The reason play-dough makes me pause

ingredients for play doughAs a preschool teacher, one of the “Rights of Passage” is being able to make play dough. This gooey mixture of flour, salt, oil, water, food coloring, and cream of tartar is an art form all its own. No matter how perfect my measurements, it never comes out the same every time.

This tool is used to create all sorts of imaginary friends, foods, and creatures.

As I begin the undertaking of making play dough, I find it best to be prepared for each step. Making a plan for myself, I thoughtfully lay out my ingredients, careful to measure according to the recipe, knowing my outcome will be different from the last time, no matter what. Instead of being frustrated by this, I embrace it, regardless.messy play dough

The steps of this process are specific, and if one is missed, it can leave you totally exasperated with a big mess on your hands.

The same can be said of being a preschool teacher. Each child is a little different. They all have their basic needs which are the same: food, water, shelter, safety (thanks to  Abraham Maslow).maslow's heirarchy of needs Each comes from a different home, and a different background. No two will turn out the same. We need to take the time to look, read the history that parents provide us, and truly listen to student and parent when they talk.

It is easy to look at the play dough recipe and rush through the process, skipping integral steps along the way. Sometimes, this can be done, and the turn out is good play dough. Other times, this is done, and leaves you with a liquid or crumbly mess.  The same can be said of parents and teachers. Sometimes we want that next step to be here. We crave knowing when they will sleep through the night, roll over, walk, say mama, be potty trained, write their name, read a book, go to high school, go to college. It often feels like life is a series of next steps. When we look at the next step too much, we may be unable to see the simple steps being taken in the right now.

perfect play doughWhen play dough is made correctly it is soft but firm, is not sticky, has a smooth consistency, and can be used to teach little fingers how to pinch, roll, and make a mistake and then move on from it. It also can be used to create a masterpiece, left to dry and become concrete, and given as a present that will become a memory for a lifetime.

The same can be said about teaching. If it is done correctly, it is soft, but firm, not attached, but loving, and will teach little minds to think, be confident, Make connections, and move on from trials with grace. It also will create a pattern of memories that will become concrete in thinking, reading, and dealing with others that will last a lifetime.

Play dough and teaching go hand in hand.

creative play doughNow I am beginning to understand how this once bane of my existence as a preschool teacher is a tool that has helped me to become a better teacher.

love play doughWhen I work with a student, I am always looking for the right consistency to use with them. I have to stop, look at the recipe, and make sure I am not skipping any steps. This isn’t always easy.  It requires planning, reflection, and implementation. Reflection as a teacher is key to helping my students succeed, and learning about their family, home, and past helps me realize which ingredients have already been added so I can mix appropriately, kneed the dough of their beautiful young minds, and help them create those memories which become learned to shape their future.

It is not about the product but the process!
It is not about the product but the process!

What life lesson could you learn from a simple recipe?

Play dough – cookies – brownies – stew – lasagna -fudge

Share with me, so we can all learn from each others life lessons!

Blog it Forward

cropped-mamaisonlyhuman-blog-label-1.jpgI logged into facebook tonight and was greeted by a beautiful challenge from a friend. It was not directed at me, but when Chelley posts something that touches my heart, I try to respond.

Well today’s message was striking as it was about giving back.

We try to give back often, and visibly for the boys. At Christmas time it can be hard to keep the giving spirit for them when everyone is asking them what they want. My boys always do something for their teachers every year. A gift card, a hand made present, a picture they drew.  This year we did something completely different.

The boys were asking about the children we sponsor, and how to help them. They were asking on the day we received the catalog for Christmas giving. They looked through it more vigourosly than the Toy ads. They decided on three rabbits, money for education in the US, money for education outside of the US, seeds for one family to plant a harvest, and four soccer balls. These gifts will go to children who live in places where poverty is flourishing. These gifts will be the first of many.

The boys wrote notes to their teachers letting them know the donations that were made in their honor.   To my surprise, the teachers responded happily, and with notes of true gratitude. My boys came home with  such joy that their presents made their teachers happy. They couldn’t wait to give again.

They obviously do not have such a giving spirit every day. I hope this small teaching moment, repeated often, will allow them to see the good they can do for others.

It is not just money though. reminding them to hold doors, use their manners, and be respectful are just as important. I pray that if they see someone struggling with a bag, finding change, or even with a dead battery on the side of the road, that they will use available resources to help that person.

How can you give back? Pay it forward? What will you do?

 

I am challenging Lisa who has three boys like me. We have known each other for almost 10 years, and truly live parallel lives. We even share a birthday! We both love to give to others, and I know she will be willing to blog it forward!

 

I am also challenging Paula who is someone new to me. She follows my blog, comments, and seems to be working hard to overcome her fears and struggles with working out. I am sure she will take the challenge to pay it forward!

Feel free to join me and many other bloggers in “blogging it forward”

Head Here to see how you can help!

 

Happy holiday season!

Love,

Melendy

 

when the moment to pause arrives

peace in the momentI stopped in to Target last Thursday to grab nylons for a dinner on Friday.

