I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

This is Halloween

Sorry folks - the creative juices just ain't flowing this week.

But I do want to take a moment to wish you a Happy Halloween!

Oh, and I wanted to share this cartoon with you because it made me smile (and it reminds me that Thanksgiving break is only 3 weeks away):

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Time Lapse

Don't have much to say tonight, but I thought these time lapse videos of Chicago were worth the viewing:

Have a good night!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Almost time to celebrate...

At school until nearly 6 tonight - not really my cup of tea. However, most of the time after school was spent reading that students' poetry portfolios, so it was actually pretty entertaining.

Some did fall short of hopes and expectations, but others certainly rose to the occasion.

There's lots to be said for leaving plenty of room for creativity and student choice (with guidelines, of course).

Oh poetry, how I will miss you when we say goodbye to you on Thursday. (But, I admit, I am very much looking forward to our 2nd annual Chocolate House event - that's sure to be deeelicious!)

Gotta love celebrations...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Odds Are...

I decided to break from my traditional school posts to share a bit of fun I had yesterday. (I hope you don't mind...)

With the invitation for a costume ND gamewatch party lingering in the air, it was now or never to throw together a costume.

But what to do?

I had limited time...and limited resources. (The countdown was about 5 hours, and I had just gotten back from Target.)

I don't know why, but I thought that maybe - just maybe - I could make Katniss Everdeen (from the ever popular Hunger Games trilogy) work. I had the pants, shirt, and boots. I could borrow the jacket from my roommate. I could (probably) braid my hair. I could make my face and arms look grungy/dirty.

But what about her famous arrows? Hmm...

A quick Google search for "easy Katniss Everdeen costumes" yielded a brilliant idea - use a mailing tube from the post office. Ready, set, go! Only one problem - the tube available for purchase was white. (Otherwise, it was perfect, even though I didn't have a bow.)

Back to my apartment - I had a brown marker. I thought I could make it happen. And, after some quick coloring, the tube looked pretty good. I put clear packaging tape up and down the whole tube so the marker wouldn't run. It gave it a somewhat shiny quality, but I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. Then, it was time to figure out how to make a sling so I could carry/wear it. I wasn't about to let this challenge beat me either - I decided to use hair ties, knotting 5 together to create a sufficient length before attaching them to both ends of the tube. The arrows were relatively easy to make too - just wrap/twist some aluminum foil around itself and leave the butt of the arrow flat.

Check it out -->

I needed a mockingjay pin - I mean, Katniss has to wear one. Time to put my artistic skills to the test: I got some copy paper, ripped it small enough to tape around a button I had in my room, and then found a picture of the pin online. I sketched it first, then colored the pin part yellow and filled in the rest black so it would look like my jacket coming through.

This also surprised me by how well it came out (and how relatively easy it was too!) -->

Now, put it together and what do you got? -->

Katniss Everdeen! (And a satisfied Halloween gamewatch go-er)

Too bad we don't get to dress up for school. I feel like this would be a hit, especially with the middle school. Rats.

I must admit, it was pretty fun to think outside of the box to get this costume together. (And the gamewatch turned out to be a lot of fun too - especially since the ND Fighting Irish won!) I guess I can't ever have an excuse for not having a Halloween costume again because I can probably come up with something, right?

May the odds be ever in your favor for a Happy Halloween this week!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


"Ms. Foyle, I'm going to dedicate this poetry portfolio to you for always having patience with me...except for right now...so now I CAN'T dedicate it to you. (Sigh)"

Ok, so maybe it was a bit dramatic, but I was actually quite impressed with the idea that she noticed my patience, which I have been working on extra hard of late. I've been trying to stay calm, keep my voice down, and still make sure we all still get where we need to be.

And it hasn't been easy.

There have been times I've wanted to BURST!

But, for the most part, I've kept my cool. And she noticed that. And I think it's made a difference. And for that I am grateful.

And that patience is something I will keep striving for in the weeks to come, especially as we approach the holidays. 

(Lord help us all...)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The fruit of prayer...

"The fruit of prayer is faith.
If we pray, then we will believe.
If we believe, then we will love -
because the fruit of faith is love
and the fruit of love is service..."

~*~ Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta ~*~

I love the fact that it's 6:30 a.m., and I am able to sit in silence here in my apartment and meditate on these daily reflections provided by The Year of Faith Companion (Magnificat). Such a beautiful and peaceful start to the day!

