what i learned from a week of teaching kindergarten

Happy Friday, friends! Today I’m delighted to share a guest post with you that I wrote for Candace Bisram’s wonderful blog Pocketful of Smiles. It’s about some lessons I learned from my week of teaching kindergarten a few summers back. Hope you enjoy!

 

What I Learned From a Week of Teaching Kindergarten

Home from work, I flopped onto my bed without even taking off my shoes. “Oh my gosh!” I sighed into the phone to my parents. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so exhausted.”

It was summer, and I was teaching a weeklong writing and public speaking class through the local Parks & Recreation Department. When I signed up to teach the class, I didn’t know what age group I would be assigned. And then, when I learned my assignment, I wasn’t worried.

Kindergarten. How hard could it be? We would read picture books, sing songs, draw some pictures. Golden.

The first day, I realized the extent of my misconception…

 

You can read the rest of the piece published on Pocketful of Smiles here!

 

That’s all for today! Hope you have a relaxing and rejuvenating weekend. 🙂

fabulous friday #26 {new orleans edition!}

Hi from beautiful New Orleans, and Happy Independence Day to all my U.S. readers! I hope you have some fun celebrating on the agenda today. Allyn and I are going to watch the fireworks on the Mississippi River! I’m waaaaay excited.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being reunited with my sweetheart! After being apart for a month {and knowing we’ll have to be apart for another month when I leave} I am savoring every moment we get to spend together.

me and Al new orleans

2. The beautiful architecture of the city! It’s so uniquely New Orleans. And I love the strands of lights that are hanging everywhere! The picture below is from a cute outdoor art fair we stumbled upon one night on Frenchman Street.

new orleans architecture new orleans architecture new orleans art walk

3. Live jazz music! We saw a terrific performance at a place on Bourbon Street, and also wandered around Frenchman Street where there was a fantastic band giving a street performance that blew my socks off. I get such a big goofy grin on my face when listening to live music.

live jazz

4. The food. Especially the beignets at Café Du Monde. I learned the hard way not to exhale while taking a bite — guess who blew powdered sugar alllll over herself? Haha.

cafe du mondebeignetal beignet

me beignet

5. These cheerful flowers Allyn surprised me with at the airport when he picked me up. There were a bunch of buds that have slowly been unfurling all week. I love them!

flowers from Al

BONUS: My friend Dana’s beautiful photography blog. She posts a new photo of hers every day and it makes my morning to check it out while I sip my tea. Talk about inspiration! She is so talented. I wish she could walk around New Orleans with me and take photographs! She has such an insightful, interesting way of viewing the world behind her lens. You can subscribe to her blog here!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for this 4th of July weekend?
  • Have you ever been to New Orleans? Any recommendations for my final week here?

guest post at Parent Grapevine

Hi, friends! Happy Monday! I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post, but for today I wanted to let you know about a guest post I wrote for the terrific blog Parent Grapevine:

Help Your Child Become a Better Writer: 3 Easy, Fun Prompts to Try!

I’ve been a writing teacher for the past eight years, working with a range of ages: kindergarten through senior citizens. I’ve led writing workshops for public schools, private schools, home-schooling groups, community centers, and more! I also taught undergraduate writing courses at Purdue University for three years.

When I talk to parents and teachers, two questions come up again and again:
1. How can we make writing FUN for kids and teenagers?
2. How can we help our kids become better writers?

The answers to these two questions are tied together: like anything, people become better writers with practice. The best way to help your child become a better writer is to encourage him or her to write, write, write! Well, how do you do that? By making writing a fun activity.

Head on over to Parent Grapevine to read the rest of my post, including three popular writing prompts I use often in my work with young writers.

Hope you’re having a marvelous Monday!

year of kindness challenge: week 25

year of kindness button

Hi everyone! Hope your week is off to a great start! And welcome to our new subscribers — so happy to have you joining us! Thank you to everyone for letting my blog be part of your day. It really means a lot to me!

My weekend was filled with wedding craziness — I was a bridesmaid in my dear cousin Amanda’s wedding! Full wedding recap coming tomorrow; for now, here’s a sneak peak picture of me and the beautiful bride just a few minutes before she walked down the aisle:

cuz bride!

Now, on to the kindness! Last week’s Kindness Challenge was do something kind for a senior citizen. This could mean calling or writing a note to a grandparent, offering to carry an elderly person’s groceries to their car, bringing in the mail for an elderly neighbor, visiting people at a nursing home … or whatever inspires you!

I recently connected with a new friend, Jeri, through a local volunteer organization called Caregivers that serves senior citizens. {Longtime blog readers might remember my friend Jewell, who I met in high school while volunteering through Caregivers and whose memory inspired me to bring Christmas cards and cookies to her former nursing home this past holiday season.} Jeri is a friendly, sweet elderly woman who can no longer drive due to health issues and failing eyesight. This past week, I drove her across town to her church, where she taught an hour-long line-dancing class to half a dozen other elderly women, and then I drove her home. I enjoyed visiting with her and listening to her many interesting life stories — she used to own a Dude Ranch! — and it was so inspiring and fun to watch the ladies line dance! They had SO much more rhythm than I do!

