The new year will be here in days. Well the new calendar year. I personally count the years of my life is school year calendars, so this year still has a ways to go. With this being said, I still reflect and try to look forward to the new year.
Looking forward is an easy process for me. Everything is unknown. I sort of like not knowing what will be.
This year has brought many happy changes. My hope is 2020 will be peaceful, positive, productive and phenomenal!
Goals for 2020
Improve my skills
Hone my voice
Goals for 2020
Create more resources
Improve a few
Goals for 2020
Keep going to class
Practice more often
Goals for 2020
Continue to connect with these ladies
Fly their flags
Goals for 2020
Making meetings a priority
Last but not least. 2019 has brought us even closer together. May we continue to be a happy little family.
Wherever we go, as long as we are together, life will always be an adventure!
Happy New Year to you!!!! May all your goals be fulfilled. Whoot…whoot….2020!!!
Last Christmas I was very sad…throwing myself the biggest holiday pity party.
Every year I look forward to baking and eating our family cut out cookies. I baked them with my mom, my husband and now with my mini. The smell of them baking in the oven kicks off Christmas for me.
Last Christmas I had no desire to bake. If I wasn’t making what I knew, wanted and expected-I was baking nothing. This was probably terrible for my people because they still deserved their happy holiday. None the less that was my mindset and I did not forget to invite myself to a spectacular party.
My hubs is really a rock solid human. He saw how down I was and paid a very big bill at a GF bakery, for some very acceptable cookies and a yule log. These treats were not our festive favorites, but he and my mini were holly, jolly and supportive. Thankfully they are equal opportunity cookie consumers.
Let me just add….they did have plenty of delicious, festive, gluten filled cookies and cakes, because they can and should, but not baked by my gluten free, miserable hands.
So, on to this year.
I did not want a repeat of last year. I try to fancy myself a person who learns from their past choices and decisions, so this year I was determined to find a way to make my beloved cookie safe and tasty.
I do not want a new recipe. I am sure there are many options out there…in fact I know there are, pinterest shows me so, but I wanted something familiar. I want my family recipe.
I found my saving grace. I found a GF safe flour that has a 1:1 conversion. No experimentation with ingredients. The front of the bag had the magic words! I was beyond pumped. I could use just like typical flour. Cue the angels singinng!!!
Cookie dough was made and seemed ok.
I baked….sort of holding my breath.
Cookies came out…cooled and then it was time to taste.
I was pleasantly surprised. They tasted very close. The texture was palatable. Gluten free happiness!
Time to frost.
This is what I love the most. We frost and sprinkle together!!
This year I accepted and with this positive attitude memories were made, family tradition continued and calories were not counted!
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I’m really making peace with being gluten free and with trial and error I have found a cake that has good texture. I am very thankful I have found this mix at Trader Joe’s.
It takes about an hour to bake. This is longer than a typical mix, but it is dense. It does not rise up very high, but moist and small is worth it.
I don’t really enjoy canned frosting, so I decided to look for a homemade option. I went to pinterest of course! There were endless choices, but I decided to use a basic butter cream and cream cheese hybrid concoction. I am terrible at following a recipe.
I am that person that tweaks and adds things. Sometimes it works in my favor and sometimes it is an apology.
Cereal for dinner is always a back up!
I read, in a few online recipes, bakers were adding dehydrated strawberries. I figured I would give it a try. I buzzed the strawberries and added them in…fingers crossed. The result was fabulous.
Oh…and yes I made it all. I used to love to bake. I find it relaxing. Going GF has limited me. I was very happy whipping this up. I was home with my mini me…she needed a sick day, the weather was snowy and I didn’t want something from a bakery-happy birthday to me!
Made a wish….
I have been trying to eat better and get my yoga on. That being said…. I wanted to slob out!!!
We went and got gluten free pizza and these loaded fries. Total perfection on a snowy week night. Lots of calories and zero dishes!!!
We went out again!!!
Since I have gone gluten free I LOVE wings. Like really love them….crave them. This was the perfect way to wrap my birthday week. It was salty, spicy and satisfying.
My gluten free journey continues. Blessed to have another year to keep learning and expanding my options.
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As a teacher I know that I am never expecting a gift, but I do love to receive something from my students…something that they put thought into. Some of my most treasured gifts have been made from paper, crayons, stickers and kindness. I think most teachers feel the same way.
I know as a parent I look at teacher gifts from a totally different perspective. I want to make sure I find something personal, budget friendly and useful. I also encourage my mini me to take an active role in the shopping process. I want my child’s teachers to know we see and value their hard work and commitment.
One thing I do in September is look around the teachers room during open house. My mini keeps her eyes and ears open too throughout the first few months. This way we can even make a gift card more personal. Knowing something as simple as a favorite color can be so helpful.
This leads me to the ideas.
