Creating new things while allowing God to create a new me!!

Monthly Archives: August 2012

I shared what I did to display the brain breaks for my classroom this year in my post “Because every brain needs a break.”   As promised here is a list of some of the brain breaks that I use in my classroom.  I am sure I will be adding more as I go.  Each activity is planned to be done in 1 minute and 3 at the most.

1.  Beach ball – We simply use a beach ball and the class must keep it above there heads for the full minute.  Can be done in their seats or while standing.

2.  6 corners – There are six places in the classroom.  While the music is on the students move around the room and when it stops they need to be in one of the six places.  I roll the die and whatever number I roll those students are still “in” and the rest must return to their seats.  I keep rolling the die until there is only one student remaining.

3.  Would you rather – I have a set of “Did you know?” cards.  This is the child version of the game “would you rather”.  I read some of the cards to the students and they get to pick what is there choice. 

4.  10 push ups, 20 jumping jacks, 10 sit ups.

5.  Dance party – I put on a favorite song for the class to dance to.

6.  Seat switch – Everybody stands behind their desks and I call out some characteristics such as everybody wearing stripes and anyone with that characteristic must switch seats with someone else with that characteristic.

7.  Slap me 5 – Everybody gives 5 people a high 5.

8.  Skip Counting – This is right in line with our math curriculum.  I pick a number we have to count by and we try to get through the whole class.  Every time we count by a number we try to beat the time it took us on our last try.

9.  Sign language ABC’s.

10.  Telephone – The well known childhood game of telephone.  I give a message that students whisper in each other’s ears.  We see how close we can get it to the original message.

11.  The Wave

12.  Comedian – Students get to take turns telling appropriate jokes.

13.  Simon says

There will no doubt be more to come but this is what I am starting with.  I have done all of these in the past but plan to do them much more intentionally and more often.

Lord it’s in your hands!

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Two weeks from today, 28 little bodies will walk through my classroom door. They will be nervous, they will be excited, they will be unsure, they will be ready. They will want the best from me just as I will want the best from them. They will be hoping that I am nice, that I will be fun. I will be hoping that they are ready to learn, that they are eager to be better students, and that they are well cared for. We will meet each others eyes, wondering what the other one has to offer. We will wonder what the year will bring. I will have plans for them, I will want them to meet the objectives, pass the test, make progress. I will have pressures and time lines. Eyes watching to make sure I am doing my job just as my eyes are watching them, keeping them in line. We will laugh, work, wonder, question, struggle, butt heads and yes there will be tears……probably from both of us. They will remember…..the words I said, the way I looked at them, some of the things I taught, the times we laughed, the trouble they got in and the lessons they learned. I will meet their parents, learn what their lives are like, the struggles they have, their special talents and their biggest hopes.

Will they walk away knowing that I cared? Will they know that I believed in them? Will they believe that I gave them my best? Will they know that I did everything I could? Will they know that they mattered to me? Most importantly will they see God’s love through me? Will they look at me and know that I am different because my life and my heart belong to the Lord? All those are things that I hope for. As I begin to make some preparations and plans I realize that there is a huge weight on my shoulders. This is not just a job, it is a mission, a passion, a responsibility. Am I up for it…….again?

So I pray. I pray that the Lord will give me the strength I need when I am too tired to give my all. I pray that the Lord protects those precious children from the dangers of the world around them. I pray that they will be loved and cared for, that no one will hurt them. I pray that they will believe in themselves and see that they have the potential to be more than they can imagine. I pray that God will help me to love, guide, teach and understand each one of them. I pray that the dramas of working in a school will be minimal and that the best interest of the children is ALWAYS the number one priority. I pray that at the end of the year I will be a better teacher than when the year began. I pray that I will turn to the Lord each and every moment of every day. I pray that I won’t forget to put him first in every situation. I pray that I live a life and teach in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. I pray my co workers will look at me and see that I live my life for my heavenly father, that they will see I’m different and know why. So many other things that I desire for in my job. All I can do is give it to the Lord. I will, I will trust him with this year, I will know that he is an amazing God who can and will take tender care of his precious children.

I give him the worries and anxiety I feel today. For I know that he has me in this position for a reason. May I bring glory to his name. May he bring calm to my heart and mind.

Lord it’s in your hands.