And I particularly believe that Mother Teresa stated these thoughts so eloquently. In fact, she goes on in the reflection to say, "Faith is the most beautiful gift God can give to a human being - to believe that he Is, and that the Church Is..." And I believe that too.

But what is faith? Yes, sometimes it is hard to define, but it, too, can be found in the Bible: "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen." (Heb 11:1) 

So, what is faith? It's keeping our minds and hearts set on God, while firmly believing in God's miracles. As I try to explain to my students - we can't scientifically explain a lot of things that God does - that's why they are mysteries. 

But, as Mother Teresa pointed out, if we pray, then we will believe, and when we believe, we will love.

Let us strive for these beliefs and actions as we go about our day.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Come Alive

Came across this on Pinterest tonight...


And I LOVE it.

So, from time to time, we need to ask ourselves, "What makes me come alive?"

And, as educators, we need to ask, "What makes our students come alive?" - otherwise, I think we'll have a lot of apathy on our hands. Face it, when the students' energy is there, material gets learned and "miracles" happen.

And, if that quote doesn't do it for you, you can think about it in the words of Steve Jobs instead:


Love what you do and do what you love. And, gosh darn it, live it up a little and don't be afraid to be ALIVE!

Think Stephen Sondheim -->

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Failure to prepare

...is preparing to fail.

Or so says Benjamin Franklin, John Wooden, and likely many other greats.

So, preparation for our Rosary activity on Thursday is exactly how I've spent quite a bit of time on this weekend. Here's what I've come up with:

How to Make Your Own Rosary Powerpoint

[I also took pictures of the baggies - all 43+ of them! - that I made ahead of time to avoid "attack of the beads" or any other disasters that could ensue if the beads were just laid out for the taking, but for some reason, my computer won't let me upload them. I'll post them later if I can...]

I want to make sure I am prepared - better to have done more than I needed to than not enough, right?

Here's hoping for a solid week!

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Today was a tough day, and I am exhausted. It's not because the students were bouncing off the walls (they were actually quite good) or because I had a headache/was sick (I didn't/wasn't) or because we had no specials (we had music). No, it was a tough day because we attended the funeral for our school's music teacher who passed away last Friday.

I thought I could hold it together. After going to the wake last night, I was pretty sure I'd said my goodbyes. But I found that funerals have a way of stirring up strong emotions, old memories, and a few tears.

And so, tonight I thought I'd focus on what a funeral can teach us, but I changed my mind because, honestly, it's more like looking at what a life well lived can teach us.

Here goes...

Life is short, so it must be lived to the full. At 51 years of age, Bob had so much life left to live. The fact that he was taken away at such a relatively young age serves to remind each of us that every moment is precious.

People keep many things private; don't judge a person because of something you see (or don't see) because there's probably a lot more going on than you realize. I had no idea Bob was sick with cancer. He was always so positive and cheerful. His smile was one of his greatest assets. One of our students said that even though she was new to the school and didn't even have him as a teacher, Bob made her feel welcome just because he showed he cared.

Find your passion - and then share it with others. Bob had a beautiful voice and was a talented musician. He gave endlessly of his talents (and, as it turns out, his own money) to build our school's music program and to help create a joy of music in our students.

Have fun, laugh, and celebrate whenever possible. There's a time to be serious, but don't take yourself too seriously. There's much to be enjoyed in a good hearty laugh and time spent with friends. As we learned today, these are things Bob did well.

Thank your friends, teachers, and family when you have the chance - if you wait, there's no guarantee they will know how you feel and how much they mean to you. Nothing is certain, especially the gift of life. Say "I love you" and "thank you" - and mean it.

One person can make a difference. Be that difference for someone else. Bob made a difference for so many people, especially his immediate family and his students. And what did he do to make that difference? He took time for people. Bob said what he meant, and he offered many compliments when things went well. He offered a unique perspective to different activities, especially in our faculty meetings. He always had a smile on his face, and he had a way of knowing which students needed extra help or care even before they, themselves, had realized it. He was extraordinary by doing the little things that matter. And that can inspire each of us to strive to do the same.

Yes, Bob's was a life well-lived. And we are each called to do the same.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Faith Is...

About a month ago, I purchased Magnificat's Year of Faith Companion. The Year of Faith, as named by Pope Benedict XVI, began on October 11th, and I have been diligently reading the short reflections (about 1 page in length) each morning before heading to school. The reflections range from poems to catechism to prayer.

