DIY Teacher’s Gifts: A Lesson in Gratitude

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Okay, confession time.  I am not good at being grateful.  Oh,  I have manners and know when to say please and thank you and I’m sorry (I’m Canadian afterall!) but I am not so good at being full of gratitude.  Recently, I was having a discussion with some friends about this topic of gratitude and it triggered a thought… are my children truly thankful for all they have?  Am I truly thankful for all I have?!  I live in a wonderful country where I am free to post my feelings and thoughts on a blog such as this.  I have food on the table, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head.  We have two cars and a place we can enjoy in the summer.  Our family is truly blessed.  In fact, I think we have way too much!  I have to start sorting and sharing as soon as the hamster wheel slows down.  Gratitude is tricky.  Are words enough?  Do we need to repay the kindness of a gift with another, reciprocal gift?  How do we be good examples to our children and show kindness and exude gratitude without being caught in the cycle of looking like we want something in return?  I don’t have the answer to this one.  Leave me a comment if you have some insight!

What I do know, is that we gotta start somewhere!  So, I decided that after my friendly discussion and sudden enlightenment about my lack of proper parenting, I knew that I had to tackle some thank you gifts!  The end of the school year is a great time to make some gratitude filled, easy to make, teacher thank you gifts!  These ones were pretty frugal too… an added bonus!  #gratitudeWe started out with some simple, dollar-store clay pots and leftover plastic buckets from spring planting… and then decorated away with paints and stickers and ribbons — stuff I had hanging around from other projects.  The paint didn’t stick to the green plastic, so we used some fun stickers and ABC’s for those.  The youngest and I had a nice bonding time doing some crafting… and it was a great opportunity for me to encourage her.  She didn’t think her bee looked quite right… so we added whimsical googly eyes … with such a cute result!

Next, we spooned in some dirt and simply added cuttings from some of my overgrown house plants!  This not only served our purpose, but gave us another opportunity to discuss sharing and being thankful for what we already have!  Succulents are perfect for this, as you don’t need much preparation ahead of time… simply snip and stick in some soil… this kalanchoe we had was spreading and already had tiny root shoots… so was easy to transplant.  We also separated some herbs and a lovely purple shamrock plant.  In the end, we had six quick and easy (and almost free!) gifts… enough for three elementary teachers and a few great sunday school helpers!  Some hand made cards topped off the lesson in gratitude (hand written by the kids, of course!) and volila!

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Teachers are very special people… and I am forever telling our four beloveds that teachers play a huge part in their lives!  Trust me… it is really hard to impart information to a large group of young people from diverse backgrounds who often don’t want to be sitting in that desk in front of you.  Especially when they come with a set of parents watching your every move.  Be kind to teachers.  They are human too.  They need some love and thanks after a full year in the classroom!

I’m not sure that my gratitude level has jumped too many degrees up the scale from this project… but at least it gave me a chance to chat a bit with the youngest two — and share some love around.  Perhaps it’s a start.  Perhaps it will “grow” on us as we practice more…. Sorry… couldn’t resist… some teacher taught me about puns once… aren’t you grateful? 🙂

 

P.S.  Once you have said “thank you” to your beloved teachers and said good-bye for another school year… keep following mittonmusings.com!  Click the follow button on the side bar … I have some exciting changes coming this summer!  You won’t want to miss it!!

 

 

 

How to be a Superhero!

If you have been following my blog for any amount of time, you will know that I love a great photo.  A great photographer captures something in that photo that allows it’s viewer to experience something through the photo.  Grief.  Joy.  Peace.  Haunting.  Something gets triggered when we view images.  (This is why it is important to guard our hearts and minds… images are so powerful!)  So… when I came across an article about photographer Josh Rossi, I was impressed with his work… not just because he is a super photographer, but because of the feelings he leaves behind his work.  If you clicked through and read his story, Josh Rossi is a full time photographer who has developed a few projects for some super kids.  The article I first discovered was about his justice league project — using sick kids.  Many of these kids faced lifelong or terminal illnesses and he wanted to create a project that gave them power… the power of a superhero!  His recent images features kids passionate about stopping the bullying issue.  His images portray the children as the true super heroes they are.  Strong, courageous and willing to fight.

