Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Why I Teach

There are those moments, though few, when the parent emails arrive and the politics arise, that I feel like I need to re-evaluate why I do what I do and what exactly it is that I am. And then there are the good moments, and the good days, where I forget the emails, I forget the politics and I think of the kids; I remember who I need to be and often, who I am:

I am a talent scout,

I am a life coach,

and I am a character builder.

I teach acceptance,

I teach responsibility,

I teach empathy,

and somewhere along the way, I teach English.

I teach for the kids who don't have a mom or who don't have a dad. I teach for the kids who have to walk two or three miles home or take the city bus for an hour to get home. I teach for the kids who, when they get home, no one is there. When students leave my room, I want them to KNOW that I cared about who they are now and who they will be in the future. I try to take a genuine interest in their outside activities and make an effort to use examples in my lessons that parallel these activities. I realize the importance and need to connect with my student first before they can connect to the curriculum. I often remind myself of 1 Peter 4:10-11 in my teaching:

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

I remind myself that God should be glorified in my teaching. I am not perfect, I make mistakes, and I will fail at times, but with God’s guidance and His glorification as my goal, I just might make some right choices too.

I have learned, in my limited experience, that teaching is not about the essay. It is not just about the test or getting the ‘A.’ It is not just about the academic lessons -- it is about the life lessons. I want my students to know that they are accepted in my class. Maybe that is achieved by encouraging the quiet students to join the club or be a part of the group; maybe it is by motivating the less academic students to use their art or speaking talent in my class, highlighting their strengths, and making them feel like an expert in something that shows them their potential.

Because, sometimes it only takes one person to believe in you to change your world.

So, when the end of the quarter comes and the parent and student emails begin and they ask me why I ‘gave’ certain grades or could I please give them some last minute extra credit? I remind myself:

It’s not about the essay.

And it’s not about the ‘A.’

School is just as much about life as it is about academics.

And so

I will continue to teach character.

I will continue to teach kindness,


Hard work,


Love and


And somewhere along the way, I will also teach English.


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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014: Make the Most of It

Christmas has come and gone...
The year is over,
flown by, really,
in a whirl,
as a new year begins
and the never ending theme and thought
that runs through my head is
how fast time passes.

We've all read about the unimportance of material gifts
and the ever growing importance of time,
And each year, as I get older
I realize my Christmas list gets shorter
because the things I really want
can't be bought
from a store
Or ordered online anymore.
That life means more...

This year I gave my grandma something I couldn't really create –
but only give back to her
that which she earned:
Her memories.
Her time.
Her experiences. 

Those can't be replaced or replicated any longer,
only remembered,
in old,
weathered photos,
with cracks and frays and
fancy cursive letters
written with care
by a 20,
40 year old
woman, mom and grandmother
who was writing her memories there;
and how her eyes reflected the joy of those times
and her voice quivered in sharing the moments with us.

And it hit me.
And I realized,
really solidified,
that no gift I have ever gotten
or will ever receive
will replace the time and moments
I have yet
to experience.
That I have the opportunity
to create
those moments,
and not regret
that time is passing.
That it will pass,
whether I make something out of it,
or not.

And that the memories created
in moments like this
with kids
with family
are priceless
and can't be bought..

2014 gives us an opportunity to start fresh. To develop deeper friendships, to be intentional in the time we share and be a presence in the lives of our kids and those we love.

This year, my word for 2014 is experiences.

Make the most of it! What's your word for 2014?

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 10 Posts of 2013

 This time of year, I love reflecting on all the changes and growth we had in 2013 -- in life and on the blog. Thank you so much for following along and reading what I have to share. This space has been a creative outlet for me and, I hope, a springboard into some exciting changes in 2014!!

Here are the Top 10 Posts - thanks to YOU! - of 2013.

10. Spring Twig Wreath

9. Chalkboard Sign Makeover

8. DIY Washer Pendants

7. Personalized Valentine's Day Fortune Cookies {Insert your own message into a fortune cookie? Yes, you can!}

6. Garage Organization - sport's equipment {This one won the "Man Approved" Award!} ;o)

5. What I Wore - <>>What I Wore Collection

4. Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas

3. Mini-Man Cave {This one is my personal favorite, because my boys and their friends use it every day!}

2. Frozen Inspired Christmas Wreath

1. Medal Display {This one is another personal favorite - I hope to add another medal to this display in January!}

 Thanks again for reading and following along!! Did you write a 2013 post? Share it with me in the comments or on Facebook! {Links below!}


Sharing here: The Foley Family Unedited
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Friday, December 20, 2013

Last Minute Gift Ideas {That Keep on Giving!}

 I don't know about you, but the holidays have crept up so suddenly, I'm still trying to keep up! In fact, just when I *think* I'm done shopping, I remember one more person to shop for or one more gift I need! Does that sound familiar? And, let's face it, braving the stores this weekend is not at the top of a busy mom's list!

So here are some, hopefully easy, gift solutions for ANYONE on your list that are
1. Easy to get/give last minute
2. Will keep you out of the stores!!

What are these amazing ideas?

1. Coffee or Tea of the Month Club
If you have a tea or coffee lover in the family, how about a "Tea of the Month" club? Most subscriptions aren't too pricey and it gives the opportunity for your friend or family member to try out new flavors risk - free! I recently bought one from this shop that seemed to have a lot of choices for any tea lover on your list!

2. Magazine Subscription
The possibilities are endless on this one! There are magazines for almost any interest and Magazine.com has hundreds (maybe thousands) of choices and a lot of great deals! I just got my son a Popular Mechanics subscription for only $6.99! Woot!