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((I HAVE NOW BEGUN SELLING THESE IN MY ETSY SHOP.  ALTHOUGH THIS SPECIFIC ONE IS NOT AVAILABLE THERE ARE A COUPLE OTHERS ON THERE AND I WILL DO CUSTOM ORDERS FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS. www.etsy.com/shop/OneHairCreations))

Finally a non-school related project.  Another one I have been planning for a while.  I have seen lately a few different ways to display jewelry in a fun manner.  I am not a huge jewelry person but I have started collecting some pieces that I do like to wear now and then.  I have been keeping them in a box in my bedroom.  It works, but I often forget what I have and spend way too much time untangling the necklaces.  Not too long ago I saw an idea on pinterest where someone had used different knobs and drawer pulls on a board for a coat rack. Here are a few examples.  I got to thinking there must be other things you could do with these fun little treasures.  That’s when this idea began to take shape.

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I first found an old cupboard door at the Habitat for Humanity store (one of my new favorite places to shop) for $5.  Not too bad I’d say.  I also began looking for fun different knobs and drawer pulls.  Most of them I found at the same store for $.50 each.  Then today while wandering through Pier 1 and looking at their clearance tables I found some great fun knobs on clearance.  I was ready to begin.

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I first (with the help of my dad and a few of his power tools) drilled the holes into the door.  I wanted them to be random and not necessarily in rows or any design.

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I put on one coat of white spray paint.  After that was mostly dry (I’m not very patient sometimes) we used his electric sander to give it more of a rustic look.  We intentionally put knicks and dents in it as well.

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After all the knobs were arranged and bolted on, we had a problem with some of the bolts being way to long on the back.  Dad to the rescue.  He pulled out some sort of tool and ground off the back of the bolts.

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Those hands have been involved in making many beautiful creations and have given many of wonderful hugs to his little girl.  Very talented and gentle they are.

I then took it home and was ready to put some finishing touches on it.  The idea of chalkboard paint came because I felt like the board was too big for just jewelry and needed something to make it more unique.

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I taped it off and spray painted it with chalkboard paint.  As we have already established, I have an issue with patience when it comes to crafting.  I get very excited to see the final product and rush things a little.  I cheated and took out my hair dryer to get it ready to write on.  🙂

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I added one of my very favorite verses to the chalkboard part and was ready to hang it and add the jewlery.

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I absolutely love how this turned out.  One of the best parts for me is I can always add more knobs as needed and so my mission of finding cheap and unique drawer pulls is not over.  Also you may notice a couple of blank spaces.  Unfortunately a couple of the knobs broke in the process so I must go get more and fill in the holes.  Hmmmm back to Pier 1 tomorrow?  Why not?

Lord it’s in your h


Tonight I tackled a project that I have been wanting to do for a while.  I have had the materials, the ideas, the drive, even the time.  However I have a problem I must confess to you.  My best hours of operation are and always have been between 9:00 p.m. and 1:00 a.m.   I know, perfect for a teacher right?   This would explain why my body goes into shock the first couple weeks of school each year.  It’s similar to getting out of a hot tub and jumping into a freezing cold lake.  I put it through this several times every year.  At some point it is going to rebel and I will have to come up with a new plan, but for now great things are getting done while others are having a great sleep.

Back to the project…..  I have been noticing that the more demands that are put on me as far as all of the material that needs to be taught, the faster I talk and the more glazed my students’ looks become.  Last year I started trying to do a few things to improve my students’ engagement in the lessons I’m teaching.  For a couple of years I have used music a lot.  We have quick moments of dance parties or exercise breaks.  This helps, but it is just not enough.  So this year one of my goals is to really concentrate on making sure my students are engaged in my teaching.  Let’s admit it, everyone of us has a limit to our attention span and although I find myself quite entertaining I am aware that my students don’t find the same enjoyment from hearing my voice.  It is time to do something about this little problem.    It’s time for some brain breaks. I have been working on making a list of one minute activities that I can draw from a bucket when the eye glaze has taken over.  Of course I couldn’t just make a list, there had to be a cute way to display them. I have seen a couple of great ideas on pinterest that were my inspiration.  I loved this one and stuck with the idea of using craft sticks.  She also included a list of some of the activities that she used, she had some great ideas.  We have already established that I have a scrapbook paper addiction so anytime I can use some of it in a project I’m on it.

