Now What?… Day 66

Our school year is over and summer vacation has officially started. As I sit here thinking about the days ahead, all that comes to mind is…Now What?

As states begin to open back up many uncertainties remain. And our media is no help as it is flooded with mixed messages and different opinions. Early on I thought once the stay at home order was lifted things would go back to “normal.” Now I know that transitioning out of isolation will be a gradual process. Through the transition we will need to continue to practice social distancing. Will we be required to wear masks? Hand sanitizers and extra hand washing will be imperative. So many unanswered questions remain… Will swimming pools open up for the summer? What will worship look like when our church reopens? Will we have VBS in person this year or will it be virtual? Will schools conduct professional development sessions and will I train teachers this summer? What will the 2020-2021 school year look like?

Among all of the unknowns, one thing is known, the pandemic is something we have never experienced before. As we transition back to “normal” we need to be accepting of others, allowing every person, every family, to enter back into society in a way that makes them feel comfortable. We shouldn’t judge others but focus instead, on what feels right for our family.

I continue to find comfort through God’s word and am reminded not to worry about tomorrow. Although COVID-19 has changed our world and the summer continues to hold many unknowns, we will get through this together.

End of the School Year Celebrations… Days 64 and 65

Although the last two months of the school year brought the unexpected, the 2019-2020 school year is one we will never forget! Although it was unprecedented and filled with great adaptation and a few tears along the way, our school year ended with the closure we were desperately seeking. Over the past two days we had proper summer send offs with a memorable visit with my daughter’s preschool teacher, an end of the school year car parade at Zion and a new tradition with water balloons and pizza!

End of the Year Memories– I’m happy we had an opportunity for a private send off with my daughter’s preschool teacher and assistant when we went to pick up my daughter’s end of the year bag. Although my daughter will be leaving preschool and beginning kindergarten in the fall, this isn’t goodbye. She is simply moving to a new classroom down the hall and will continue to see her beloved preschool teachers at weekly chapel and at special assemblies. And when our church opens its physical doors, we will worship together once again!

It was bittersweet to open up the red bag filled with memories of my daughter’s last year of preschool. When we got the bag home we found a children’s bible with a special inscription inside. Along with an extra set of clothes, preschool master pieces created on construction paper, summer wishes and a portfolio full of growth and learning; was a container of Clorox wipes and an interview my daughter had with her teacher over Zoom, titled, A Preschooler’s Perspective on a Pandemic. She says she misses her friends most of all and when the pandemic is over she looks forward to play dates and spending the night at her grandparents house. Although she misses school, she has enjoyed spending time outside and learned to write letters to authors and have birthday parades. Her answer to finding a cure for COVID-19 is medicine and Jesus’s healing hands.

Items from my daughter’s red bag.

Special Early Childhood Closing Chapel– The marvelous preschool teachers at Zion Lutheran School recorded a special closing chapel for their students. Sitting socially distanced on the alter, in our sanctuary, we joined in when they sang and danced to familiar songs the children had sung throughout the year. They shared best wishes and recognized the children moving into kindergarten. They ended by inviting us to join them in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, something we discovered my daughter could do independently when we began virtual church in March. CLICK HERE to view this special chapel.

Car Parade– End of the year car parades are the popular way to bring closure to a school year that ended virtually due to a pandemic. We enjoyed decorating our car for the school wide parade through our school’s parking lot. It made us smile to see all of Zion’s teachers, support staff and administrators waving and wishing us well. At the same time we were sad because we miss our Zion family so very much and the parade was simply too short! We hope everyone has a safe and happy summer and we can’t wait until it’s safe for us to be together again! CLICK HERE to view part of the parade.

New End of the School Year Traditions– Last week one of my daughter’s dear friends left a bag of water balloons on our doorstep. During normal circumstances they would have asked friends to join them for an end of the school year water balloon / pizza party. Since COVID-19 kept that from happening, they gifted us with balloons so we could have our own party. We had a blast playing with water balloons and ordered pizza for dinner. Next year we look forward to this new tradition and celebrating with school friends will be the best part!

