Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snow Day!

Actually, if we're being honest - it's really more of a cold weather day. I think we finally hit 1* sometime today! Tomorrow is going to be slightly warmer, but still pretty brutal.  I'm thankful for the time off, especially since I'm pretty sure none of my students would've come today (most in that class take public transportation and/or have children in public schools, which were also closed today).  I've spent most of my day trying to be productive. Including reorganizing the shelves on my bookcase where I keep my ESOL teaching materials. They actually look pretty neat AND are in some kind order so I can easily find things! I almost wish I'd taken a "before" picture :)  We're slowly making progress on getting the place organized!
We won't talk about what the rest of the bookshelf looks like... 

The picture of Conway above was actually taken on Valentine's Day, which was snowy, cold and blustery! J and I had a pretty low key day. We went to brunch, spent the afternoon shopping for home organizing supplies, had dinner (and a margarita) at our go-to Mexican place down the street, and rented Frozen from RedBox :) I also spent some time working on the sweater I'm knitting. It's my first one and is going slow, but steady, so far. I know it won't be perfect, but I do hope it's at least wearable! 

Things in the classroom are going relatively well, though classes have been smaller than usual with all of this nasty weather. My self-directed activity time experiment has been going well so far. It seems my students of all levels particularly enjoy doing word finds. I think that different levels get different benefits from them.  For example, the vast majority of my level 0 students are native speakers of languages that use very different alphabets (Cyrillic, Nepali, Arabic), and a few aren't even literate in their native language, For them, the letter recognition aspect of word finds is great practice. I like to use word finds that have themes. This week's theme was "baking" and my more advanced students enjoyed learning new words like "bundt" and "butterscotch" :) 

From a chapter on clothing I was working with a student on this week. I'm pretty sure the answer here is "A".

 I also wanted to thank everyone who donated to my fundraiser! We raised enough for 127 kits of a nail file and tube of chapstick for Hanna House! You guys rock! I'll be sure to post pictures when everything arrives :)  In other Thirty-One news, I'm doing my next bridal show this weekend! Hopefully the weather will cooperate and there will be lots of people there. I'm also hosting an open house at my place on March 6. If you're in the area and want details, let me know! There will be desserts, drinks, and the chance to check out some of the new items from the catalog, including my new favorite - the limited edition Mini Diamond District :)

And that's all I've got for tonight :) Stay warm, everyone!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Musings on community (and some things for ourselves!)

As you can tell from how long it's been since I last posted, the first few weeks back at work have been very, very busy! And a little stressful with all of the snow/ice/winter weather. (check out that picture of my classroom last week five minutes after class was scheduled to start!) But I'm getting back into the groove.

Before I get into what I've been up to, I wanted to let my readers know about a fundraiser I'm doing! (My apologies to those who have seen this before!) In honor of the anniversary of the Thirty-One Gives campaign, I'm currently doing a fundraiser that benefits both University Hospital's Hanna House and Girl Talk (Through Thirty-One's charity, Thirty-One Gives).  The goal of this fundraiser is to show how every little bit helps and that, by working together, we can make a big difference!

University Hospital’s Hanna House Skilled Nursing Center, a local subacute care facility, lists nail files and chapstick as two items they are always in need of. With the purchase of each URU nail file from Thirty-One, the company makes a donation of 31 cents to Girl Talk, an international non-profit peer-to-peer mentoring program for middle school girls. 

For your donation of $2.50, you can sponsor a kit of 1 nail file and 1 tube of chapstick for Hanna House AND contribute 31 cents to Girl Talk. My goal is to raise enough for 100 kits by February 14th.You are welcome to sponsor as many kits as you’d like and donations can be made in honor of a loved one! (Makes a great Valentine’s Day gift!) Are you in? Even if all you can give is $2.50, it would still be a big help! Just let me know (you can comment here!) and I'll send you payment details. You can either send a check or send money though PayPal. 

I've bee thinking a lot about community lately. Not only this fundraiser, but on a larger scale. Last week, J and I (and my mother-in-law) went to the meeting of Greater Cleveland Congregations, which is an interfaith group that works together to take action on social justice issues. At this particular meeting, there were over 1000 people of all faiths gathered to present a list of recommendations for the Cleveland Police's Consent Decree to the Mayor and US Attorney Steve Dettelbach, and Department of Justice Civil Rights Section Chief Jonathan Smith.  It was such an amazing and moving experience and I'm so glad we were a part of it.  You can read more about it at 

I am also always amazed by the community I find in my classrooms. Today in my lowest level class, we all made valentines for each other. A little silly perhaps, but for some in this group of students, even just writing the names of their classmates is a big struggle. And it was really sweet to see them all giving each other cards, especially those who are from very different cultures.  I also made some pretty darn good red velvet cookies for them as part of our Valentine's Day celebration :)

I've been feeling very thankful for my friends recently, too. Things have been so busy lately and I tend to get tunnel vision and forget about everything other than work. Huge thanks to our friends who invited us to a basketball game this past weekend. It was so nice to catch up with them (and the seats were pretty amazing, too!) I've also had several friends really step up to help me with some things in my Thirty-One business and I am so, so grateful for their support. 

And, finally, on a more selfish note - J and I had our first meeting with a home organizer this past weekend! It's a bit of a leap of faith (especially as she does things like rearrange our furniture - neither one of us is that good with change ;)  ), but we're hoping for good results. We've got some homework from our first meeting and when we finish that, she'll come back to help us organize our storage room. That will be a difficult task for sure, but I'm really excited about the possibilities.  Now I just need to work on my own issues with letting go of stuff! Anyone have any good advice?

and I'll leave you with this image in honor of Valentine's Day (and because we used conversation hearts as bingo chips in my classes today!)