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I found a box of 300 craft sticks on clearance at the craft store. (Yes I know now I have to come up with 270 more projects for them but I like a sale).  I also found some wooden shapes, not on clearance but still very inexpensive.  Then of course my large supply of paper always comes in handy.

I began by tracing the shapes on the back of the scrapbook paper and cutting them out.  I used spray adhesive to apply it to the wooden shapes and sticks.

Side note:  I have a love/hate relationship with spray adhesive.  I love how it works and how quickly I can finish a project with it.  I hate the fact that my fingers will be glued together for the next 24hrs no matter how much soap and water I use. It’s a sacrifice I make for the sake of crafting.  Man life is tough. 🙂

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I then used my glue gun (I have nothing but love for this form of adhesive) to attach the sticks to the shapes.

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Okay here is where you use your imagination.  I then will use my label maker to label each one with an activity.  This way either myself or a student can draw out an activity for that break.  However my label maker is currently MIA.  This is very tragic, I have scoured high an low around the house for this very important teaching tool and no luck.  I am really hoping it is safely in place in my classroom and not gone for good. If it’s not there you may see missing posters popping up at stores near you.

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I found a basket at the dollar store that will work great for storing them through out the year.

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I’m looking forward to using this with my new group of kiddos.  I am still collecting a list of brain breaks to use but here are some that I have so far.

List of brain breaks

There are many more so I will post a list when I have finalized it.  However my window of 9-1:00 has run out and my pillow is calling.

Lord it’s in your hands!


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I was six days shy of my third birthday when my little brother Matt was born.  I don’t remember having any anticipation of him being born.  I don’t remember having any expectations, or the day he came home from the hospital.  I don’t remember holding him for the first time or looking at him.  I have no memories of a little baby crying in the other room or people coming to oooh and aww over our new addition.  As far as I remember he was always there, always my little brother, always Matt.

There is a well known essay called “Welcome to Holland.”  It was written by Emily Perl Kingsley in 1987.  She writes it to try and describe what it is like as a parent to give birth to a child with a disability.  I am not a parent and not a parent of a child with a disability, but I have always liked the way she describes it.  I find it a good explanation of what her experience was, going from what she had expected to what she received. I can’t speak from the experience of a parent, I can’t pretend to know what a parent would feel or the stages of grief and acceptance they would go through.  I write as a sibling, a sister.

If you followed the link to the essay above (it’s pretty short and well worth the read) you will understand what I mean when I say all I ever knew was Holland.  I didn’t know that Italy existed until I was older.  I didn’t know that Holland wasn’t the original destination.   I can still remember the moment I first was made aware that Matt might be “different” or that there might be something “wrong” with him.  I was in the third grade and my mom and Matt had come to pick my older brother and I up at school.  He was always quick to give hugs, whether he knew you or not, you were going to get a hug and a big one at that.  On the playground with a friend, I saw them coming and thought nothing of it.  As could be expected he ran up to her and gave her a giant hug.  She didn’t hesitate at all but quickly pushed him away and said “EWWW”.  I didn’t get it at first.  Was he dirty?  Did he need to wash his face?  Had he eaten something sticky?  He was a little boy after all. Then it sunk in….she had pushed him away because he had Down Syndrome.  She had pushed him away because there was something “wrong” with him, because he was “different.”  It was the first time in my life I remember noticing that he was downs.  I was shattered.  Everything had changed.  Everything was wrong.   Or did it?  Was it?  Had anything really changed at all?

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Down Syndrome is often described as a “chromosomal accident”.   There is no known cause, although there are higher risk factors, it just happens. Something occurs at conception and a person has an extra chromosome # 21.  It is just an accident. Or is it?  I dare anyone who ever meets my brother to look at him and call him an accident.  He is very much on purpose.

