life. Vicki has always been the life of the party and is so good about keeping in touch with family and friends. People trust her and tell her everything. She is a peacemaker. Vicki's eyes light up whenever she looks at our nieces and nephews who adore her. She is compassionate, funny, and lights up the world. I am proud of her and proud to be her sister.

My brother Ron has always been the sweetest and most caring person. He works hard and spends his "free" time with his family. He adores his children and is introducing them to the world with wonder and a positive outlook. Ron has taught me to appreciate those you love and to treat them well. He tirelessly pitches in whenever someone needs help. He has an altruistic side and can be selfless when called upon. I am so proud to be his sister and I am so proud of him.

From my brother Kevin, I have learned to be courageous. When we were younger, Kevin would call to order the pizza because his big sister was too shy. Kevin has had to make choices in his life that require true courage and the ability to be honest with yourself. He is, like our brother Ron, a great dad. He is patient, soft spoken, calm, and loving. He is devoted to his children and they are happy and thriving because of it. I am so proud of my brother Kevin and I am proud to be his sister.

I am a product of this family. What I know, I've learned from them. I am grateful for every moment of joy, every learning experience, and every struggle we went through. I know they are always in my corner and I will always be in theirs. It hasn't always been easy but I am who I am because of our shared experience.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Thanksgiving is an important holiday to talk about and study in class.  In our class we research the history of the holiday, make paper turkeys, write sentences and paragraphs about why we are grateful for the bounty we have in our lives.  This year, our 6-9 class focused on the “giving” of Thanksgiving.

Each month our school has a “Casual Day”.  Elementary and Secondary students do not have to wear the usual uniform.  This year we have implemented a program where each class gets to choose a cause or a charity and those who wish to dress “casually” donate to that cause.  When our class was asked to choose a cause for November, it was easy to make a choice.  We decided to collect food for All Faith’s Food Bank in our town. 

Our third year students formed committees and divided the types of food they expected to collect into different categories.  They decided on “Pasta, Soups, Meat and Fish, Fruits and Veggies, and Miscellaneous.”   The five third year students put together a flyer which went home to the families in our school.

We decided that we would collect food for one week.  Each morning students stood outside our classroom with their handmade signs during “Drop off” time.  The first day did not yield any items and the students were disappointed.  We pointed out that it was a good day for reminding everyone about our Food Drive and tomorrow things would surely pick up.

The next day the food started to come in.  The committees collected the cans, bags, and boxes of items that fit their categories.  They organized the items, made lists of what types and quantities of food they collected, they boxed the food up and by the end of the week we had collected 343 items!

There were discussions about which category some items would fall into.  Would barley go with the pasta group or miscellaneous?  Do we count a six pack of tuna as one item or as six?   Are tomatoes a fruit or a vegetable? Is juice a fruit or is it in the miscellaneous category?  Can we keep the box of chocolate chip cookies?

Students worked together cooperatively to answer these questions and box up the food.  On the Monday before Thanksgiving we loaded it onto the school bus and then traveled to the All Faith’s Food Bank to deliver our bounty.  We were greeted by the volunteers who worked at the food bank.  Jill, a registered dietician gave us a tour of the warehouse.

We found out that we collected 372 pounds of food.  One pound of food feeds a person for a day.  The students were able to get on the scale and we found out that they weighed 949 pounds!  We were able to help sort the food we brought to the food bank.  We checked the dates on the can and then put a line through the bar code.  We sorted the cans into the appropriate boxes.

Students walked up and down the aisles and learned what types of food were needed.  We walked into the “cold rooms.”  In the first room it was 44 degrees, that is where they keep fresh fruit and veggies.  Next we went into the dairy room which was about 32 degrees.  Finally we entered the meat room which was 11 degrees.  That was where they keep the turkeys and other types of meat they have collected.

The students had a great learning experience and walked away feeling proud that they were able to help other families and children in our community. 

Remember, Thanksgiving is a time for being grateful for your blessings and a time to give to help your community!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Just say "No!"

Saying "no" does not a bad parent make.  As a parent your responsibility is to raise a responsible, independent adult who has common sense and skills that will help them thrive.  Dealing with disappointment is a skill that actually needs to be taught.

Face it, none of us has gotten everything we have ever wanted.  From Barbie Dolls and Bicyles to college admissions to dating to job applications to rainy vacations, disappointment is a daily occurance.  What helps us get through life is how we deal with the inevitable.

When I look at the students I have had over the years, some have taken disappointment in stride, some have had tantrums when things don't go their way, some relentlessly persevere and pursue other avenues to get what they want.  There are as many reactions to disappointment as there are children.

So, as a parent, what can you do to help your child develop skills that will allow them to handle disappointment, regroup, and pursue other options?

Children like to be prepared for situations.  When you take a child shopping, have a conversation first.  We are going to the grocery store.  You and I will buy the things on our list. I will hand you each item and you can put it in the cart. I want you to know that today we will not buy anything "extra."  If you do forget and ask me for something special, please know that today the answer will be no.
*Then if the child does ask for something you can refer to the conversation you had prior to the shopping trip.  It is nice to give your child a specific task to do such as putting the items in the cart.  Children like to help.

Before playing a game, have a converstaion.  I would be happy play checkers ( or any game) with you.  You are one of my favorite people to play with.  Let's talk about what a good winner does.  If you win, tell the other players that it was fun to play with them and they did a good job.  If you don't win, tell the winner "Congratulations."  It is good to know how to win and how to lose.
* A child needs to practice being a good loser, I advise you not to let them win every game they play with you.  You should model being a good winner and a good loser.

Before a playdate, have a conversation.  Your friend is coming over to play.  He is our guest so he will get to choose the first game you play.  If you play nicely, you get to choose the next game.  You are a terrific friend and a terrific friend lets others choose first.
*Be close by to remind your child about courtesy when being with a friend.

Before birthday parties, have a conversation.  You are going to be in someone else's home.  You will be the representative of our family.  This is an important job.  Say please and thank you.  If you don't get your way, be calm and wait till you get home and tell me all about it.  Do not ask for "seconds" wait until you are offered seconds.
*The "seconds" thing is a point of politeness and should be practiced at home.  Be sure to ask your child how things went and if they are not enthusiastic ask if there was a disappointment and talk to them about how we don't always get everything we want but you are always loved and important.

When children are very young saying no happens frequently.  You may want to offer another activity or distraction so the child realizes there are other options when things don't go your way.

I have seen many parents give in to children who have wanted something they clearly were not ready for.  Face book accounts for 9 year olds, cars for 16 year olds, i phones for 7 year olds given out of love.  But what seems like love can just be indulgence.  Learn to say no but do it with a conversation.