So I began to muse again… what constitutes a “superhero”?  Why the fascination? Why do we long for superheros and stories of power and strength?  They have been around for decades… and the fad continues as Marvel, DC and even Disney want to cash in on our cravings for the ultimate “saviour”.

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Photo via Twitter

According to quora.com, Superman’s appearance in 1938, is considered by many as the first “superhero”.  The man of steel.   Faster than a speeding bullet!  More powerful than a locomotive!  Able to leap tall buildings… Well… you get the picture…  The debate among comic book enthusiasts is whether characters like John Carter (1911) or Tarzan (1912) were the true start of our superhero quest or was Superman the first?  Which is better?  DC or Marvel?  No matter when the first comic hero was hailed, the result carries through to our recent creations… Black Panther, Wonder Woman, Justice League and the like.   Heck, even the Lego Movie’s, Emmet, LEGO Emmetcan be awarded superhero status if we consider the definition as follows:  a superhero is a character that has special powers that are used for fighting evil or helping people.  The definition has been expanded to include persons who’s character, through their actions/achievements are far greater than what people expect.  Mamoudou Gassama, the immigrant who scaled the four story building to save a four year old child is being hailed as a superhero.  Father’s day has just passed.  Perhaps your dad is your superhero — the one who saves you when the rent is due, or was able to fix everything when the car was dying, or seemed like the strong, stable one in your life.  Maybe it was your wonder woman mom who yielded the truth out of you every time with her lasso of truth (or her penetrating laser-eyed stare)!  I think we simply have a need somewhere deep in our souls that crave a hero.  I also think we were meant to be one for others.

I am convinced that we were created to fight against the evil in this world… to stand for truth and justice and to defeat the villainous notions that creep in to our society.  The hard part is deciding what side to stand on.  Moralities are easily swayed by time and the voice of a few vocal radicals.  Many areas are “grey”.  The next generation is growing up in a world where absolute truths are nonexistent.  There are very few black and whites left.  Society oscillates on the pendulum of good and evil almost daily.  Each of us have our own personal kryptonites.  And yet, we are told that we are “…more than conquerors…” (Romans 8) and when we pray and ask and seek … we have the power to move mountains!

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Photo via DiviantArt Arunion

That is strength, people!  Supernatural, superhuman strength!  So why do so many of us feel defeated?  Do we not have enough faith?  Do we let our own insecurities get in the way?  Why have the Incredibles all gone back to leading mild mannered lives?  Hung up our super suits for life as boring insurance brokers?  Perhaps we simply have to take the first step.  To be willing to stop the pendulum swing.  To declare that atrocities must stop.

 

Henceforth, my fellow warriors… I hereby challenge you to take up your swords and shields of faith to follow me as I join you in the battle against injustices!  We must truly study as well-informed sages, to follow the leads of good, wise and patient masters, to test our skills and practice and improve upon our weaknesses.  So that when the enemy approaches, we can stand against the wicked schemes and fight as super heros.  To be hailed as one who’s actions and achievements are far greater than what others expect. It will not be easy.  It may involve blood, sweat and tears.  It might mean facing fears.  It will certainly be difficult.  Yet, when our photograph is taken at the end of the battle and stuck up on the refrigerator for others to see, will you and I be hailed as a heros?   I trust we will be able to wear our badges of honour with pride, and know that within our small circles of influences, we were able to stand tall, to be strong and courageous, and to make a difference in our world.  Now go do it.armour of God

 

 

A Restful Moment

Ever Feel Like You are on the Perpetual Hamster Wheel_Have you ever felt like you were on a perpetual hamster wheel?  Spinning ’round and ’round and never really getting anywhere?  Busy, but not much is getting accomplished.  That’s what I feel like I’ve been doing these last couple of weeks.  It’s a busy time of year at work and I have been up at the crack of dawn, travelling around, saving the world (a class at a time) through the wonders of hands-on science.   When I get home later, the dishes and laundry have piled up, and even though I try and get the house back in some semblance of order, it’s not really “clean” and all I really want to do is nap.  The kids are heading into exams, year end projects and track finals.  The oldest is already off preparing colour coded lists and organizing for her summer job.  My beloved has been holding down the fort and filling in by playing “domestic goddess” after work.  He is such a great help — tidying and getting the kids where they need to be.  I guess I will keep him. 🙂  We are all looking forward to the end of June and the beginning of summer holidays.

