Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We've just returned from the Christmas Eve service at the beautiful church in Delaplane, VA and I was reminded of what may be my favorite carol. We can all give our hearts during this season, no matter what tethers us financially, physically or emotionally!

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

221. In the Bleak Midwinter

Text: Christina G. Rossetti, 1830-1894
Music: Gustav Holst, 1874-1934
Tune: CRANHAM, Meter: Irr.

1. In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
 earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
 snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
 in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

2. Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
 heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
 In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
 the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

3. Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
 cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
 but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
 worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

4. What can I give him, poor as I am? 
 If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
 if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
 yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.

Friday, December 23, 2011

There's No Place Like Home for the Holidays!

Here I sit with a coffee in my hand, the smells of a fantastic breakfast fill the room, the tree stands proud and dawned with ornaments, and my presents for others are wrapped and sound under the tree. Dad sits reading to us from his chosen media pastime (the newspaper, magazine, latest novel, or internet article), Mom moves between making breakfast rounds and writing Christmas cards, Willem is nestled in the basement watching, well, something, Jim takes Leif out for a romp,  and Phoebe, the latest riser, makes her way down the stairs.

All is well.

May your days be merry and bright!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Listen, listen...

Candle time is over now and reading time has passed,
Little children rest for tomorrow will come at last.
Do not pay attention to the noises of the night,
Hark angels guide you 'til God send the morning light.
(Adult/Parent Chorus)

Get out of bed
We hear it call
With that bright star
Dancing it's light

Get out of bed
We hear it call
Now is the happiest night of all...
(Children Chorus)

Listen, listen...

Listen, listen...

Listen, listen...

These lyrics have been sung by me and by many during the holiday season at school and SCORE concerts. This is one of my dad's many beautiful gifts to communities in our area and they just keep giving as we remember and are comforted by these words and melodies!

Today is my second day of a two week break and while tonight is not Christmas Eve, I am reminding myself to enjoy this beautiful season of gift-giving, love, and joy!

To revert back to a previous post- I am going to be still, and I am also going to listen!

As a reminder more to myself than to anyone... stop and smell the hot cocoa and evergreens, gaze at the poinsettias, and bundle up in that warm sweater because this is a season to savor.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


On April 16, 2007 a gunman shot and killed 33 people on the Virginia Tech campus. A stunned country and world watched and waited as the details came forward. I sat in my dorm room on Longwood's campus and let the news play on the TV all day long, my heart breaking for the families, friends, students, professors, and community involved.

Not many years later I find myself working and living in the community that's still healing from the pain and angst felt on that dreadful day. It's not a day that "must-not-be-named," on the contrary, it's a day that comes up in conversation and everyone has their own story.

At 1 PM today I had just led my students back from the library and they were changing classes. Most of my next period were settled and writing in their Day Books when I was summoned into the hall. A gunman on the Tech campus, gun shots, people dead, killer on the loose. Lockdown.

My mind wanted to jump to debating whether or not Jim's school was really considered to be Tech campus or not. Would they have told me if it was the Research Park, specifically? Or is that just known as campus? Or was it on the main campus?

Those aren't questions you can ask when there are students relying on you. Students who know that you never leave the room, unless there's something important. And those aren't thoughts you can really entertain when you have a poor poker face, and the students know that, too.

So, you just relax. And follow the lesson plan.

Until the lesson plan ends and it's really time for the students to leave.

Lockdown continued. What then?

Well, then you pretend that it's really all still fine. You see, you'd really been planning on staying with those students for an extra hour after school. The bag of tricks was poised and waiting all along, without you even knowing it!

Just break the students into groups and give them a challenge! Using only a piece of looseleaf paper, four paperclips, one rubberband, and some masking tape, make a contraption that will take the longest to fall, when dropped from the ceiling. Stand on a stool (get some weird looks and laughs from the principal and guidance counselor when the come by for checks and information), time them, get a drumroll, and announce the winners.

Still on lockdown.

Okay, now regroup and plan what you would do to make it better! New supplies, if needed. Time them, drumroll, and announce the winners!

You guessed it, still on lockdown.

New challenge! Using five pieces of copy paper, a piece of masking tape, and scissors, make the tallest, stand-alone tower you can!

20-25 minutes go by.

Lockdown is released. Buses are ready!

No measuring of towers needed. Pillars all over the classroom.


Now it's time to debate with myself about that campus topic. What is the med. school considered?

An email from Jim with the subject, "I'm OKay!" Just relax.

Pretend it's in the plan.

There were two people killed on the campus today. One was a VT Campus police officer, the other is thought to be the gunman. VT was criticized in 2007 for not communicating with the student body quickly and making sure that procedures were taken to secure a lockdown. Today VT has proven that their alert systems are far superior than they had been before.

We are thankful that our schools took the safety precautions that they did. And today I am thankful for the purpose I was given in that moment to care for others, rather than to succumb to worry and concern. We certainly don't feel less safe in our town.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Roof Over Your Head Day

I receive email updates for the holiday that goes with each day through I started going to this site to assit me in writing prompts for my students to choose from each day during Day Book time. But it's become an email that I'm eager to open every day, unlike the many spam/advertisement emails I get and immediately delete.

Sometimes they are cheesy holidays, other times I question whether there really should be a Lemon Cupcake Day or a Strawberry Shortcake Day, but sometimes I'm convicted and sometimes I become more educated.

Today I am convicted. As I took a break in my warm house from throwing clay on the wheel and listening to Christmas music, I read that today is "Roof Over Your Head Day!"

And did you know the following?

December 3, 2011 is

National Roof Over Your Head Day

Today is National Roof Over Your Head Day! Buying a house is often the single largest investment a person will make in his or her lifetime. Did you know that the homeownership rate in the United States is around 66% of the population? Studies have shown that homeowners are more active in their communities, have improved education opportunities, and report higher levels of self-esteem and happiness.
Regardless of whether you rent or own, today is an opportunity to take a moment to appreciate the roof over your head!
December is National Fruit Cake Month & National Egg Nog Month
While I hope to be a homeowner one day, I find it fascinating to hear what studies have found about those who are. It is the simple and mundane things that we take for granted that really make all of the difference in how we are in our home, our work, and in our community. Interesting and humbling!