I of course grabbed a few other things, and I headed to the line to check out. There was a shorter line with a man as a cashier, and a longer line with a woman. I stopped and waited in the longer line. There were two women in front of me with overflowing carriages, and me with 6 items. As I stepped up, the woman in front of me was unloading her carriage, but offered to let me step in front of her.

It was sweet.

I declined.

Strange as it is, I enjoy waiting. It teaches me patience and gives me a moment to just be.

She almost insisted, and I again declined. We had a brief conversation about life (as you do in line at Target) and I expected her to turn away and put her things on the belt.

She did,for a moment. Then, like we were long lost college roommates, we kept talking. Other people came to the line. Calls for more cashiers rang out.  A few offered to help me. I declined, and asked the person behind me to go ahead.

People think I am strange when I do this.

My comment was, ” Thank you, but she and I have a relationship now.  I can’t abandon her!” Laughter from the cashier now too.

She was in our tribe now.

The conversation continued

Life

Husbands

children

work

saying “Yes” to too many things this time of year

How next year we will RSVP “NO” to everything we are invited to.

How I always forget to use Cartwheel

How she is worried about getting everything in with a sleeping family at home

How she has 1% left on her phone

We cheered as the cashier completed the order before her phone died so she could get her Cartwheel points, and then, she packed up.

I said happy Holidays

And she was gone

Two lives

Never before met

Never to meet again

But for a moment

Two moms at Target had a moment to laugh, and relate, and realize we all do this. not a one of us stands alone in this motherhood game. working, stay at home, separated, divorced. we all are moms, and we all will be at the store at 10:45 to get whatever is needed because well, that is what moms do. Our lives were parallel. In that moment we realized: We are not alone.

It was 10:45 at night, and truthfully, I felt bad she was going home to a house of sleeping family. Lugging the carriage full of gifts and necessities into the house alone. I wished I could help, but that was not the plan.

I am most grateful for this moment of laughter with a stranger in the checkout line because it reminded me to pause, be still, and listen!

Too often in life we are in a hurry. We want the fastest check out. The least distraction from our day. The easiest path. But how often do we miss the moments to laugh with the PERSON in front of us in line because we both are buying control top pantyhose or push up bras? How often do we miss the chance to lament our children’s wants, that they list as needs? How often do we make the cashier feel rushed to finish our shopping, forgetting that that same cashier will do their shopping from what is left over because it is so hard to shop when you work retail?

In this season of hustle and bustle it is all too easy to rush. To make haste. To be aggravated with humanity instead of enthralled with the season of wonder and love.

merry christmas to me

What moments have you had this holiday season that have reminded you to pause?

the pause button

the top is a hidden mickey in our resort, the bottom is water drops by the pool, it is not a hidden mickey.
the top is a hidden mickey in our resort, the bottom is water drops by the pool, it is not a hidden mickey.

Here in Disney there is a thing called Hidden Mickeys. This is a “secret” mission to find all of the Mickeys hidden around the theme parks and the resorts. These were purposely put in place by “imagineers” for guests to find.  The rules are very clear, it has to be intentional, it has to be hidden (not a Mickey face on your cupcake), and it has to be proportionate. Easy? No, not at all. Some can be. Some I know exist, and I have looked and looked for them and have never found it.

It takes patience to look. Stopping in one place for a few moments and searching. While searching it is nice to breathe in the atmosphere that was so carefully assembled for you.
Much like searching for those little gems, searching for peace in your family can take time, patience, and stepping back to breathe.

a snail and a very tiny lizard we saw on a walk at our resort
a snail and a very tiny lizard we saw on a walk at our resort

The boys have discovered many little creatures and a few big ones while here. From a tiny lizard to an alligator, we have seen a lot of things. We also have seen each other. I watched my oldest pick up my youngest so that he could return his towel. I watched my middle put his last three quarters into a video game for his brother, I have watched the youngest find independence in the pool.

all my boys gaming.
all my boys gaming.

I have enjoyed a trip where we did not have to be anywhere at any given time. I find that there are moments when I want to rush, I want them to just go, and I forget that they need to stop and pause and take it in.

As adults we rush. We have deadlines and responsibilities. We feel a sense of urgency about everything. Often we impose those senses of urgency on our children. Often I forget that there is no reason to rush when we are away from home. I want to pause. I want to stop and take a moment to see what they see.

watching the water raise and the sorcerer light up at mini golf
watching the water raise and the sorcerer light up at mini golf

In pausing, I am finding moments I never saw. The way they play, the way they fight, what they worry about, and what they need. I am seeing the communication breakdown between them, and I am able to step in and give advice when needed. I am able to lift them up when they are unsure. I am able to ask them to step back when they overstep (mostly the pre-teen). I am grateful for a pause in our lives to see these things.

All three boys sat on the sidewalk to watch the fireworks. I have never seen them just sit. It was also nice because my parents are here as well.
All three boys sat on the sidewalk to watch the fireworks. I have never seen them just sit. It was also nice because my parents are here as well.

I am also grateful for the ability to see these while in our favorite place. Today we leave this place and head to a resort on the ocean. A resort where our options are beach or pool. A resort where all we will do is pause, and I am so excited to stop, breathe in, and find the details.