Staying Connected Through a Birthday Visit, Fancy Surprises and a Virtual Concert…Day 63

During a time where we are socially disconnected, in many ways we are connecting even more! We are simply finding new ways to stay in touch and show we care. Today included a surprise birthday visit to a family friend, a heartwarming surprise package in the mail and a virtual live concert by a talented church friend.

A Birthday Visit and Fancy Nancy– Perhaps one of the most enjoyable things we have done during the quarantine is dropping off surprises to teachers, family members and friends. Today we surprised a family friend with a special birthday card. This eleven year old didn’t want a birthday parade, so we recognized her special day with a short outdoor visit. I’m sure this will be a birthday she will never forget! We were treated to laughs and a bag full of “Fancy Nancy” books to take home! If you have a young child in your home I encourage you to check out the character, “Fancy Nancy,” a French loving six-year with a fancy wardrobe and an even fancier vocabulary! In her world of fancy things, “Fancy Nancy” celebrates the things that make us unique and different. CLICK HERE to visit a website filled with fancy fun!

A Generous Surprise– My daughter was excited to receive a spring craft packet in the mail from Katelynne, a mommy blogger, who is also know as The Disguised Super Mom. CLICK HERE to check out her website. What a generous surprise! We can’t thank you enough! 

 Virtual Concert– I filled a wine glass with some liquid therapy, sat on my comfy couch and experienced my first virtual concert with “Live at the Library With Bethany Coad.” Bethany is an extremely talented contemporary folk singer/songwriter who also happens to be a member of my Zion Lutheran Church family. It was a relaxing hour of fabulous music, storytelling and escapism. Her original songs took me on a delightful journey and for a few minutes I forgot about social distancing, disappointment and the pandemic. I could relate to the peppy tongue and cheek “Lincolntown” as I have made the laborious drive from St. Louis to Chicago too many times to count! I also enjoyed the beautiful ballad titled “Lewis and Clark.” Her newest song, “A Place Where Time Stands Still,” conjured up happy memories of playing concerts, dining with family and attending festivals and parades along our historic main street in what has become my daughter’s hometown, St. Charles, MO. If you missed the concert, no worries, it was recorded. CLICK HERE to listen to Bethany Coad’s virtual concert at the library.

 

 

Finding Comfort in the Familiar…Days 61 and 62

Our weekend was filled with the familiar and this brought me comfort as we continue to navigate an unfamiliar world filled with uncertainty.

Trivia Night- The Mid-West is known for holding trivia nights, a fun way for organizations to raise funds and an enjoyable night out with friends. This year, several trivia nights in our area were rescheduled due to COVID-19. We participated in our first virtual trivia night on Saturday when we gathered with friends, virtually, and answered questions as a team. Although there were fewer questions and we didn’t get any of Debbie’s yummy chocolate chip cookies, debating on answers felt familiar and there were snacks, drinks, laughs and a whole lot of fun! 

Church– Although we miss our Zion Lutheran Church family, worshiping together in front of our TV on a Sunday morning is becoming comfortably familiar. When we return to regular worship I’m going to miss these lazy Sundays where we sleep in, eat brunch (sometimes from Donut King) and snuggle together in the family room listening to the word of God, praising Him in song and remembering our many blessings.

I find joy in the music we sing every Sunday. Last week the hymns during worship were all familiar and comforting. CLICK HERE to listen. From the opening hymn, “From All That Dwell Below the Skies,” to the hymn of the day, “At the Lambs High Feast We Sing,” to the sermon hymn, “Christ is Our Cornerstone,” to the closing hymn, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives,” all were wonderfully familiar. In fact, I can’t remember a time in my life that any were unfamiliar. These are the hymns from my childhood. They bring comfort and healing and have always been part of me.