3. Cooking Classes
Hopefully your friend won't take this as a hint. lol Hey, they have classes for two, which would make a great date night, maybe someone would be inspired by a cake decorating or sushi class - and they even have culinary classes for kids for the budding chef in your family! Again - lots of possibilities! Sur La Table has classes all over the United States but check your area for your local cooking schools. Sometimes your local bakery may even have a monthly baking/lesson night! The best part is -- you usually get to eat what you make! Yum!

4. Give them the gift of Adventure!!
One year I got the gift to go zip lining!! It was SO much fun! I'm a firm believer that experiences are more powerful than tangible gifts sometimes. If you have an adventurous friend or family member this is the gift for them! Maybe zip lining isn't their thing - maybe it's bungee jumping, canoeing, rafting, sky diving {eek!}, stand up paddle boarding or simply anything that they've never done but always wanted to try. That's what zip lining was for me. The experience only lasted one day - but the memories will last forever!!

5. Donate to a Charity in their name
If your friend has a charity you know they support, this is the perfect opportunity to support your friend and their cause!! This is also the perfect gift for the 'person who has everything.' There are lots of charities to choose from, and if you're not sure what to choose, here are two of my favorites:

Supporting the education, teacher training, early childhood development and charitable needs of Malawi, Africa. (Yes, that's me in the pic from a trip there a few years ago.) :o)

Amor Ministries
Amor builds houses in rural areas of Mexico. They always welcome support too!!

If you still like your recipient to unwrap something - you could give the tea of the month club with a tin of tea, or the magazine subscription with the first issue of the magazine, or wrap a rolling pin for the cooking class!!

What do you think? Was this list helpful? Are you done with your Christmas shopping yet?

Happy Holidays!!!

Linking up here: Tatertots and Jello

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Chalkboard Sign Makeover {Let it Snow}

Let it Snow! .... Or not.... ;-)

 I"m a Southern California girl and I like to talk about snow, but let's face it, I'd be a big baby if I ever had to live in it! {Do you live in snow? I admire you!}

I recently saw one of the best winter sayings I have seen this year and I just HAD to make a sign out of it:

Ha! "Let it Snow -- somewhere else" still makes me laugh. :o)

To make this sign happen, I converted this old flower patterned chalkboard sign (cute, but I have boys!)

 into a festive holiday chalkboard sign by simply adhering wrapping paper to cover the flowers!

I knew I just wanted something quick and temporary for the season,and wrapping paper was perfect! Plus, the colors match my new "Frozen" inspired wreath. Here's my little sign sitting above my kitchen cabinets:

After Christmas, I would like to redo this little sign and cover the flower pattern with something more permanent. Maybe fabric? Burlap? What would you use? 


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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Frozen Inspired Christmas Wreath

My family and I recently saw the movie Frozen. I thought it was a lot of fun, and the music -- WOW! {I'm a huge Idina Menzel fan though!} I also loved all the icy color tones and cool blues. It inspired me to make this Christmas wreath:

 I love the brightness of the wreath and how it can be a Christmas wreath and hang out on my door all winter long!

Making this wreath was actually very simple. I always try to reuse resources when I craft and found this old Spring wreath in my craft cupboard:

The pastels in this wreath seemed outdated for my decor so I gave it a new life with some white spray paint! As a final "Frozen" touch I added some small glittery ornament balls and the blue bow:

I'm working on my whole entryway now - I added a glittery nose to my reindeer and am looking for an Olaf snowman to sit next to him. For now, this little snowman can sit in:

I'm inspired to make the rest of my house as frosty as this wreath! What do you think?

 Have you seen the movie Frozen yet? What colors do you like to decorate with for the holidays? 

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Linking up at tatertots & jello and here: 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Teenage Birthday Party

It's official: I have a teenager at my house!
This makes me both happy and sad, as I miss my little pint sized boy but am excited for the young man he is growing up to be. My blog has been quiet as we've been living life and celebrating these moments together. Turning 13 was a milestone for him and a reminder to me: I realize more and more how present I want to be in their lives, how fast it goes by and I feel full. My cup runneth over and it seems once I hit these moments I finally feel ready to write again and share some of what we've been up to and crafts I've fit in between.

So, here is a little window into how we celebrated his special day. In addition to family parties, I asked him, if he could only do one thing for his birthday, what would it be? He said he wanted to go Go Kart Racing at a nearby track. A grown up track. That went fast. I hope this isn't indicative of his future driving desires - but for this day, he got his wish. Some pictures of his day are below!

Birthdays at our house always start the night before. I decorate the table special for the birthday boy, there is a small present to unwrap and I write him a letter, just to him, about how special I think he is and the ways I have seen him grow this year. They never ask if they are getting a present in the morning, but they always ask if they are going to get their letter. It's a tradition I'm so glad they enjoy. Do you have a birthday tradition like this with your family?

Then it was off to Go Kart Racing!!

One of my favorite parts of the party was the cake HE picked out! It was an XBox cake with chocolate cake and caramel frosting inside. My friends at Twinfully Sweet made it for us and they exceeded our expectations!! If you're in Southern California, I HIGHLY recommend these girls for any party!! As you can see, the Xbox cake ROCKED!

I thought these cookies looked like they had tire tracks across them. The boys did too. Everything was a hit!

It's still surreal that I have a 13 year old...

{Me surprising him at school -- I take my parental job of embarrassing him VERY seriously.} ;o)

As tough as it is to please a teenager {wink}, he had a great time, great food, great friends and everyone left feeling like a winner!

Thanks for reading! Do you have a teenager at home? What activities do they enjoy? What birthday traditions do you do in your family?

Check back tomorrow as I share my first official Christmas craft of the season! {Inspired by the movie Frozen - you don't want to miss it!}

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