Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas

Our Christmas letter went out a little late this year. I'm guessing many of you received our photo card and letter a few days after Christmas. This year's photo card required more schedule coordinating than I imagined. Both boys had jobs and were either working evenings or weekends.

Dugger was hired at Taco Bell this fall and works several evenings a week. T-Man was hired at a local nursery as a Christmas temp. This entailed working the day after Thanksgiving and all the weekends leading up to Christmas. (At Thanksgiving, I was immensely thankful that both boys were gainfully employed.) T-Man predominately helped people select Christmas trees. We're hoping this was good training for one day heading to Washington State and helping his uncle and aunt sell Christmas tree from their Christmas tree farm.

Our photo idea for 2010 was to take a picture outdoors at a picturesque site on our local walking trail. I had the bright idea of us each wearing a sweatshirt that represent our schools. I even thought that T-Man could unveil his college selection by announcing it on his sweatshirt. His college decision-making process has been a lengthy up and down journey and he's still mulling over his options, alas no unveiling. With our days together sparse and frigid temperatures dominating, we were struggling to get our photo taken.

So with Christmas right around the corner, a new idea had begun to take shape in my mind. What is the absolute one thing all the Hatches love to do? READ! How about an indoor picture by the Christmas tree with each of us holding our most favorite book. However, I have lots of favorite books. Just ask my kindergartners, "Ms Hatch yesterday you said that book was your favorite."

As four of the five Hatches were riding in the van headed for the last day of school before Christmas break. The question of when, where, and by whom are we going to get our Christmas card picture taken. I mentioned the book idea. Doug thought of the favorite Christmas book idea. In posing the question, What is your favorite Christmas book? Doug, T-Man and Mimi answered, "The Year of The Perfect Christmas Tree". I was thinking this isn't going to be too good if we all have the same book. How will that represent a wealth of Christmas memories?

Yet in some ways this answer was not surprising since Doug and I have been reading this book to the kids since Dugger was a toddler. It has been a family tradition to read this story during the Christmas season. For several years Doug would go to Mimi's class at school and read the story to the class.

Doug and I know the author; Doug having worked with Gloria Houston for many years at USF and it's a wonderful story. The story is based on Gloria's family and is set in the Appalachian Mountains. Before the father goes off to war, he shows his daughter, Ruthie, the tree their family will provide their church with for Christmas. He ties her red hair ribbon to the top of the tree so they will recognize it later. It was the tradition that a member of the congregation would provide the Christmas tree. With dad off at war, Ruthie and her mom trek off to chop down the tree and take it to the church. Ruthie's mom makes Ruthie an "angel" dress for the Christmas Pageant from her wedding dress. In true Christmas style many blessing are bestowed on the family that night.

When Mimi was going to be the angel in our "Instant Christmas" at church, she crawled into my lap on December 23rd and asked if I would make her a dress just like Ruthie's with long flowing sleeves. I almost said yes. I yearned to say yes, but as I looked up from our mother-daughter cuddle I could see Doug shaking his head and mouthing, " Are you crazy!". I got the point and didn't make the dress. Luckily the church committee had a lovely costume with long flowing sleeves perfect for an angel.

With excitement brewing, Doug asked if I could get four copies of the book (We have our copy at home, making five.) I thought I could round up four copies between the librarian and other teachers. Now where to take the photo. Duh... Where else but a library! I envisioned one of those READ posters. The Hatches own READ poster.

Our librarian at school has painstakingly decorated our library for the Christmas season for more years than I've been at the school. She calls it the Enchanted Forest. Among other books she reads another of my favorites, The Polar Express to the children each year and gives them a sleigh bell. Another wonderful tradition. This would be a great setting for the photo.

Hopping out of the van on the last day of school, I ran down the hallways hunting for those early arriving teachers. Two rooms down I found two teachers each with multiple copies of The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree. I then began my hunt for the librarian to make sure we could take our picture in the library after school that day. With my mission accomplished, I called Doug and told him we were a go. Round up the kids, grab our book, bring me some make-up, and meet me in my room at 3:30.

I forgot that I had a meeting right after school. The meeting was wrapping up as the family arrived. They headed to the library with my friend and teaching assistant who would take the picture for us (as she's done for the last eight years). As I was running late and didn't want to keep my friends after school too late (especially on the last day), I let go of my vanity and dispensed with make-up. So what you get is our most impromptu and au natural state of being. This is a true glimpse of life with the Hatch family.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Mimi's Room

As my summer came to a close with the return to school, I surveyed my accomplishments for the summer. While many left me with a sense of pride and satisfaction, I realized that once again I had failed to accomplish all I hoped. In recent years I have parred back my summer to do list with the hopes of having a list that can be realistically completed. Alas, not so for this year.