Family Dinner- We ended our weekend with a big Sunday dinner. COVID-19 has my family of three preparing meals together and eating them every night around our kitchen table. Tonight we enjoyed homemade smoked sausage (leftover from Zion’s sausage supper), mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and green beans. The menu was familiar and took me back to my childhood as this was one of my grandmother’s favorite meals. She prepared it often with sausages bought at a wurstmarkt. The meal also warmed me with more recent memories of our church’s annual Sausage Supper, held a mere three months ago, in February. Although the day felt ordinary at the time, I would give anything to return to that moment. A morning spent worshiping with my family of three in our physical church building, a non-social distanced sausage meal enjoyed with my parents and then serving sauerkraut next to dear members of my church family. There were no masks and plenty of hugs!

 

 

 

 

Endings, New Beginnings and Butterfly Blessings…Day 60

Today was the last day of school. The final week brought many endings: the final chapel with Gary the Puppet, the last preschool blog post and the final virtual circle time with her teacher. As I clicked out of the Zoom meeting, an all too familiar thing to do these days, I wondered if her kindergarten year would begin the way her last year of preschool ended… with virtual learning? As the 2019-2020 school year comes to a close, it’s too early to know what awaits us for next year. One thing is certain, there will be changes. COVID-19 has assured us of that.

The last virtual preschool class was a fun dance party!

As we say goodbye to another school year, in a few days, my daughter’s teacher, Mrs. Stanglein, will release the butterflies the class has been observing virtually. Our world has changed over the past few months but we have adapted. It hasn’t been easy, but we have fought. We continue to be filled with uncertainty but with prayer, love and support, from our family, friends and from Zion Lutheran Church and School, we can make it through any storm. As my daughter and I read the last page of the book, Where Butterflies Grow, by Joanne Ryder, the words on the page spoke to me. Although written for the butterflies, it easily could have been written about my daughter, or any child in the world who finds themselves graduating or advancing to the next stage in their educational career. I leave you with what I like to call the butterfly blessing…

“You have grown and changed and your world has grown too. Now it’s time to fly to new places, time to look for others like yourself- bright flyers in the sun. Fly, butterfly. Good-bye.”

My daughter is standing next to a Zion Lutheran School graduation sign that proudly stands in our neighbor’s yard. Signs like these appeared in yards across our country. After a prekindergarten-8th grade education at Zion Lutheran, he is graduating. My heart goes out to the middle school, high school and college graduates who spent the best weeks of the school year at home, engaging in virtual classes and will experience a virtual graduation.

 

 

Hands-on Butterfly Fun…Days 58 and 59

Our classroom butterflies have emerged from their chrysalisthis week so we spent a few days celebrating with some butterfly fun! When I was a teacher, the last months of the school year were always my favorite because my students were comfortable with me and the classroom and they had grown academically, allowing for our class to engage in some exciting projects. Experiencing these butterfly activities with my daughter took me back to those days in the classroom.

Butterfly Books– On a rainy day this week my daughter and I snuggled together and read butterfly books. We enjoyed Where Does the Butterfly Go When it Rains? by May Garelick and the book prompted some on-line research to find the answer. We also enjoyed reading Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder and Waiting For Wings  by Louis Ehlert. I found a website called , The Butterfly Lady, that describes many wonderful butterfly books to share with your little one. We read several on the list. CLICK HERE to view the list. The Scholastic Learn At Home resources are fantastic! CLICK HERE to view the one on butterflies!

Butterfly Snack– This is a snack I enjoyed making with my kindergarten students at our butterfly release party. Back then you could “cook” at school and it was rare to find a student with a peanut allergy. My daughter and I improvised and used cream cheese spread instead of peanut butter and veggie straws instead of chow mein noodles. CLICK HERE for a copy of the recipe and a few additional butterfly resources.

Colorful Butterflies– We used coffee filters, washable markers, a pipe cleaner and a clothespin to create colorful butterflies! First we decorated the coffee filters with the washable markers. Then we folded the coffee filters in half and then in half a second time. We dipped the tip in a cup of water and watched as the water was absorbed by the coffee filter and spread the colors across the filter creating a colorful masterpiece! When the filter was dry, we gathered it in the center to create two wings, clipped it with a clothespin and added a pipe cleaner antennae! CLICK HERE for directions to a similar project.