So I know most people love a gift card, but I have a love/awkward feeling about them. They are quick, easy, and practical…so people love to give and get.
They are quick, easy and practical…so that’s why I don’t always love to give. I feel like it says I don’t know you or had no time to shop for you, so I picked up a gift card.
This is where, for a teacher gift, I have to calm down and just do it…most people love them. I try to add something cute to the gift card that is personal and I try to select a gift card that is not just Starbucks-unless the teacher is seen with a cup daily.
Here are some of my past selections:
Depending on a teachers situation sometimes they need things for the room that they can’t or shouldn’t pay for. Teachers spend a lot out of pocket to make their room a great place for their students. Picking up their favorite pens is the least I can do.
Dry Erase Markers
Electric Pencil Sharpener
Mugs and Water Bottles
Personalized cups and mugs
Themed cups and mugs
Inspirational messages on cups. mugs and water bottles
I think these are useful and can be refreshed. I personally enjoy a new water bottle or cup, especially because I forget about them(which means they get gross) or loose them in my travels.
Lotion and hand cream
Nail polish and cozy socks
I try to keep these unscented or neutral. Scent can be very personal and powerful. I choose neutral or classic colors as well.
One observation I have made over my many years of teaching is teachers love a treat, but not ones from a home kitchen. You may make the best fudge ever, but during cold and flu season most teachers will pass. We are looking forward to a happy and healthy holiday break, not one filled with chicken soup and tissues. So, I always purchase a yummy treat.
With all of these ideas my ultimate goal is to get something useful, personal and something that isn’t cluttering up a shelf or desk. No teacher needs a dozen Best Teacher mugs! And no teacher wants to feel guilty not using the multiple mugs.
Whatever you a purchasing this holiday season I hope you enjoy the process. If you can’t think of anything unique…get the gift card. I know I am taking the pressure off of myself this year.
And if you don’t have the budget for a gift consider:
A hand written note or card
A kind email
Have your child write or draw something
Have your child create something
A heartfelt “Merry Christmas” at pick up or drop off
I think the key is expressing appreciation. Who doesn’t like to feel respected and appreciated?!
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We get in our cars and Christmas music is on the radio, right after Halloween. We see the drive through beverages get sprinkled with peppermint. We start planning lessons with a holiday vibe.
All of these things can be lovely and delightfully festive, but if you are itinerant the holiday season, in school, can be a real bummer. I know not everyone feels this way, but I have seen a few comments on Facebook posts and I know I am not the only one out there feeling the itinerant holiday blues. Being on the go all day does not pair up with Christmas parties and Secret Santa.
Sometimes being itinerant is beyond great. We see a situation or work in situations that look stressful….are stressful and we get to leave when our time is up. If you are like me you still think about difficult students and situations after you leave, but I am not in it all day. I say a prayer for that teacher or team and move on to the next place in my busy day. This is a definite bonus to traveling.
Once the weather turns and the holidays start to happen I feel an internal shift. I do not love the cold, so that definitely adjusts my mood, but I think last year I really felt bummed out and left out of all the holiday spirit in school.
I see students during the fun holiday staff lunches
I am not in a place every day or at the right time to participate in fun group games or activities-like Secret Santa
I often miss the sweet holiday performances because my time is up and I am moving to my next location.
If you read my blog regularly you know there are some amazing places and people I have worked with. I have had opportunities to feel part of something and I think that when that special something isn’t happening, it can be tough to get through a time of year that personally can feel stressful or overwhelming, then head into work and I think for me it creates a little grey cloud over my head…no mistletoe to be found.
This year I am going to try to put some holiday pep in my step and not fall into a candy cane induced pity party.
Ugly sweaters….bring them on!!! Maybe you don’t go that far, but try holiday or Christmas:
Sweater or Sweatshirt
Looking festive can make you feel festive. Often these fun items are conversation starters. Students love it! This can be a simple way for you to blend into the holiday aesthetic.
Holiday Lesson Plans
Even though your classroom comes out of a bag like Mary Poppins and you probably are not decorating your work space, try to add that holiday magic to your lessons.
These are a few of my favorites.
Look online for some inspiration. I love to find ideas on Pinterest and resources on Teacher Pay Teachers.
I know there are so many more amazing holiday books, but I try to stay away from ones I see classroom teachers read. I want my students engaged and not bored with a story they just heard.
Maybe consider a peppermint mocha, hot cocoa or hot cider to lift your spirits as you are traveling all day. I will still be following one of my cardinal rules…”If I can’t drive though it, I don’t do it.”
Add a Christmas cookie to your lunch box. #selfcare
See if there is a fun holiday lunch or staff get together you can attend. If it is something you would enjoy- it is worth an ask.
No matter where you are, the weather, the driving conditions…I am wishing you a Merry and Bright December.
If you have any suggestions or tips for December holiday survival comment, email…reach out. I would love to hear from you!