I made a new resolve to try to spend a bit of time each evening working on some of those incomplete or no-start projects. It's that idea of taking baby steps instead of moving full force day and night to complete a project. I would just dedicate a little bit of affordable time each day until the task was completed.

The one unfinished project closest to completion was Mimi's room. I needed to finish redecorating it. In the summer of 2009, as Doug headed out of town, I threw open the windows and pulled out the paint. To paint I had packed up all of Mimi's knick knacks and remove the shelving. I took down the curtains and drywall patched a hole left from repeated curtain rod hanging. In two or three days I had her walls painted. The boys helped me rearrange the furniture so many times that they actually had the audacity to tell me they would move stuff only one more time, so I'd better make up my mind. That was the end of the redecorating for 2009.

With renewed vigor in the summer of 2010, I thought I'd get Mimi's room finished. I'd bought curtains in the winter that needed tweaking, needed new rods (as I had mixture of metals on the original set), and the light blue wave shelves that hung on her wall did not match her new decor; so yes in true HGTV fashion I decided to repaint the shelves. This way I could get the two boxes of knick knacks up off the floor of Mim's room. At least painting is an area for which I have much experience. I sanded the shelves, primed them, and began their finish coat. Then the summer heat came bearing down and the dust flew as road work commenced outside our house. So the shelves were shelved so to speak.

So with cooler temperatures in September, I pulled the shelves back out and turned the garage into my work room. I re-sanded the shelves and continued with the finish coats of paint. Once dry they were ready for the wall.That led to placing Mimi's wall decorations back on the wall. She and I also had a fun evening adding wall clings that we had bought on T-Man's college visit to Michigan State. With curtain rods ordered we were well on our way to finishing off her room. Ready for the big reveal....

The comforter doesn't exactly fit the design, however I like the green stripes with all the other color. I debate between ordering a duvet cover or not. I plan to make her a quilt in the near future with fabrics that will complement the room color. We'll see what happens.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Leading Two Lives

In August I was offered the opportunity to teach a course at our local university. With one child in college, another heading off to college in the fall, and a dancer with competitions, private lessons, costumes, and shoes I couldn't ignore this offer. In addition this course covers just the type of information I enjoy teaching, Human Growth and Development. In my excitement to earn extra money and work with adult learners, I had forgotten how rigorous and time consuming it is to prep a course you have never taught before. Although the subject matter was very familiar the course structure was new.

Instead of teaching college courses the last several years, I was paid to offer technological delivery advise, design, and build web based courses to professors' specifications. While this offered it own challenges it was vastly different from teaching a class to adults. I found myself working hard to to stay ahead of my college students.

I was fortunate to have some very generous professors share their textbook (until I got mine), assignment ideas, requirements, and PowerPoints. Even with all that help from August through the end of October I spent time every evening working on my course or working on my kindergarten class and professional demands.

While juggling a college course and my kindergarten class, I had one of those moments that transported me back to my teaching days at Georgia Southwestern State Univ. (GSW). In those days I was a half-day preschool teacher, college professor (teaching two classes), and an academic advisory to elementary education majors. I was often frustrated in those early days when I had one aspect of my professional life organized, prep work ready for class, and knew just where I was headed and the other areas was in disarray and I struggled to stay ahead of the game. As frustration mounted I would switch my energies to the somewhat neglected area and get that running smooth to the distraction of the other part of my work.

I often felt that I lived two lives. The pre-school teacher organizing centers, playing with children, band-aiding the occasional boo-boo and the college teacher preparing PowerPoints, providing interesting active learning opportunities, and offering advise to students dealing with the everyday stress and frustrations of college life. On one hand I was the teacher who communicated regularly with parents and on the other the teacher who by law could not disclose information to parents without their child's consent.

So this fall as I was working at my list of to do's, I breathed a sigh of relief as I had finished grading the last paper of the most recent assignment and had half the week of college classes were planned. I then remembered that I had a second list, pulling it out made me face the reality that lesson plans weren't finished and I needed to go back to school to pull out my math resources for the week. Aaah the double life and double lists.

Although stressful at times, I managed to really enjoy teaching my college course. Doug was a great help as he reminded me of old resources that either he or I had used in the past. He often ran back to his office at night to bring me a hand-out or a book to consider incorporating in my class. And I have to say that I had one of the best groups of college students ever. They ranked right up there with three of my most favorite groups at GSW.

Friday ended the college semester and I've posted final grades. The kindergartens are bouncing off the walls, humoring me with tales of Santa, and my assistant is wearing a "tacky" Christmas sweater and decorative headwear each day. With two days of school left before the break, I have plans that will keep the most bouncy child engaged and enthralled. My reward today was pajamas till 10:00 while lounging on the couch with a diet soda and HGTV. ...and blogging.