Today's reflection was "A Litany of Faith" (based on the writings of Pope Benedict), and it really defined faith in a more clear and rather new light for me. I wanted to share a few of the lines here with you:

"In faith, something meets us that is greater than anything we can think up for ourselves*...
Faith is reaching that point in which we recognize we need to be given something*...
Faith means opening our hand in trust and accepting a gift*...
Faith entails the shift from dependence on the visible and practicable to trust in the invisible*...
Faith expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness*..."

(*The response after each line is "Lord, increase my faith.")

And I just meditated on the lines of this litany - pretty powerful stuff, eh?

Let us continue to pray that God increase our faith and that we remember these descriptions and explanations of what faith should be for each of us.


P.S. - On a completely unrelated note (because I didn't want to leave you hanging), here's an update on the pumpkin cake - the "proof of the cake" was definitely in the eating - I personally enjoyed it, and many other faculty members shared how much they liked it as well.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Measuring Up...in Heart

To measure a man, measure his heart. (Malcolm Forbes)

As our students shuffled in this morning - it's always a little rough on Mondays - they were asked to copy and respond to the above quote that my co-teacher and I had posted on the board. (I had literally found the quote about 2 minutes before the bell rang, but it fit the purpose rather perfectly.)

After morning prayer, we invited the students to share their thoughts about the quote's meaning. Many said that it's not about what's on the outside but rather what's on the inside that counts. Others said that it matters more how someone treats others and values things than what he looks like or says.

These ideas led right into the topic of our community circle discussion this morning - the unexpected death of their music teacher (and our co-worker) and their memories of and feelings about him. He was a rather private person, and he wasn't very old, so the news of his death came as quite a shock to most of us. Their music teacher was a man that will likely be remembered not only for his love of music but also for his smile, genuine care for the students, dry sense of humor, and calm presence. The students shared many stories with each other (and even more students shared at a school-wide prayer service later in the morning) - and those stories brought smiles and a few tears. Clearly, this man had a large impact on our school community, and he was definitely a great man due to his love for others.

So, if I may, I ask that you please keep our music teacher, his family & friends, and our school community in your prayers tonight. We know he's in heaven looking down on us now.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Hobby for a Sunday

Everyone has 'em - they are fun; they keep us sane; they bring us joy.

The list goes on.

Yep, you gotta love a good hobby.

Today, mine was baking. I've been dying to try this pumpkin bundt cake recipe - I was going to make it for faculty potluck last week, but, alas, I didn't have the instant butterscotch jello mix. (Who would have thought that would have been the hardest thing to find?) Needless to say, that day I settled on muffins (which, let's face it, are not quite as exotic).

But, lo and behold, after going to Target yesterday, where, by the way, I purchased two packages of instant jello (not to be thwarted again!), I decided to put my baking skills to the test.

Here's the evidence/process:

all ingredients combined, pre-mixing - guess I need a bigger bowl next time

post-mixing, in the process of adding the mix to the bundt pan - yes, there was a little mix left over - darn...

in the oven - and lookin' good...

the final product

all wrapped up for tomorrow

The final test will have to wait until tomorrow. (I'm hoping it's not as dry as it looks!) At that time, we will see if, as they say, the "proof of the pudding is in the eating"...

Or, um, in this case, of the cake.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Teaching fourth graders presents many challenges, but the one I have found year after year to be the most like pulling teeth is getting the students to write complete sentences with specific details to support their answers.

In fact, when I explain the challenge to most people, I usually compare it to this:

If you've ever taught in a classroom (of any age), you undoubtedly know what I'm talking about.

Why is explaining ideas and other things on paper so darn hard? Is it really that much extra effort? Well, for some reason, my fourth graders think so.

So, until the students can expand those sentences on their own, I'll be the one right there saying, "And...?" And then, just maybe, I'll get answers with at least some substance...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Fall"-ing Again...

October is a great month. For some, it is arguably the best month of the year. I don't know if I would go that far, but the fact that it lands in the heart of the Fall season certainly doesn't hurt.

Weather in the 60s (or 50s)...
Pumpkin flavors around every turn (and on every menu)...
Brilliantly colored leaves (of all shapes and sizes)...
Football season in full swing (and basketball starting soon)...
Cozy and warm sweaters (recently cleaned from being stored for months)...

And, as a Catholic, there's one more thing that pushes October over the edge: It's the month of the Rosary. (Yay, Mary!)