Butterfly Party– You can’t have a party without some party favors and a colorful costume. My daughter used her fairy wings and put them on so she would look like a butterfly. Then she acted like a butterfly by sipping sweet nectar with her proboscis. A proboscis is a butterfly’s skinny straw like mouth. It curls its proboscis, or tongue, up like the party blowout shown here and when it gets ready to sip some sweet nectar it unfolds its proboscis and sips the nectar like we would use a straw. We simulated this by drinking orange juice with a straw and decorating party blowouts to look like a butterfly; uncurling the butterfly’s proboscis by blowing into the party favor.

Unicorns, a Bowling Ball and Bri Reads…Day 57

Last week was the 27th annual auction at my daughters school, Zion Lutheran. On-line this year due to COVID-19, my family of three walked away with some interesting items! My daughter was thrilled with the Unicorn Basket we won. Filled with a variety of unicorn themed books and a delightful stuffed unicorn, the basket is a little girl’s dream. My husband is looking forward to his winning item, “Pop Corn For a Year,” from a local specialty pop corn shop. And what did the Noteworthy Mommy end up with…a hot pink bowling ball! It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting but I was the only one who bid on it. Now all I need is a case and a pair of bowling shoes and I will look like a professional bowler! Notice how I said I would “look like,” not “play like,” a professional! In all seriousness, even though it had to be virtual this year, the auction was a lot of fun. The bidding resulted in over $42,000 raised for our amazing school and a possible new hobby for the Noteworthy Mommy!

Unicorns have been coveted for centuries by little girls all over the world, even a tomboy like me loved them as a child. I remember the unicorn fad in the 80’s. I had unicorns on my sweater, unicorns on my stickers and unicorns on my Trapper Keeper! Unicorns have been around forever and have only gained in popularity over the years.

Unicorn Cookies– My husband discovered that Nestle made “unicorn chips.” We followed the cookie recipe on the back of the bag. The result, similar to chocolate chip cookies, was colorful and super sweet!

Unicorn Books– There are many wonderful books about unicorns and our favorites are Thelma the Unicorn and the sequel, The Return of Thelma the Unicorn by Aaron Blabey. CLICK HERE to listen to Blabey read his book. We also love the book, Unicorn (And Horse) by David Miles. These engaging books teach children to learn to love who they are. Some days we feel like unicorns and want to wear a little sparkle and some days we prefer to be plain like a horse. It’s our differences that make us unique!

Bri Reads– While in isolation we discovered Bri and her animated story telling! Bri is an educator, actor and dynamic storyteller that my daughter simply adores. Some of her videos are on YouTube, but I encourage you to go to her webpage at www.brireads.com and sign up to gain free access to her entire library. Along with professional readings of favorite children’s books, she has original songs and drawing lessons! One of our favorite videos is Unicorn (And Horse) by David Miles. Since it’s release, just a week ago, my daughter has asked to watch it every night before bed. If you like unicorns you have to watch! CLICK HERE I want to thank Bri for bringing us sunshine on some of our darkest days in quarantine.

What Are You Watching? (The Shows That Helped Me Through the Quarantine)… Day 56

During this time of isolation many people have asked for binge worthy viewing suggestions to get them through the quarantine. I have a five year old so much of my screen time, if any, has been filled with cartoons like “My Little Pony,” “Llama, Llama,” and “PJ Masks.”

Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist– There is one show that I began watching during the pandemic that I simply can’t get enough of. It’s a quirky little show filled with immense talent, popular music, emotion and a love triangle! This extraordinary show is “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist.” The series is a comedy-drama about a young women named Zoey who can hear the inner most thoughts and desires of the people around her through song and musical numbers. The viewers get to know the people in Zoey’s life through these musical messages. You may be thinking, “this show’s not for me,” but I encourage you to give it a chance. After the second episode I became a fan.

