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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Incoming mail 11/12


    Finally, a great mail day. I have 2 things that are going out in the mail:
1. letter to my latest Chemo Angel
2. This card of the Rebecca Nurse Memorial, which is about 2 miles from my house. This card is headed to Australia

    When I got home from school, preparing to finish my 408 grades that were due today, I headed to my mailbox expecting a gift I had bought for one of my Chemo Buddies. Not there. (Yet- it came later today). Instead I found these 2 great cards. This one is from California:
    Then I got this one from Germany:
    Here is the best part about this card. Here is my address on the card:
Somehow this still got from Germany to me in 8 days! One of my friends at the post office once laughed at me when I mailed something to the Ukraine and it had come back in the mail to me even though there was no return address. He told me I'm the only one around here who gets "weird, exotic foreign mail" and explained that anything that fits in that category but is unexplained will most likely end up at my house. Then he added that I'm also probably on a "no fly" list somewhere because of all the weird things that  people mail to me.. lol.

     I got the package for my ChemoBuddy a little later. I got him this book, which I just read a few weeks ago. The author, Levi Stack, sent me a copy of the e-book (which may be free on Amazon right now), and then a copy of the next book in the series too. He seems like a really nice guy and I enjoyed the books. So, I figured I'd buy a copy of the 1st book and send it to my friend.
    Imagine my surprise when I walked into our hallway to see this waiting for me:
Ooh.. mysterious. Once I saw the return address I was super excited. Yes, I'm a nerd. It's from Stamps Teach. Check out their website.  (Sarah, I think this would be great for your classroom!)  I got this to use at home with my kids but I will definitely pass on the information to the teachers my kids have.  Look at all the interesting things inside!
Educational activities:

 Commemorative 1st day issues
 Magnifying sheet

 Stamp albums
 Coloring books
 More resources
 More Envelopes

 More educator's guides
 Letter, review cards, etc
 Bag of stamps with this hilarious note on it. Good to know if you're using in a classroom
 Stamps! They are so interesting. Just glancing through I saw some from: US, Canada, Chad, Trinidad and Tobago, Iraq, Uganda, Ireland, Netherlands, France, Poland, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, etc. There are many African countries that I have never seen stamps from. I can't wait to explore these more.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


    Today I read a blog post by Bill Hybels, who is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Church. Lately I have been feeling very "cluttered."  I used that word to Matt today. I said that my head felt so cluttered that I felt like I was at a bit of a standstill. I do have a few deadlines looming and, as always, a running to do list but nothing horribly stressful. I read this quote:

"Simplified living is about more than doing less. It’s about being who God called us to be, with a wholehearted, single-minded focus. It’s walking away from innumerable lesser opportunities in favor of the few to which we’ve been called and for which we’ve been created. It’s a lifestyle that allows us, when our heads hit the pillow at night, to reflect with gratitude that our day was well invested and the varied responsibilities of our lives are in order.
If we don’t change how we live, our overcomplicated world will begin to feel frighteningly normal. We will become accustomed to life at a frantic pace, no longer able to discriminate between the important and the unessential. And that’s the danger: When we fritter away our one and only life doing things that don’t really matter, we sacrifice the things that do matter. Through more misses than hits, I have experienced the high cost of allowing my life to get out of control. My desire is to spare you some of the pain of learning these lessons the hard way.
In my experience, a handful of key practices are vital to keeping my soul clutter-free. These practices help me overcome the barriers that keep me from living the life “to the full” that Jesus promises in John 10:10. But there are no shortcuts to simplified living. Untangling yourself from the overscheduled, overwhelming web of your current life is not for the faint of heart. It’s honest, rigorous work. Action is required. That’s why you need to answer those nagging questions about what keeps you in bondage to such frenetic, cluttered patterns; and that’s why you need some hands-on practices for eradicating clutter from your soul and moving toward a simplified life. Don’t let an intellectual nod to the concept of simplified living inoculate you against making actual changes in your life. Rather, apply real solutions with courage and grit." (from Willow Creek's blog
      I read it and thought  "Yes, that's kind of what I've been feeling lately."  Then I realized that this quote was an excerpt from a book- a book that is sitting on my "to read" shelf. Has anyone read it yet? If so, what were your thoughts?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Big Hero 6