There's something powerful in praying the Rosary together. For example, today, our students raised their 21 voices up in "Hail Mary"s & "Our Father"s, while following along with an online version (which can be found here), and it was a beautiful sound. Peaceful, yet strong.

Let us remember, especially during this month of October, to lift our prayers and hearts to Mary, our mother and intercessor. What a beautiful Catholic tradition we have!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Time for a Follow Up on School Choice

It's now been a few months since I attended ACE's Parental Choice Symposium, and that has allowed me some time to read up on some articles, become more familiar with programs and policies, etc.

In fact, I now try to stay up to date by routinely checking ACE's PEA (Program for K-12 Educational Access) page for links to the latest news @ the bottom right-hand side. [Trust me, it's worth the time & effort if you want to learn more too - ACE usually updates articles once or twice a week.]

That's what ultimately brought my attention to the following video:

Doesn't that just give you chills?

The movie "Won't Back Down" (which, for the record, I still haven't seen) has created a lot of hype and has provided the opportunity for school choice programs and policies to come to the forefront of politics and, more importantly, to the attention of parents who deserve better choices, whether those be private or public, for their children.

Let's keep the conversation going...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hey, hey, the weekend's here...

What's the beauty of a day off from school on Monday?

Well, let's face it, the extra day is worth it, in and of itself. But add some bachelorette festivities for a good friend, visits from out-of-town ACE classmates, tailgating (& bartending) with ACE, ND game watching, marathon cheering, and much needed relaxation, and you get an A+ weekend! (Heck, it's not even over yet.)

Long weekends are few and far between - let's celebrate them when we can...

Kelsey's bachelorette weekend festivities

Go Irish! (and Go ACE PHOENIX!)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Where Am I Going?

"There’s something very freeing about losing the anchors that have always defined you. Frightening, sad, but exhilarating in a poignant way, as well. You’re free to float to the moon and evaporate or sink to the bottom of the deepest ocean. But you’re free to explore. Some people confuse that with drifting, I suppose. I like to think of it as growing.” 
~ Deborah Smith ~

This quote came across my inbox in one of those Values.com emails - and I kept it unread because I wanted to think on it more.

Right now, I do feel that, at times, I am drifting. I don't know exactly where I'm going, especially at this point in my life. (Kind of reminds me of that good ol' Thomas Merton quote.) 

And that can be kind of daunting or even scary. Friends are going back to school...getting married...moving to new places...changing careers... 

Where do I fit in? What's God's plan for me?

Am I drifting? Or, as the quote insists, is it more like growing?

I suppose I like to think of it as the latter too...and I like to think that one day it will all be revealed...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

In another post...Check it out!

Today, you can find me on another post on the "Picturing God" blog (Ignatian Spirituality):

Cactus Flower

OCTOBER 3, 2012
cactus flower
“There is much beauty to behold in the desert.”


That was one of the many small ways I saw God every day in the desert. And it serves as a reminder to find God in the everyday things around us - in nature, in people we interact with...

So, let us remember to look for God - He is all around us.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Spirit of ACE

Can you tell I got swept up in the spirit of ACE this weekend?

I ordered the tervis tumbler from the ACE store, and they threw in the bag for free. (Well done, ACE.)

Should you have the urge to show your love for Catholic education, check out their new store here.

I <3 Catholic schools...do you?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Looking to the Saints for GRACE

"You know well enough that our Lord does not look so much at the greatness of our actions, nor even at their difficulty, but at the love at which we do them."
- St. Therese of Lisieux

Today is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux (also known as "The Little Flower"). I do not think it is coincidental, though, that I am determined to finish her autobiography, Story of a Soul (which can be accessed in its entirety here), during this month of October.

No, this resolve I came to on Saturday afternoon (while attending the ACE Advocates Summit at ND), when a significant question was posed to us that went something like this (although, I've probably butchered the question):

How can you experience grace more fully in your life?

Naturally, I thought of the saints. They are men and women of great faith, but, at the same time, they are human beings who have lived and walked this earth. They have wisdom and insight into attaining God's Kingdom - why shouldn't we turn to them?

So then, of course, my thoughts turned to the unfinished copy of St. Therese's autobiography that has been sitting on my bookshelf since much earlier this year. In fact, I posted on some of her wisdom in an earlier blog reflection, which can be accessed here.

So, stay tuned - and pray for me that I can actually accomplish this goal! - you can bet that I'll be sharing and reflecting on this young woman's wisdom - what an amazing story she has.