Gratitude Journal

January 2020

Day 1: I am thankful for times to reflect. I know it is cliche, and I hate being another one of those blogs that is doing the same thing. But it is refreshing to have a natural break in the cycle of life to reevaluate, reflect, and make some changes. I try to do this at the beginning of the school year as well since that is a natural break for me. I’m an internalizer, and it is nice when what I do on a “normal” day is celebrated. I’m excited to walk the kids through a reflection and to help them pick their word for the year.

Day 2: I am thankful for Mary’s 91 Day Declutter Challenge. This will be the fourth year I attempt to complete it, but this year the kids are (semi) on-board with helping me out. The goal of the challenge is to put things where they belong, throw out the trash, and re-home the things that are no longer serving their purpose here. Basically minimizing the stuff. At the conference I was at in December, the speaker talked about the need to care for what we already have as we ask for a bigger vision for ourselves. This struck home — we have too much to take care of, and I’m not being a good steward of what I have been blessed with. I’ve thought this several times before, but hearing someone else say it to me . . . The thing I really like about this challenge is that Mary breaks it down into small steps. For example, day 1 is the top shelves and cupboards in the laundry room. That’s not too much, it’s not overwhelming, and I have a specific stopping point. The kids like that most of the items will only take up to 20 minutes at the most! The other things I really like is I can accomplish this while still working full time. We can do this!

Day 3: I am thankful for the mornings where I read my Bible, have a cup of coffee, and listen to worship music without having to be rushed. The kids are still sleeping, the dog has stopped asking to go out and come in every two minutes, and I get to spend some down time being still. I do have a routine of reading and praying each morning (I once heard it called a time-tithe, and I like that idea), but it is super nice when I get to do it without having to keep one eye on the clock so we get out he door on time for school. I only get these opportunities over breaks. I feel the sting of being tied to the clock a lot the first few weeks back to work. I am thankful that teaching gives me the chance to have breaks so I can spend the time throughout the year.

Day 4: I am thankful for clean spaces. For my birthday, I got a coupon to have my van detailed. I clean it out, but we haven’t given it a GOOD cleaning since I got it four years ago. We pulled out the car seats, and it was beyond frightening! Before we took it into the shop, we pulled out bags of garbage and toys that had to be put away in the house, and vacuumed the bigger part of the mess out. I got it back several hours later (I’m praying it was because there were other vehicles ahead of me, and not because it was such a mess) all clean and looking new! The kids didn’t believe me that it was our van! I like the feeling of space that makes it easier to breathe when I drive. I’m debating on putting the CDs back in or not.

Day 5: I am thankful for spontaneous friendships. Especially when those new friends are under the age of 5. At church, I sit on the second row near the door to the Children’s Ministry. It is a quick out if the kids need something or if I’m in need of tissues and there are none at the resource center. It also is a great place to make sure all the kids make it into class or to be flagged down to help the teachers out. Today, Pastor got started on his message, I pulled out my notebook and bible, and then got distracted by two adults trying to talk littles into the classroom. I headed out to see if I could help, or recruit K into playing with them if she was already in the nursery. She had gone to class, so I made new friends and convinced them to come play in the nursery with me. I got to have an animal dance party, build a train out of duplo blocks, and help clean up an accident when we didn’t get a potty break in time. My new little friends held my hands, sat in my lap, and made sure I had plenty of pretend food to eat. I’m excited to be back to teaching this age group on Wednesday nights! Time to break out my play dough recipe and finger paints! Baby is excited that I get to be the teacher, but he made me pinky-promise that he gets to sit in the teacher chair and help out.

Day 6: I am thankful for a good day back from Winter break. I will admit that it was difficult to get up early, shower, and remember to get everything packed and ready to go. We did get out of the house on time! It was wonderful to see my students again (and I got a new one today) and hear about their breaks and what they got for Christmas. I’m glad that we had most of our specials today so they felt eased back into the routine. I had a chance to get things prepped for the week since I was really good and didn’t do ANY lesson planning over the break. I’m getting ready to move into 3rd term (half-way through the year already!) which means research papers in English, Personal Branding in business, and magnets/electricity in science. I’m looking forward to a teacher work day on Friday so I can get the whole term planned out, copies made, and unit tests finished up.

Day 7: I am thankful for Chocolate Milk. I don’t drink milk often — the smell makes me gag. When I was younger, I was allergic to milk (I can tolerate small amounts now that I’m older) so my brother and I used goat milk. One year the goats we got our milk from dried up, so we had to use powdered milk. DIGUSTING. I do happen to like goat cheese, but the milk is Yack. Once in a while I crave some chocolate milk, but I’m still picky. The milk has to be super cold and it has to be mixed with Nesquik. Tonight I feel like having some chocolate milk. Dinner is done and cleaned up, homework is done and the kids are heading to get jammies on. I have lesson plans for tomorrow. It is a good night to turn off the news, mix some chocolate milk, and read a good fiction novel.