The Week 25 Kindness Challenge comes from my lovely blogger friend Ashley at A Happy Lass {if you haven’t checked out her blog, I would highly recommend popping on over! It’s wonderful!} and it is to do something kind for people riding public transportation. Ashley says, “I ride a bus and a train to work and was thinking I could do something for the people there. Maybe I’ll pay the bus fare for the person behind me on my way into work and back home. I’ve done this before and, usually, their faces light up, it seems to brighten their commute.”

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
– week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
– week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen

year of kindness challenge: week 23

year of kindness button

Hi, everyone! How is your week shaping up?

I had a really nice weekend with lots of friend & family time! Girls night out, a backyard pizza-making party, baking, eating, reading, wine, a long-awaited phone date with a wonderful friend, a new buddy at church, running errands with my mama … and on Sunday night my family all went out to a local winery for a concert featuring the very talented daughter of my mom’s coworker. SO much fun! Cassi Vaniotis, you were terrific!!

I also tried out a few new recipes I’m looking forward to sharing with you guys soon! Stay tuned!

So, last week’s kindness challenge was to do an act of patience. I think the best thing about this challenge was that it changed my mindset. I tried to approach these acts of patience with an open heart and thoughts of kindness, and what once seemed like a chore — waiting in the office for my eye doctor appointment, sitting in traffic, running errands — didn’t seem so bad. I let someone go in front of me in line at the store. I waved cars ahead of me when merging on the freeway. When I was put on hold on the phone, I sat and daydreamed rather than absently surfing the Internet while I waited.

I’m someone whose natural inclination is to jam-pack every minute of my day with “productive” activity. I like to feel go-go-go, crossing off tasks on my to-do list. But I realized that I was tying my self-worth to this sense of “busyness” … and that isn’t a good thing. I was often feeling like I didn’t “accomplish enough” in a day, no matter how much multitasking I did. And I wasn’t fully savoring the rich details and spontaneous joyful moments of life!

murray patience grasshopper

So I’ve been on a mission to slow down, breathe, and focus on one thing at a time. Embrace whatever life is presenting to me in that moment. The funny thing is, now that I’m approaching my day with a more patient, slowed-down mindset, I feel like I have more time than ever!

I came across a quote this week about patience and kindness that struck me, and I wanted to share it with you: “Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in the one ahead.” -Bill McGlashen, poet & author

What would your life look like with more patience?

The Week 23 Kindness Challenge comes from my wonderful blogger friend Lindsay at The Lean Green Beanand it is to call at least 3 friends and/or family members that you miss on the phone, let them know, and actually talk to them…instead of just texting or emailing!

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a wonderful week!
Dallas

—————————–

year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
week 22 challenge: practice a little patience

guest post on AndreaDekker.com!

Hi everyone! I’m excited to share that my guest post “A Random Acts of Kindness Challenge” is being featured on one of my favorite blogs, AndreaDekker.com! In the post I share five easy, inexpensive kind acts that you can do today to brighten the lives of others.

random-acts-of-kindness

Read it here: http://andreadekker.com/random-acts-of-kindness-challenge/

Happy Friday! Hope you have a lovely day and enjoy the long weekend!

summer beauty GIVEAWAY!!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’m super excited to announce my first giveaway!!

My birthday is two weeks from today, and I want to celebrate by giving something away to you! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog — it means so much to me that you make my little corner of the Internet part of your day. I am very grateful to be part of such a vibrant, positive and friendly blog community!

For the giveaway, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite beauty products into two prize packages — just in time for summer!

Prize #1: Big Beauty Basket

big beauty box

Prize #2: Travel Beauty Clutch

travel beauty clutch

The giveaway will stay open for two weeks, until my birthday, May 29th. Good luck! And thanks for celebrating with me!

Click on this link to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

april foodie pen pals reveal

FPP-post

This was my second month participating in Foodie Pen Pals through The Lean Green Bean, one of my favorite blogs! Here’s how it works: you visit The Lean Green Bean and enter your contact info to sign up for the next month of Foodie Pen Pals. Then the amazing Lindsay matches you up with two other bloggers or food lovers: one person to send a foodie package to, and one person who will send a package to you! Then you spend $15 putting together a box of fun, yummy treats for your pen pal, pop it in the mail, and eagerly await the arrival of your own foodie package!

Natalie from In Natalie’s Shoes sent me a package this month. She sent me a box filled with delectable goodies:

foodie pen pals april

  • homemade brownies with Reese’s peanut butter eggs inside
  • dark-chocolate-covered  pretzel slims from Trader Joes {these are addicting!}
  • a jar of cookie butter, also from TJ’s {amazing spread on apples!}
  • honey glazed almonds
  • Special K chocolatey pretzel cereal bars
  • Nature Valley Almond Crunch granola bars

Thanks, Natalie!! This package really brightened my week! I would encourage all of you to check out Natalie’s food/travel/craftiness blog: http://innataliesshoes.wordpress.com/

If this kind of thing sounds fun to you, go sign up for May Foodie Pen Pals at The Lean Green Bean. It only takes two minutes and it is a blast!