Although “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” won’t become a mainstream classic, spending years upon years in syndication, it was there for me when I needed an escape. This little show got me to think outside of myself and made me forget COVID-19 and all of life’s new challenges for a few minutes at the end of the day. This feel-good show, with musical numbers, also contains an emotionally charged storyline that made me care about the characters on the screen. The series gave me something to look forward to on days that seemed never ending. And that’s why this Noteworthy Mommy hopes this extraordinary show, with plenty of heart, gets renewed for a second season!

All Rise– This courtroom drama about a newly appointed judge who pushes expectations and boundaries, premiered in the fall and I began watching shortly after. This series gives the viewer a look at the personal lives of the judges, lawyers and clerks, who fight for justice for the people of Los Angeles in an often flawed legal process.

When COVID-19 shut down television studios, “All Rise,” filmed a creative episode virtually. Titled “Dancing at Los Angeles,” we find our beloved characters experiencing a mandatory shelter-in-place order. Through Zoom like screens, the viewers get to see how the characters are coping with isolation, their lives being affected by COVID-19 much like ours. We find a clerk, who after being furloughed, takes on a part time job as a Shipt Shopper, see a daughter worrying about the health and safety of her high risk mother and view two friends having a virtual happy hour with wine in hand at the end of the day. We see characters spending more time in their kitchens, finding lost letters while cleaning out closets and navigating relationships while social distancing. Some are passing their time by exercising while others experience sleepless nights. That’s where the on-line nighttime DJ comes in. With his music and commentary, he weaves the story line together. Images of a desolate Los Angeles reminds us how our major cities, once bustling with people, now contain empty streets during the pandemic. As the characters make an attempt to conduct a bench trial virtually, we are reminded of the adaptations those fortunate enough to work from home have made during this time. Being the first drama series to be produced remotely, with actors filming everything from their own homes, this episode is historic in many ways.

The Masked Singer– Perhaps the most frivolous of  shows is“The Masked Singer.” With a majority of season 3 airing during the isolation, this is a show my daughter and I can enjoy together. A singing game show where celebrities disguise themselves under elaborate costumes with big ridiculous heads, it is the perfect cure to another day spent in isolation. This season is filled with the unimaginable. Seeing Sarah Palin unmasked as the technicolor bear who sang Sir Mix-a-Lots, “Baby Got Back,” will either make you laugh out loud or make you shake your head in disbelief at what our world has succumb to.

THE MASKED SINGER

What are your favorite shows to watch? Have you gotten interested in a new series?Leave your comments below. I promise not to judge. I hope you are being thoroughly entertained as you find something that helps you escape from the world (if only for 60 minutes) during this time of uncertainty.

 

A Social Distancing Mother’s Day Weekend…Days 54 and 55

I never imagined a time where we would have to social distance from one another to stay safe and well. A time when my extended family would find ourselves unable to gather around the dining room table to enjoy good food, fellowship and hugs! This Mother’s Day weekend looked a bit different, but it was filled with love and happy surprises and I can’t think of anything better than that!

I am blessed to have the sweetest, most supportive mother in the world! She taught me the faith, loves me and has never tried to change me. She continues to be my biggest cheerleader!

Three generations enjoying the backyard fried chicken picnic, with all the fixings, we had for my mother on Saturday. My daughter bought pink daises for her Nana.

Visiting Maw Maw on Mother’s Day and delivering her an afternoon tea.

I want to remember all of the mothers in my life, past and present, who helped raise and nurture me, who inspire me, teach me and support me. The women who make me a better person and through their unconditional love, have taught me how to be a good mother to my daughter.

My daughter looking at the pictures of the important mothers in our lives, both past and present. My dad made an outdoor display for our outdoor Mother’s Day celebration

 

I also want to recognize all the mOTHERS in our lives. Women who are not mothers in the traditional sense but are strong, beautiful role models for me and for my daughter. My daughter is blessed to have two amazing women she lovingly calls “aunt” and “auntie” and although they are not part of our family tree, they are our family and we love them so very much!