    Last Wednesday I had the opportunity to see an advance showing of Big Hero 6 with Matt and the kids. We saw it in 3D, which was cool.  Big Hero 6 is about a 14 year old boy genius named Hiro Hamada. After graduating high school at the age of 13, Hiro decides he wants to spend his life profiting from battling his homemade robots. His brother, Tadeshi, feels that he could be doing so much more with his talent so he brings Hiro to "Nerd School" where he is introduced to Tadeshi's friends as well as the high tech inventions they are all working on. Baymax, the fluffy, white, balloon-like robot, is Tadeshi's project, a healthcare robot that inflates and will not stop serving you until you inform him that you are satisfied with your care.  Hiro decides that he wants to attend school here but is worried that he won't get in because of his age.
    In order to impress the head of the department, Hiro invents "Microbots," which have many uses and can be controlled through a neurotransmitter.  Unfortunately, after the unveiling of these microbots, tragedy strikes and Hiro finds himself heart-broken and without his microbots. He withdraws and seemingly gives up on his new plans.
    Without giving too much up about the plot, Baymax befriends Hiro and some of his new friends from "Nerd School" join together to investigate the incident that caused Hiro's withdrawal. Big Hero 6 was a story of healing, forgiveness, love, and friendship. I thought it had many good messages and it was full of laughs. I would recommend it to almost anyone. In fact, I might fo to see it again in the theaters.  (*Spoiler* It does have the whole Disney- let's have a big tragedy and go back to being happy again aspect, which could obviously lead to questions or discussion from younger children but if you've seen other Disney movies, you've probably had that conversation already.. Message me if you want specific details)

 Timmy's (9) review:
"I would recommend Big Hero 6 to people who may have had some loss. I liked all of it. There was nothing wrong with it. I really liked it. I loved Baymax. He was so cute. He's like a big, warm marshmallow.  The friends of Hiro are very kind and they really care about him."

David's (6) Review:
"I liked it! My favorite character is Baymax because he's funny. The cool part was where the little bots were chasing Hiro because it was in 3D."


Friday, November 7, 2014

Outgoing November mail and random musings

Outgoing mail:

So far my mailbox has been very sad in November. As I read once, send good mail to get good mail. I decided to get ahead in my Postcrossing. Check this out! Outgoing to Sweden, Finland, Italy, China, Russia, Germany, Indonesia, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Singapore, Belarus, Ukraine and the US.  
  In addition to the Postcrossing cards, there is 1 to a student who has been out sick all week and 1 to a new friend who I have convinced to try Postcrossing! I also have a cards for one Chemo Buddy and an intro letter to another Chemo Buddy as well as a card for his mom. He's 16. I'm actually really excited to be paired with him. Lastly, I'm mailing Missy the book she won in my giveaway. 
    Tomorrow morning I'm going to set up a mail log, kind of like this.  Ashley, I'm still working on your letter. I haven't forgotten you. I think this will greatly help me in the management of papers that come in and our of my house. 

Random musings this week:

1) I while back I misplaced my journal. I don't keep a diary but I do a little work with my Bible reading and devotions in there. I find that I get off track without having it. I need to find it. I won't start a new one because I'm OCD about things like that. 
2) I also realized that I am not myself when I'm not penpalling. Apparently it is very therapeutic to me. :) I really miss feeling like I know what is going on with people. I am friends with many of my pals on Facebook but, truthfully, letter writing is a lot less shallow than reading something quick on Facebook- or writing knowing that every acquaintance you have will also be reading it. 
3) I am lucky to have my students. I ended my day with 15 8th grade boys today who are just truly good kids. There are a few of them that have given me a few gray hairs over the past few years but generally they are very gentlemanly towards me. I have also had some really great conversations with a few 8th grade girls this week. The younger students I have don't know me as well but their enthusiasm when they see me every day makes me smile.  Another student's family (She and her brother sing for me) got my family advance tickets to go see Big Hero 6. How awesome is it that they thought enough about me to consider giving my whole family a night out? I'm really blessed.
4) We had a lockdown drill at school today. I hate that kids in this generation (and teachers) have to get used to things like this and have to actually worry about the issues they do.
5) This week started off really badly. It reminded me about the importance of letting people know how much you care about them. We only get one chance in life. Sometimes the things that you don't say to someone or decide to wait to say might be the words that they have REALLY needed to hear- even if it's nothing important (to you).  Never pass up the opportunity to be the one who spreads kindness.
6) Do yourself a favor and read this post by Hannah Brencher. *Hugs*


