Saying Goodbye

By: Shannon Shull

I experienced a bittersweet week recently in which I had to say goodbye to my students from this past school year and pack up my entire classroom. The middle school that I have the honor of teaching at is splitting into two schools – an intermediate school and a new middle school. I get to move my drama department to the new middle school. In preparation for this big move, I had to pack up literally everything.

my empty classroom

My empty classroom

es, I admit, my Thor poster had to stay up until I was ready to walk out the door that final time! ;-)

Yes, I admit, my Thor poster had to stay up until I was ready to walk out the door that final time! 😉

As I taped up the final box and checked out with administration, I took a moment to reflect. As I gazed upon the small, emptied space, I thought about all the incredible experiences I have witnessed and been a part of over the past two school years. Trials and tribulations galore! If the walls could whisper, I’d hope they’d say there was once a woman here that accomplished great things for and with her students. A woman who made big sacrifices to be an outstanding teacher of Drama.

A student note.

A student note.

Student notes

Student notes

It’s not until the room is quiet that some teachers will realize how much they will actually miss their students. Though we all desperately need a much-deserved break, there’s still a part of us that will miss some of our precious students. Only the day before, on the last day of school, my classroom was packed with energetic students singing and dancing, celebrating the end of a long school year. My honors students filled my room and as the last afternoon announcements of the school year ended, they literally recreated a scene from High School Musical II, in which they chanted “Summer, Summer, Summer…!” and then broke out into the song “Summertime” from the movie. What fun! And what a glorious, super-fun exit! Tearful hugs and best wishes for all things created a sweet final goodbye.

Precious Note from one of my 8th Graders

Precious Note from one of my 8th Graders

My wish is that we all have a productive, restful, and fun summer that reinvigorates us all! And I know this lady here will be happy to see some of those precious, smiling faces next school year who appreciated and adored their teacher so much!

Baby Sign Language

By: Brady Evans

Did you know that babies can do sign language? They can communicate with sign language well before they can with words.

baby sign language

We started signing with Benjamin when he was just a few months old – right when we felt he could focus on our hands and mouth. We’d say the words out loud and give him the hand motions and then feel like fools for doing so. And then one day, when he was about six months old, he gave us the “milk” sign while nursing. That’s when we knew this was going to be a great thing. A 6-month-old with a specific communication for his hunger!? Amazing.

Our caregivers and I used Babysignlanguage.com for signs. These signs are simplified versions of American Sign Language. There are videos and cards you can use with your child but we never took that route. We just say the word and use the sign. Now at 13 months old, Benjamin signs “milk,” “eat,” “more,” and “wait.”

It truly is an amazing experience having a child that purposefully asks for what he desires instead of screaming out of frustration. You don’t need to worry about using signs inhibiting language development. My child has 4 distinct verbal words at 13 months old in addition to his signs. Signing simply enhances the language we use. It really is a fun and rewarding way to interact with your baby.

For more information, read these articles from BabyCenter and psych central.

Straight Talk about Sleep

By: Crissie Kirby

I don’t know about you, but the older I get, the worse my sleep habits have become. I’ve always been an “early to bed, early to rise” sort of person; however, over the last few sleeplessyears, this has evolved into a sleeping pattern/cycle that, frankly, stinks.

I swore I would never let my children sleep with me; and yet, sometimes, they do. Even worse, sometimes I fall asleep with them. I will go in to read to them and, more often than not, I fall asleep before they do. It is not uncommon for me to fall asleep between 9:00 and 9:30, then wake around 1:00 or 2:00 am and fight getting back to sleep for upwards of 2 hours; thus leaving me only about an hour or two before the alarm is calling me to get up and start my day. This all leaves me feeling exhausted most days.

Part of my issue is ADHD-related, and part of it is being the single head of my household. Regardless, when I wake up at those random hours my mind is usually racing. What can I fix for supper? Did I leave that load of laundry in the washer (again)? Did I finish grading those tests? Do the boys have clean underwear? Where are the dogs and cats? Did we remember to feed said dogs and cats? What bill(s) do I need to pay today? Did I remember/forget to get gas in the car? The list could, and often literally does, go on for hours.

What is a sane person to do?

Fortunately, on one of those sleepless nights, I happened upon an article that discussed different apps one might use to help himself or herself fall asleep and stay asleep. As a direct result of that app, I have become a fervent believer in one of those apps ~ Relax Melodies by Ipnos Soft. Consistently, when I have trouble sleeping, I can turn on this app and be asleep in less then twenty minutes; often less. And I stay asleep as long as I just let it play. The beauty in the app is that it is essentially a sound machine, but one with endless possibilities as it provides you with a plethora of sounds that you can mix and match and save as favorites. You can upgrade to the paid version, but I’ve had great success with the free version. My “go-to” sound is one I created that I call Stormy SC Day – lots of rain sounds, mixed with some thunder and lightening. Sometimes, when I remember, I will have the app play on my alarm clock through the bluetooth wireless connection.