I know Mother’s Day isn’t a joyous day for everyone. For some there is great sorrow and loss. Others feel an emptiness as they yearn to become a mother and many are fighting a battle with infertility. I understand, I have been there and have experienced the pain.

Mother’s Day Tea Cups– When I taught kindergarten I had my students cut and color this paper tea cup for their mothers. A single tea bag was placed inside. My daughter created some special tea cups for her grandmothers.

Mother’s Day S’mores– We enjoyed a s’mores bar at our outdoor Mother’s Day picnic for my mother. My husband built a fire (he is an Eagle Scout) and we roasted marshmallows! Look at the variety of menu choices!

Mother’s Day Tea– A local tea shop, The London Tea Room, offered a special carry out Mother’s Day Tea, for two, with sweet and savory goodies to make for a proper afternoon tea. Complete with Laura Ashley tea cups, plates, tea pot and cloth napkins, we knew this would be a wonderful gift for my mother-in-law! As an avid tea lover, she is responsible for my love of tea parties. My in-laws have enjoyed several trips to London and planned to return this summer. Unfortunately, COVID 19 cancelled their trip. A huge thank you to The London Tea Room for bringing a taste of London to Missouri!

Tea for Two– My daughter and I enjoyed a mother/daughter tea after a virtual church service filled with beautiful Easter hymns. Our table was set with my butterfly meadow tea set and a variety of delectable delights. My little one discovered a new found love for scones and lemon curd. While we dined and talked of future tea parties after the virus, my mini me explained, “This is delightful!” This Noteworthy Mommy couldn’t agree more!

 

 

 

 

“If I Were a Butterfly”…Days 52 and 53

We ended our school week with two days of discovering insects and learning about the life cycle of the butterfly. The weather was sunny, windy and cool, so we spent time playing on the play set in our backyard, flying a kite and going on scooter rides. On Friday, we spread our wings and “Lived Generously” by putting some used books on our front porch to share with neighbors and by sneaking out of the house to deliver surprises to the dedicated teachers in my daughter’s life.

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The Butterfly Song, (If I Were a Butterfly)– When I was in college I taught kindergarten Sunday School at my church. My class loved singing  The Butterfly Song and requested it when we went to music class with Mrs. Becker. Some twenty-seven years later, I have found memories of singing the song and remember all of the motions Mrs. Becker taught us. I was thrilled when my daughter’s teacher sang it with her class during virtual circle time this month. I have taught my daughter all three verses but you can leave out some of them to make the song shorter. CLICK HERE to listen to the song and CLICK HERE to go to the official The Butterfly Song website.

THE BUTTERFLY SONG
(If I Were a Butterfly)
Words and Music by Brian M. Howard
If I were a butterfly
I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings
If I were a robin in a tree
I’d thank you Lord that I could sing
If I were a fish in the sea
I’d wiggle my tail and I’d giggle with glee
But I just thank you Father for making me, meCHORUS
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me

The Very Hungry Caterpillar– Perhaps the most beloved children’s book in my collection, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, turned 51 years old this year! I first shared the book with my daughter when she was a few days old, so when it came to studying caterpillars and butterflies, we just had to read it multiple times! We also enjoyed watching Eric Carle’s 1993 animated short, based on the book. When I taught kindergarten I used to show it to my students. (on VHS tape) CLICK HERE to watch the film. We enjoyed making some caterpillar art by dipping a cup in paint and adding additional detail with markers.

We also made a caterpillar out of a paper towel tube and fed him the corresponding colored tiles while retelling the story. We used the cards from this webiste in our retelling and added dice and a color spinner to invent our own math game!

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Butterfly Symmetry Art– After folding a piece of construction paper in half and cutting out a caterpillar shape, we decorated it to look like a caterpillar, opened it up and it unveiled a butterfly! We talked about symmetry and painted on one side of the wings, folding the paper in half to discover upon opening it back up, that the other side looked exactly the same! My daughter really enjoyed this activity so we made some extras to give to her Nana and Maw Maw for Mother’s Day. CLICK HERE to view a demonstration.

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