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Hello November!

     The start of November means the end of the 31 Days series and me trying to decide what to write about again :)  I thought today that I would just take a few minutes to catch up.

     Last night we "celebrated" Halloween. When I was growing up, my town had no trick or treating. I'm not sure of the reason the town didn't have trick or treating. Every year our school put on a Halloween party called Operation Goblin. It was like a school dance with costumes and candy. I was never really into Halloween, but as an adult I enjoy getting out in my town, meeting new people and trick or treating with the boys. I also enjoy seeing my students have a little fun and dress up.  This year Timmy was Harry Potter and David was a ninja. If you can't tell, Timmy's hair is colored black. I rather like it. He actually could pass as my son now. :)
     This year we invited Timmy's new friend from England to come with us. I have become friends with his friend's mom and I really enjoy spending time with the whole family. We also stopped by a former colleague's house, which is an annual tradition for us. It was a beautiful autumn night and we had a lot of fun.

      The beginning of last week our 5th graders had a field trip, which gave me an extra prep period. I had wonderful intentions for this time, but when it came I literally found myself sitting in front of the computer, completely zoning out. A former student who now subs at the school came by to say hello and scared me half to death when he came in.  At this moment, I realized I was really stressed out and that my head was stuffed full of to do lists, ideas, reminders, and emotions. I saw that I was really overwhelmed and that I was unable to focus properly. This doesn't happen to me often, but when it does it's pretty serious.  So, on Wednesday, I stayed after school to correct 45 projects that had come in the day before, clean a little of my classroom and organize some papers that had been hanging around for way too long. You really have no idea how much havoc 200 students randomly touching things in a classroom over the course of 1 day can do. I didn't get it immaculate, but I got it clean enough to not be distracting to me.
      It is a cold, damp, rainy day in Massachusetts today. The sun is not out. It is starting to feel a bit raw. I decided to do some more decluttering at home. Do you have a room in your house (apartment in our case) that becomes the panic dumping room when you need to clean the rest of the house quickly? Yeah, well, unfortunately that room is our bedroom. It has been for a long time. I would post a picture if I was REALLY brave (and not afraid of being reported to Hoarders.) We have too much stuff. Sometimes it is obvious that we abundantly blessed and other times it is a reminder that we are not as responsible with money as we should be. Again, this room is a huge work in progress but I feel good about the work I did today. Perhaps my November project will be to try to turn this room into a sanctuary rather than stressor. In order to get this done I have to 1) remind myself that it didn't become a mess overnight, 2) part with materials/resources/stuff that at one point I felt I really needed and 3) remind myself that many times my outside clutter turns into emotional clutter for me. Any of my friends, feel free to ask me how this project is going throughout the month so I stay accountable.

Goodreads giveaways
    Did you know that Goodreads does giveaways?  I enter them a lot and have won quite a few books. I love this because it has given me a chance to try some new genres of literature and to have been exposed to some new authors. In addition to this, I have actually chatted with a few of the authors online. Most recently, there were a few books I tried to win, but didn't. A few authors contacted me and offered to give me a copy of their e-book instead if I was interested. I thought it was really generous. (The 4 authors that have done this are Levi Stack, Grady Miller, Holly Michael, and Bill Harrison.) I'm going to start the Card Game Series by Mr. Stack tonight.

     If you are on Goodreads, looking for the giveaways, you can find them by looking at the pull down menu next to "explore." Good luck and I hope you win some fun stuff! While we're on the subjects of books, what are you currently reading?