Thursday, 29 July 2010


A friend of mine, Redhead Writer, asked the question:

What is one of the most important lessons you’ve learned?

This is a tough question to answer. I have had to learn so many lessons in my life. They are all equally important. Maybe I should just grab onto one of them and share it here.

It’s really a two part lesson. One is the importance of being true to yourself and who you are, and the other is about having the courage to stand up for what you believe in and for others who don’t have the strength to stand up for themselves.

This lesson was learned when I was about twelve years old. I was in junior high, and I was waiting for the school bus after school. There was a small group of children with mental disabilities who were also waiting for their school bus a little ways away from me. Two other students, rather large boys, started picking on one of the small group. They were really brutal, yelling at him, shoving him, calling him names like “retard” and “stupid.” And he looked really afraid. He didn’t seem to know what was going on or why they were doing that to him.

I was shocked and horrified by what was happening, but I was too timid and unsure of myself to go over and do anything to stop what was happening. I was afraid, and I was weak. Even sadder was the fact that there were so many other students around me who also were just standing and watching and not doing anything to put a stop to what was going on.

A girl who had been walking past from the high school over the road from us came over to the two bullies and started really telling them off. She shouted at them and let them know how little they looked in her eyes because of what they were doing. And like true bullies, they scurried off rather than standing up to her.

I was so relieved and glad that she had stopped them. I also felt ashamed. I knew, watching her, that I should have done what she did. I should have stood up to them. The boy they were picking on was confused and unable to help himself in the situation. I knew what they were doing was wrong, and I should have stopped them. My very nature told me to put a stop to it, but my fear and lack of self-confidence prevented me from helping.

I knew then that I would never stand back again. I would stand up for others who couldn’t stand up for themselves, and I would stand up for myself too.

My parents taught me right from wrong and that being kind to others was a good thing. They taught me empathy. I was a confident child. It wasn't until my preteen years that peer pressure and other influences started to erode that confidence.

I don't want that same confidence-erosion to occur with my own children. I want them to be strong and to stand up for themselves and for their beliefs.

So what can we, as parents, do to help our children maintain their confidence despite all of the hormonal changes they will go through when they reach a certain age, despite the often negative influences from their peers, and despite all of the other pitfalls and obstacles that can be foound in the world outside of our families?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Inexpensive & Easy To Make Teacher Gifts

Teacher gift 21 July 2010

Today was the last day of school for my 7 year old and my 4 year old daughters. I wanted them to have a special gift to give their teachers as a “Thank you” before they left school for Summer vacation, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

I found some plain wooden frames at the craft store for 99 pence each and bought two. I then used some acrylic paints that I already had on hand to paint them. First, I painted the frames white. I let them dry and then painted another coat of white paint onto them.

After they dried again, I used some stencils that I already had on hand of flowers and hearts. I got some green acrylic paint out, and then I mixed some red and white acrylic paint to make a pink paint. I held the stencil in place across the top of the first frame while my daughter dabbed the paint onto the stencil, and then I did the same for the bottom of the frame. Then I repeated this for the other daughter.

The painting did not come out perfectly. On one frame, I held the stencil a little too high when doing the bottom of the frame so it wound up not being centered properly, but it was still cute. Also, I should have let the kids paint with proper stencil paints, as the acrylic paints were a bit too moist and there was a bit of smudging that occurred as a result.

While those dried, I sat down at the computer and let my four year old list ten reasons why teachers are great, and I typed it up in a pretty font. I let the seven year old write a poem about teachers and specifically for her current teacher, and then I typed it up for her.

I printed these in the sizes needed to fit into the frames and placed them into the frames.

The result was that my girls each had a pretty framed piece of writing to give to their teachers that was unique and personal. And it cost me very little to make.

Teacher gift1 21 July 2010

Note: If I had needed a stencil, the craft store actually sold decorative stencils made specifically to fit with the wooden frames for a mere 99 pence each.