As a couple, we thought we might have gotten a little break last weekend when the two of us attended the AGC National Conference in beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.  He was going for work and I got to go as a delegate this year … which really means an excuse to follow him.  He has attended such conferences numerous times, so for my hubby, the extrovert he is, this weekend was connecting again with people he knows and shares memories with.  For the wallflower, introverted me, it was more smiling and nodding and 3 days of making small talk with people I don’t really know over scheduled, albeit wonderfully catered, coffee breaks. abide The days were full of business meetings, numbers and a lot of reports.  Now don’t get me wrong,  I have a weakness for meetings.  I actually like taking notes and hearing stories and love to see lists and goal setting trends and charts.  It’s the people I need to learn to love.  A few of the conference attendees (hubby included) found it difficult to sit for 8 hours straight and look at statistics.  Their answer to day long meetings?  Spend your free time climbing up and down seven flights of stairs and trekking through the Niagara escarpment along the raging Niagara river to take in the view.  Sorry… there are only so many wonders of the world you can see until it all just begins to look like moss covered rocks.

ApplewoodWhat I did enjoy was one quiet moment of reflection on the porch of our quaint little Bed & Breakfast in the beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake area not far from the conference.  A quiet retreat nestled in surrounding shade gardens complete with bird feeders and…. free range chickens!  (Did I mention I want chickens? You can read about my zoo here.) The inn is even within walking distance to a couple wineries — so we indulged in the luxury of a glass one night after a full day of meetings.  Applewood Hollow might be a bit on the higher end of the scale for an average conference attendee, but work was paying,  so we booked our two night stay complete with breakfasts in the little breakfast nook just outside our room.  Jane, our host,  makes a “to die for” rhubarb crisp and she swears her chickens make the freshest egg/asparagus quiche.  (It was yummy!)  The guest rooms are private and down the hall from the main house,  which is kind of nice for a small B&B. The bedrooms are in the loft overlooking the gardens.   Tastefully decorated and clean, the guest house is a very nice stay.  It would be a charming venue for an artist/writer/speaker looking to get away and work, or even a romantic anniversary getaway.  I recommend it.  One morning, I took advantage of the views, visited the chickens, snapped some photos, and watched a beautiful, big blue jay eat his breakfast at the feeder.  My heart was calmed and peace once again ensued as the hamster wheel slowed for that one brief moment.QuietMoment

Everybody has those times when they are busy.  Bogged down by all the “duties” of life and pie charts.  Even Jesus.  He travelled across the country attending “conferences” on hill tops… and thousands gathered to take in His words or experience His miraculous deeds.  He, too, got away from the people once and awhile and reflected on His purposes and re-focused.  I wonder if He liked asparagus quiche?  He tells us to refresh and renew, to reconnect with God, to find rest when we are weary (Matt. 11).  It is so good for our souls.

Are you feeling weary, my friend?  Drained by your to-do list and on the never ending treadmill of “catching up?”  Take heart.  Then take a break.  Breathe in the fresh air of reconnecting with God and the beauty of His nature.  If you get a chance, go visit Jane and her chickens at Applewood Hollow in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Say hello to my blue jay friend for me — and try the rhubarb crisp!

Dinosaur Fossils: My First Guest Post!

 

Thanks so much for following along with me at mittonmusings.com!  I am encouraged by my steady increase in “followers” and am thoroughly enjoying the adventure.  Thank you for participating in the journey!  If you care to share, please pass on your favourite post via google+, facebook, bloglovin’, instagram or pinterest!  Drumroll… I am now tweeting on Twitter too!  You can also email your friends the link or follow along via wordpress reader!  Ha!  You can even TALK to others about it… how crazy would that be?! I am quickly learning that in the blog “underworld” (yes, it truly is another world lying in the shadows of a undiscovered realm of bloggers and writers in this thing we call the internet!) sharing is the biggest way that you can grow! As I learn to put myself  “out there”,  I am happy to announce that I have shared in my first guest post!  So… instead of posting another blog this week… please head on over to visit Anna at abrazoandcoze.com and read all about my easy dinosaur fossil craft!

 

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I’ll be back next Tuesday with another muse about something close to my heart!  Until then, encourage one another, love deeply and smile a little.  🙂