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The name Matthew means gift from God.  Ask anyone in our family and I would think that is the word you would hear over and over again used to describe him.  A gift.  Matt is covered in the fingerprints of God.  He is fearfully and wonderfully made.  Psalms 139:14.  I look at him and I can see he is exactly what God wanted for him to be.  I believe that God looked at our family and knew exactly what we needed to complete us.  I can’t imagine the mess we would be without him.  From the moment he was placed in my parents arms, from the moment the doctor told my parents they should consider putting him in an institution, from the moment they knew life would never be the same, from that moment we have been blessed.  I can tell you from watching my parents all my life, that having a child with a disability is a challenge, it can bring great heartache, intense worry, questions of the unknown, an uncertain future and it can bring you to your knees in prayer.  Then I am sure I brought all of that to my parents as well. I could never thank my parents enough for loving him as they loved us.  For giving him the guidance and structure he needed while understanding the way he thought or functioned.  For forgiving him for cutting snake skin boots in half because they said they were too big.  They were extremely fair with all of us which is so different than being equal.  They knew what each of us needed, when we needed it.  We were all unique, different in our own way.  They never made Matt standout as their “special” child.  He was one of their three loved and treasured children.  His sense of adventure and lack of fear may have produced a few more gray hairs than my brother and I but he was there child.  To this day their care for him, enjoyment of him, love for him, adjustment to his needs, and sacrifice for him as they have always done inspires me.

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I can also tell you that Matt has brought unmeasurable joy.  He didn’t come in the package that maybe we all thought he would come in.  He wasn’t what was expected or what was planned for.  He wasn’t everything that we as a family hoped for.  He was more.  So much more.

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I have always said that if I could have just half the heart that he has I would be blessed.  I have never seen a more true picture of unconditional love.  He is accepting of all.  To the point of us having to build fears into him for his own safeties sake.  He is passionate. He loves deeply, fully, unconditionally.  When Skylar was voted off American Idol last season he wept with pure devastation.  His heart hurt because his heart loved.  He is silly and funny.  He loves to play jokes on people and has a laugh that will make you giggle from the inside out.  He is impressionable and wants to be just like his big brother.  Which is  always a great thing to be. He is careful and meticulous.  He is set in his ways and routine and likes things just so.  He is tender and caring and hates to see others hurting.  He wants to be famous and believes that he will be some day.  His greatest dream is to be a college football coach and  he often practices his speeches to the team on the back porch.  He is a country singer at heart who will one day have his own album. But for now sings to us on our birthdays and special occasions.  A performance he will spend all day practicing.  Those performances may make small animals run for cover but they make our hearts swell with pride and our eyes fill with tears.

He is an example of forgiveness.  He is able to quickly and completely forgive others no matter what they have done to him.  I long to be a person who can forgive the same way.

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Every football player who looks at the tv camera and smiles, is smiling and talking to him. He is NFL’s biggest fan.   He can tell you every player that is traded or drafted.  He knows every time a player or former player passes away.  He grieves for them.  When his team wins he is ecstatic, when they lose he is crushed.  NFL draft weekend is bigger than or as big as Christmas.  He loves to give gifts and receive them.  Anytime a family member has a birthday I can expect a call asking me to take him shopping for a gift.  He also wants you to open his gift last and he can’t wait for you to give him a hug and tell him thank you.

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He loves kids and I believe he has a gift with them.  He is the very proud uncle of four amazing little boys. He loves them tenderly and deeply and they love him.  He doesn’t like them to get out of line and likes to keep them safe.  He worries about them and will tattle to their parents if they are doing something unsafe.  He will hug them and hold them, but is afraid to carry them up and down stairs for fear he will drop them.  He will teach them how to play sports and joke around with them.  He will hold their hands as they cross a street or walk through a store.  He loves to show off their pictures and tell stories on them.  He gets excited when they come for a visit.

He is an amazing brother to my older brother Scott, his wife Wendi and myself.  We are proud of him, honored to know him and blessed to have learned from him.  He has helped to shape who we are and has given us more joy and laughter then we could ask for.  He is in many ways the heart of our family.  At times I let my mind wander to what it will be like when he is no longer with us.  But it hurts too much, I can’t breath, I can’t imagine it, I don’t think I could live through it.  Then I am reminded I can worry about that day or live in this one.  He’s here, he’s vibrant, he’s fun, he’s loving……he’s here.  God knew what we needed when he gave him to us and he knows what we will need when we don’t have him on earth anymore.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am the person I am today in large part due to him and his presence in my life.  He has taught me to love more, trust deeper, dream bigger, laugh louder, smile wider, cry more freely, teach more gracefully, pray more faithfully and hurt more completely.  When he hurts I hurt, when he struggles I ache, but when he smiles my heart smiles with him.  To say I am proud of him is the understatement of the century.  I am proud of him not because he has Down syndrome, because his disability doesn’t define him.  I’m not proud of him because he is “different.”   I am proud of him because he is Matt, because of his heart, because of his joy, because of his love, because of his forgiveness.  I am proud of him because he is.  I hope each day to be more and more like him and I hope that I can make him proud as I strive to be the woman of God that God wants me to be.