Day 8: I am thankful for upcoming coffee dates. One of my resolutions is to be better at scheduling mom time with my adult friends. The kids have an upcoming church function, so my friend and I decided instead of going home we should meet up. I’m so excited! We make it a habit to get together for at least one adventure a week during the summer, so when school starts up again, I feel . . . lost. I’m reminded over and over that we are made for relationships, and I treasure the times when I get to connect with people. We are going to set another date for an adventure or a coffee break so we can get into a better habit of taking time out for us. And, I volunteered to start up our woman’s group again — her and I were the catalist for one a few years ago that slowly fell apart. As Rafiki said, “It is time!”

Day 9: I am thankful for snuggles. Even if they are fever induced snuggles. Baby woke me up at three am and asked if he could have a doctor appointent. That is how I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I was staying home with a sick one. I got lesson plans written up and printed, found a sub, got the kids ready for school, dropped the bigger three off, chatted with my sub, and made it to the InstaCare all by 8:30! Doctor said to keep an eye on him and use medication to bring his fever down. So we decided the best plan of action was to snuggle in my rocking chair with blankets and watch Paw Patrol movies. He was asleep by 10, and I sat and held him while he slept and I read until 2 when I had to get moving to get ready to pick kids up from school. The rest of the afternoon was watched Frozen, more Paw Patrol, snuggled and broke a fever. I’m sure that in no time he will be up and into mischief, so I’ll take the cuddly side while I can.

Day 10: I am thankful my classroom is a safe zone. It was a teacher work day, and I had a list of things I needed to get done to be ready for this term. Grades had to be entered and locked, new gradebook set up, copies made for English, and lesson plans outlined for English/science/health. I spent most of my day talking to co-workers who needed a place to talk about things, cry, and prayed over. I am thankful that my room is that place. I am also thankful god had HIs agenda and I was prepared to listen instead of pushing my To Do List. I got to come home feeling connected before I went to coffee wih my friend. Today was an amazing day of building friendships and taking them to a deeper level.

Day 11: I am thankful my mom knows how to get rid of migraines. We had K’s birthday party this morning. Five kids come over for breakfast sandwiches, played games for over an hour, and ate Candyland inspired cake. After they all left, I laid down for a nap (I had to get up early to get the cake and breakfast stuff bought and made). Woke up with a ragins migraine. C called my mom to come over because I could hardly move. She brought her oils and pressed my head and rubbed the knots out of my neck. I’m thinking I may also need to make an appointment with a doctor to make sure there isn’t anything going on — I’ve been getting them more and more lately and I’ve been chalking it up to stress and my getting older. Now, I’m not so sure.

Day 12: I am thankful for friends, football, and french fries. Today my team (the Packers) played the team of a family friend (the Seahawks), so we invited them over for food and to watch the game. The guys fried up chicken wings, and she cut up potatoes and fried up the potatoes. I’m a sucker for anything with potatoes, and these fries were delicious! The game was tight (Pakers for the WIN!), and we enjoyed each other. I seems like most of my favorie words begin with “F” lately — faith, family, friends, focus, football, fun, following, freedom . . .

Day 13: I am thankful for last minute subs. Daycare is closed because there are too many kids and all of the teachers out with the same things Baby has — fever, cough that makes you throw up, no energy. I threw together lesson plans and worksheets that I will take up in the morning when I drop the big kids off. Working at a charter school, I have to find someone who will sub, and the list is very small. After the first five people said they wouldn’t be able to, I got a bit panicked. Number 9 finally was free, and I am able to go to bed knowing that everything will be taken care of in the morning.

Day 14: I am thankful for K. Nine years ago today, I woke up an hour before my alarm and knew I was going to meet her. Her dad didn’t believe me and went back to sleep as I pulled out my bag and finished packing the things I needed. When his alarm went off, and I was sitting on the bed packed and timing my contractions, he believed me. We headed to the hospital in a snow storm. I had just gotten an epidural when the doctor came in to see how I was — she was crowning. She was my easiest labor, and she stayed in the pattern ( B was born at 4: 45 pm on a Friday, C was born at 5:54 pm on a Friday, R was born at 6 something pm on a Friday, and K was born at 7 something am on a Friday). She has been a joy in our life since. She follows her big broher around wanting to be like him, yet doing it her own way. She makes frends easily and quickly wherever she goes. Her smile brightens up the room. She and I have had a bit of a struggle this past year, and I’m glad that we are coming out of it.

Day 15: I am hankful for sick days. Not that I love my kids to be sick by any means — I hate sitting around watching movies and listening to them whine. But I do love that when they are napping I have time on my hands. Today I balanced my bank statement and then worked on things for Summer Book Clubs. I have a few more things to finalize, but I should be ready to print flyers to get out to schools in April. I also got a few loads of laundry and dishes washed, dried, and put away.