Do any of you suffer with lack of sleep or lack of quality of sleep? If so, what are some of your tried and true methods for getting that oh-so-important 7-9 hours each night?

Boardrooms & Boobs: Making Breastfeeding Work at Work

By: Sarah McClanahan

Making Breastfeeding Work at WorkDISCLAIMER: These posts will talk a lot about my boobs. That’s how you breastfeed, by the way. With your boobs. If you’re not interested in boobs, or breastfeeding, you may want to read something else.

Jodi Picoult once wrote, “24/7. Once you sign on to be a mother, that’s the only shift they offer.” And it’s true. Motherhood is a full time job.

I’m the proud mother of two little boys. Super Colin turned 4 in February, and Sweet Baby Ethan is 6-1/2 months old. As if that wasn’t crazy enough, my husband and I both work full time. Oh, and I’m breastfeeding.

Feeding a baby is a full time job in itself. Most of the time, I feel as if I work three jobs. There’s my professional job, the one where I parent two kids and run a household with my husband, and the one where I’m the human equivalent of a dairy cow.

How do I do it? I have no idea. When you’re sleep-deprived and juggling a slew of deadlines, things can get a little fuzzy. What I do know is that it’s not easy being a nursing mother, let alone one who works outside the home. There are times when it’s frustrating, exhausting and downright comical, but it has always been worth it.

It’s funny. Before I became a mother, I never thought I’d breastfeed my children. It just wasn’t for me. When I became pregnant with Super Colin, I figured that I’d give it a shot. After all, I worked at a hospital and knew the spiel. If it worked out, great. If not, that was OK, too.

Little did I know how natural breastfeeding would be for me, and how much I would love it. No latch issues, no infections. With Colin, I went back to work full time after an eight-week maternity leave, and I managed to exclusively breastfeed him for nine months, supplemented for another month and made the switch to formula at 10 months.

Making Breastfeeding Work at WorkI went from completely disinterested in breastfeeding to “breast is best” within hours of meeting my firstborn. I loved nursing Super Colin, and when I became pregnant with Sweet Baby Ethan, I knew that we would do everything possible to make breast best again.

And so far, it is. We’ve been exclusively breastfeeding for a little more than six months and Ethan is thriving on Mommy’s milk.

By no means am I an expert on breastfeeding, but I hope that these posts will help expectant and new families as they figure out how they want to feed their children. Whether it’s with your boobs, formula or some combination of the two, or you stay at home or work out of the home, we’re all doing the best we can for our kids.

Find out how we’ve made breast best for us in my next post!

#NormalizeBreastfeeding

#DontBeABoobFeedABabyFromOne

Summer Reading

By: Leah Prescott

One of my most fervent hopes for my children is that they grow into enthusiastic readers. A couple years ago, when we were struggling through blending and painfully making our young readersway through the repetitive BOB books, I thought for a while it might never happen. But something finally clicked with each of the girls and soon they couldn’t be slowed down. One of my girls particularly races through books at a pace that challenges the library’s young reader section.

As we wrap up our homeschooling year in a couple weeks, I’m looking forward to reading more books with my girls. Even though they are strong independent readers, there is still something magical about reading aloud together. I look forward to introducing them to some of my favorites like “Pride & Prejudice” and “Anne of Green Gables” with an almost giddy anticipation. Revisiting your childhood’s joys with your own children has to be one of God’s sweetest gifts to parents. Right now, we are reading the Five Little Peppers and it’s bringing up some very helpful conversations about entitlement in our family.

If your children are reluctant readers, here are some things you can do to help draw them into the world of literature:

1. Visit the library weekly and check out an abundance of books. Don’t give up, even if your kids don’t show much interest. Don’t forget to show them that YOU read too (blogs and Facebook do not count).

encourage kids to like reading

2. Do some research into your child’s favorite toy, movie, character or subject. Whether it’s Minecraft, cupcakes, kittens, or hula hooping, chances are, you will find a book or series that will spark their interest.

3. Keep books in the car. I sometimes regret that our minivan didn’t come equipped with a TV, but my children can get in a lot of reading in the car just from riding around town during our typical week.

4. Go media-free. Having a TV and video game free week, month or summer may be exactly what your child needs to finally embrace books. We have done this a couple times and it always helps us center our attitudes and hearts, as well as free up time for more productive hobbies like reading.

encourage kids to like reading

5. Discover audio books. The library has a good collection of audio books for adults and kids, as well as downloadable content. There is also Amazon’s sister store, Audible.com, although I confess it intimidates me. Whether you choose classic literature or a Magic Treehouse book, audio books can help your children connect to the stories in a way that reading might not have.

6. Throw a book party. This might take a little more preparation, but why not plan a book-themed evening with food and games related to a story or series? This could be elaborate as a Cat in the Hat dinner party or as simple as a Tom Sawyer picnic.

As a kick-off to a delightful, book-filled summer, don’t miss Storyfest 2015! State Museum and Library will host this free event on Saturday, June 6th from 9-4. The event will include crafts, presentations, face painting and more. Find more information here. Happy Reading!