I’ll never find the words to thank him for all he is in my life.  I’ll never have the words to tell God thank you for choosing us,  for choosing me.  I am the luckiest girl in the world, because of him.  I love him and I hope the world knows how much better it is because Matthew Allen is in it.

Lord it’s in your hands!

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One of the things I love most about where I live is the weather.  We have four very distinct seasons.  With temperatures ranging between -10 degrees and 110 degrees, snow, rain, hail, thunderstorms and amazingly beautiful blue skies with dazzling sunshine how could you not love that?  I know that there are people who would be happy to have nothing but sunshine all year round.  I say to them “go find it.”

This last week we have had over 100 degree temps with the most beautiful blue skies and bright sunshine.  I love it, I do, bright skies, lots of light, tan skin, kids in the local swimming pool, my lawn a foot high because I refuse to mow it while melting into a puddle of mush, yet I still water it because the lawn must be green.  Yes summer is amazing here.  However as this last week as gone on I find myself longing for the fall to come.

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I’m not sure what it is that I love the most but late September through December is truly my favorite time of year.  I am sure it has something to do with the start of a new school year, a clean slate, a fresh start.  But it is so much more than that.  Cool crisp air, leaves changing colors, football after church on Sunday, driving in the mountains with my mouth agape because I can’t believe God is allowing me to witness this beauty and creation.  Jeans and sweatshirts, cuddle up on the couch with a blanket, a fire in the fireplace, rain showers against the windows (we don’t get much rain around here so it’s a treat).  I am so looking forward to this this year especially.  I feel like I missed most of it last year, at least missed enjoying it to the fullest.  I am so ready to embrace each moment, enjoy it to fullest and never forget to thank God for allowing me to live through it.

We have been studying Genesis in church lately.  We have all read and know that God created the world in six days and on the seventh he rested.  We know he looked on his creation and said “it is good.”  I think sometimes we glance over it and although we acknowledge that he created everything, do we really look at the intricacies of that creation.  Take something as simple as the trees.  Now look deeply into the tree and what  happens to it in the fall.  Those trees that have been brown and green all year suddenly change in the fall, something magical happens.  The  leaves become the brightest  most vibrant colors of red, orange, brown, and even pink.  Those leaves fall off the trees not by some horrible accident but with the intent of new life coming to that tree in the spring.  Talk about an intense attention to detail in creation and that is just one little thing in the vastness of this world.  It truly amazes me!

I think I am even more excited about it this year because I really feel excitement for what God has in store for me.  I don’t know what it is, I don’t know when it will happen but I find my heart filled with joy just waiting for what is in store.  If it is only the fall crisp air, football on Sundays, and blanket snuggling, I am more than thankful.

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It’s in your hands Lord!!

Romans 15:13

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”


For the last four or five years I have planned to make something for my students for the first day of school.  The problem always came that I waited until the last week before school and as you can imagine there were many other things that would come up.  It always came to the last night before school and I would have to say, “I just don’t have the time.”  However this year I have planned ahead, amazing how that always helps!  Earlier this summer I saw an idea on pinterest that I wanted to give a try.  One of the places I saw this idea was at this website http://blackberryvine.blogspot.com/2010/08/back-to-school-treat.html. Rollo pencils!!

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Things you will need:

Packages of Rollo’s candies

Hershey’s kisses

3 1/2 X 4 1/2 inch piece of yellow paper

1 X 3 1/2 inch piece of pink paper

1 inch pink circle

Small amount of tinfoil

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I used a glue gun to attach all of the different pieces.  It worked very well, however I burned off the tips of nearly all my fingers.  (I’m thinking tape would be less hazardous.)

Attach the Hershey kiss to one end of the Rollo pack.

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Put on the pink end circle as well as the 1 inch piece on the opposite end of the Rollo’s.

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Next wrap the yellow paper around the middle of the roll.  I wrote on mine first, but you wouldn’t need to put on a message at all if you don’t want to.

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The last thing that I added was a small amount of tinfoil around the bottom of the eraser.

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I really like how these turned out.  I hope they bring smiles to my nervous 3rd graders on the first day of school.

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Note to self……my next project will not involve a glue gun!

It’s in the Lord’s hands!