Day 16: I am thankful to be back in my classroom. After having sick kids for a week, it was nice to be back in my classroom. I was able to catch up on grading, have conversations with kids I needed to have, and have connection with my teaching partner again. I really enjoy teaching and the kids I have in my class.

Day 17: I am thankful for friends who donate to my wild ideas. My doctor’s office and my dentist’s office both have my name and phone number on file so hat I can get their old magazines each month. I was counting on these donations for my vision board class tomorrow, and something happened and there are no magazines available! I’ll be honest — I freaked out a bit. Then I took to Facebook and asked all for donations. I have some amazing friends who brought all they had for me to use. I am thankful they reached out and helped in my disress.

Day 18: I am thankful for the opertunity to present my first Vision Board class. It went well, and I think I presented a different way of looking at vision boards. I got some good feedback, and I took notes on myself. My biggest regret is that I didn’t have the boards I like to use cut and there for people to use. My next baby step in presenting again is to contact the lady I originally bought my vision boards from to see if I can get her to be my supplier. If not, I need to findsomeone who will make them for me.

Day 19: I am thankful for answers to questions. I have a friend who she and I have talked about religion several times. She asks great questions, and we have amazing discussions. I’ve been praying for a way to help her in her journey, and today at church the answer came! Our pastor has picked a book that is the Bible put together as a continuous story, and for the next few months he will be preaching one chapter. She is one of my reading friends, and one chapter a week is not too daunting! I bought her a copy and will present it to her, askingher to read along with me, and invite her to church again. It a least opens the door to more conversations!

Day 20: I am thankful Baby came out of his dental procedure well. He is stubborn about brushing teeth which had lead to five cavities. Last month I went in to get part of the filled, and he refused to cooperate with the dentist. So we ended up having to sedate him so they could get it all done a once. I will be honest, it was a bit startling to watch him fall asleep with his eyes open, and not respond. But, I trust our dentist and his team. I read my book in the waiting room while they worked, and then got to come back in when he was waking up. He opened his eyes, asked for a popsicle and started to sing Paw Patrol. He makes me giggle! I’m also thankful that he doesn’t take after me — I do not come out of it nicely. He is cavity free, and so far more willing to have his teeth brushed!

Day 21: I am thankful for forced prep days. In order to make dinner, I had to open a large package of hamburger. That means I have to do soemthing with the whole package. I made spaghetti sauce, cabbage roll filling, and then browned the rest to wrap into foil packets to be thawed for later use. The nice thing about browning hamburger is that I can prop my book up and read while keeping an eye on the meat. Most of the time the kids suddenly have othere pressing things to do than stay and help me, so the kitchen is quiet. Healthy meals for the rest of the week are prepped. I get to go to bed feeling like a super hero!

Day 22: I am thankful for heavy conversations. Today in school I started my “Say no to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco” unit. It’s a pretty touchy subject — lots of parents use something — and it is upsetting for several kids. The program I use is amazing because it give a lot of good skills (effective listening and speaking, critical thinking, and personal branding) along the way. Yeserday we talked about using only facts and not stories when we discuss things just because we want to be sensitive to people. I emphasized that no matter what choices our family and friends make, we love them and learn from them and make informed decisions. A few parents got notified, and our counselor was told to expect a few more kids on Wednesdays who need to see her. I’m thankful that I have a loving classroom envoronment where they are allowed to feel emotions that they might not be able to, that we have have honest conversations about addiction, and that I am able to relate having watched a loved one deal with it. I’m sad that they are so young and have to know some of these things, and I pray that what we talk about and their experiences make them choose a different lifestyle.

Day 23: I am thankful for my adinistration. Every year I have to have at least one (usually more) difficult meeting with a parent who is upset their student isn’t doing well in class, and I get blamed for it. Usually I get called incompetent, and in the past I have gone into these meetings trying to prove my knowledge base because I’m under pressure by both parent and administration. Weeks after, I’m still being called to prove that what I’m asking my students to do falls into the standards and there is research to back up the strategy. I’ve been doing this for 12 years. The meetings don’t change, the feelings don’t change, just the faces of the people I’m dealing with. This week I had another one of those meetings — the parent claimed that having to turn in a monthly reading log was a “damaging psychological game”. I started to get prepared by gathering my research, and then I talked to the administrator who would be in the meeting with me. After we talked, I realized that I was in a completly different place — he had my back and was willing to tell parents they were welcome to pull their child if they didn’t feel this was the best fit. I was calmer inside when the meeting started. I held the meeting just like I always have in the past — respectful, understanding they are upset about their child, giving knowledge and expectations as well as solutions to the hurdles they perceived. I leftthe meeting calm. I didn’t come home and stew about it or feel belittled or incompentent. It is amazing!

Day 24:

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