28-Day Blog Challenge

Happy first day of February! Wow, hard to believe how quickly this new year is already flying by.

I mentioned in my earlier post reviewing The Happiness Project that this year I am trying something different with my yearly goals: I’ve broken them up into topics and am trying to focus on one topic per month. In January, for example, I unveiled my Year of Kindness challenge. I’ve been trying to figure out what I want to focus on for February, and yesterday I serendipitously came across this post by Katy Widrick in her terrific blog “Healthy Living in a Hectic World” about her 28-Day Blog Challenge. Sign me up!

28dbc-logo-e1358001982556

The idea is to spend some time refreshing, rethinking, and reinvigorating your blog, however you see fit. I love how the challenge is self-guided while also having a community of motivators behind you. And I love how Katy includes in her post a long list of ideas to get you started. {Her Blogging Homework series is also great!}

Anyone want to join me? You can officially sign up to participate in the challenge here.

I’m looking forward to making little tweaks and perhaps some bigger changes, both onstage and behind the scenes, over the course of this month!

For today, I updated my Day-by-Day Masterpiece Facebook page, then took the leap {gulp} and invited all my Facebook friends to “like” my page. {For those of you would like to become a fan of Day-by-Day Masterpiece on Facebook, here’s the link: you will make my day!}

Have a fantastic Friday and a lovely weekend! Stay warm!

-Dallas

Review of “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin

Today was a glorious 50-degree day here in Indiana, and a Friday to boot! I celebrated by stopping by a frozen yogurt shop for a midafternoon snack. They still had the holiday flavors out and I perhaps gorged myself on a little too much of the gingerbread fro-yo {I am a sucker for anything gingerbread flavored, as evidenced by this photo of my happy gingerbread chai latte face} and needless to say, I am now in a little bit of a fro-yo sugar coma. I will persevere onward…

So, you may remember that this book was on my to-read list back in November as part of the book club hosted by blogging phenom Julie at PB Fingers.

the-happiness-project

You may also have noticed that finishing the book was crossed off my to-do list a while ago and that I mentioned one of the book’s principles {“Do good, feel good”} in my post about taking cards & cookies to the nursing home for the holidays.

To be honest, I think I kind of blurred together that post and the book in my mind, and thought I had already posted a review of The Happiness Project on here … until I went to look for the post last night and couldn’t find it. Whoops!

Better late than never, right? 😉

The Happiness Project takes us through a year-long quest of writer Gretchen Rubin to become happier and more grateful for her life and her blessings. She focuses on a specific area of her life for each month, such as feeling more energetic, being a better parent, and improving her relationship with her husband. Her aim is to continue the lessons from each month into the next month {picture a snowball accumulating more and more power as it rolls forward} so that by the end of the year she is attempting to put all of her lessons into practice. I really liked how she set up the project, and the book, in this organized, easy-to-follow way. I am using this strategy to tackle my own goals for this year: I have broken them up into different categories and am focusing on one main category per month, which will hopefully make it less overwhelming to stay on track and get things done.

Rubin writes in an accessible way, almost like a friend chatting to you over coffee. I also liked how she interspersed quotes, examples, and scientific & psychological research she had done throughout the book. It is clear she dove full-heartedly into her happiness project and I think that is a big part of what makes her story so inspiring and invigorating. This book is part of what motivated me to start my own year of kindness challenge!

year of kindness button

I was moved by Rubin’s “Splendid Truths” about Happiness {you can read the entire list on her blog here} especially her Second Splendid Truth:

“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy;
One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

Reading this statement made me feel joyfully understood. This would be my First Splendid Truth; this is my key to happiness. I make myself happy by making other people happy. And I try to brighten other people’s days with my own happiness. I remember a mantra I came up with in elementary school: “Why be sad when you could be happy?” It still rings true, for me, in most situations.

Something else that I found useful from this book was the appendix, which is filled with handouts and resources for people interested in starting their own happiness projects. Rubin wrote that one of the most motivating things for her was to track her progress with daily charts, and as I am someone also motivated by checking things off lists, I devised my own goal list for the week to keep me motivated on those routine goals that could easily fall by the wayside.

All in all, I think The Happiness Project is a motivating and inspiring book to read while also asking yourself, “What does my own Happiness Project look like?”

Have any of you read The Happiness Project? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

** For January, the PB Fingers book club pick is The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.

** I’ll also be reading and reviewing 7: an experimental mutiny against excess by Jen Hatmaker if anyone wants to join me! I’d be happy to post links to your book reviews, too!

7 by jen hatmaker

Have a great weekend! I am planning a night in watching Men in Black III {which I still can’t believe I managed to miss in theaters… I’ve been wanting to see it for.ev.er!}

Hope your night is filled with fun and relaxation and perhaps even a little Friday fro-yo! 😉

xo,
Dallas