Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 104- Breakfast and Take-out

I wrote last year about a student who became very near and dear to my heart.  He was the only one I had to write a detention for during student teaching, and he also became one of my proudest examples.  After a rocky start, we ended up truly learning a great deal from each other.

I have another student who reminds me a lot of the boy from last year.  He got himself into a whole lot of trouble but has been working hard to turn himself around ever since.  I try my best to support these changes in every way I possibly can.  I want him to rise above his circumstances and mistakes.  More importantly, I think he is finally starting to want these things for himself. 

When he came in today, he was acting more like his old self.  He didn't want to work, had a bit of an attitude, and was squirrelly to the max.  This was disappoint to me to say the least after all of the progress he has made.  I wracked my brain to try to figure out what might possibly be causing today's shift.  It dawned on me after a few minutes. 

I had not seen him walking out of breakfast.  He probably hadn't eaten today.  Was it just today?  Did he eat last night?

My donation today was something so small, but it was also important.  I made sure that he ate today.  His whole demeanor changed, he relaxed, and we were back to making forward progress.

How many times have I taken for granted the simple fact that I can eat when I'm hungry... and that I have so much that I often stuff myself even when I'm not?  What kind of huge difference might we be able to make if we each even gave just a little?  I see things on a daily basis that are, simply put, devastating.  I see things that I think most people would rather not believe could possibly exist.  Our kids struggle and will continue to struggle in school until their most basic needs are being met.  They are so strong and so brave, and they need us.  All of us.

There's no link today.  There's no specific charity.  However, I urge you, if you're reading this, to try to find your own small way to make a big difference today.  I promise you that you will receive as much as you give.

Oooh... bad poetry!  It's been a while. 

I like cooking,
I really do.
I make chicken, pork,
and red meat too!

At day's end,
I crave balanced meals.
On goes the chef hat,
off come the heels.

But every now and then,
I'm tired.
Or sometimes
all my stuff's expired.

A menu, a decision,
a short phone call,
Tom picks it up,
and we have it all!

The take-out answers
all our wishes,
and at the end,
there are no dishes.

Thank you, take-out, you made my day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 103- The USO and "Care"

Instead of connecting today's donation to last year's post, the somewhat difficult ice cream topic, I'd like to connect it to what made my day today.  That being said, it makes most sense to flip flop the order here.

I had a really annoying song in my head all morning.  It was driving me crazy.  I won't tell you what it is because I'd like to spare you from this type of anguish.  Suffice it to say it was bad.  To make matters worse, it was not a school appropriate song, so this made the fact that it was running through my head over and over and over and over and over even worse. 

I decided to try to shove it out of my head space by listening to something else on repeat once I got to school.  This is not an entirely uncommon practice.  My laptop hooks up to some decent speakers to enhance my rockin' out, and I have myself a good time.  I selected an inspirational song for this morning's concert, "Care" by Kid Rock.  I've loved the song since the cd came out a few months ago, and it was the perfect choice.  Not only did it help me to completely get rid of the song that was not worthy, it also put me in an excellent mood.  It's a great theme song.  Interested?  Want to hear it and see the lyrics?  Why, thanks for asking! :)

Day by day my life gets colder
My ice grows thin, as I get older
Peace in pieces, bloody and bruised
I feel so helpless and confused
Cuz I hear screamin’ on the left, yellin’ on the right
I’m sittin’ in the middle, tryin’ to live my life

Cuz I can’t stop the war
Shelter homeless, feed the poor
Can’t walk on water
I can’t save your sons and daughters
I can’t change the world and make things fair
The least that I can do, the least that I can do, the least that I can do is care

I pray and pray for life’s salvation
Faith is tried and true in tribulation
Love is lost and lonely, check the news
And with these open arms I’ll wait for you

Cuz I hear screamin on the left, yellin’ on the right
I’m sittin’ in the middle tryin’ to live my life
Cuz I can’t stop the war
Shelter homeless, feed the poor
I can’t walk on water
I can’t save your sons and daughters
I can’t change the world and make things fair
The least that I can do, the least that I can do, the least that I can do is care

For the life of me, I can’t see how the devil keeps enticing me
All you see is a felon, I know God can see what’s right in me
How I can be labeled as a villain in the first place
When the worst case scenerio is my birth place
I’m just tryin’ to keep from fallin’ victim to the murder rate
Take my life lesson convincing the adolescents
There’s a God up in heaven, sendin’ down blessins and your future ain’t brighter than your present
Quit stressin’

They’re screamin’ on the left, yellin’ on the right
While I’m sittin’ in the middle, tryin’ to live my life

Cuz I cant stop the war
Shelter homeless, feed the poor
Can’t walk on water
I can’t save your sons and daughters
I can’t change the world and make things fair
The least that I can do, the least that I can do, the least that I can do is care

That Kid Rock just seems like a cool dude.  He's from my home state, and that makes me feel some sort of connection.  It doesn't hurt that my husband's claim to fame is being at the right place in the right time in college and spending a night at a house party with Mr. Kiddddddddddd Rock!  It also doesn't hurt that Kid's heart seems to beat for Detroit, it seems as if he is doing everything he can to help the state of Michigan.  Aaaaand it also doesn't hurt that he sings my thoughts somehow.


Beyond working with numerous Michigan charities, Kid Rock is known for being really involved with the USO.  I'm getting involved today too.

I made my donation because...

"Our service men and women are making remarkable personal sacrifices for our country in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other forward operating bases around the world.

That’s why the USO is committed to sharing a touch of home with our troops wherever they serve -- from free phone cards to care packages full of much needed items, entertainment tours to just a simple hug. Please make a tax-deductible donation today to help support our troops, lift their spirits, and honor their service."

My little donation won't change the world, but "the least that I can do is care."

Thank you, "Care", you made my day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 102- Big Cat Rescue and Tutoring

Tom was giggling over kittens last year, and I still giggle thinking about it all.  I let him pick today's charity, and he was slightly off the wall once again.  Our donation today was made to Big Cat Rescue

Their mission

Big Cat Rescue, founded in 1992, is an educational sanctuary devoted to rescuing and providing a permanent home for exotic (i.e. wild, not domestic) cats who have been abused, abandoned, bred to be pets, retired from performing acts, or saved from being slaughtered for fur coats, and to educating the public about these animals and the issues facing them in captivity and in the wild. The sanctuary houses the most diverse population of exotic cats in the world, with 14 of the 35 species of wild cat represented among more than 100 residents. Today the sanctuary is devoted to its vision of a world where animals are treated with respect, and its mission of providing the best possible home for the animals in our care.

Big cats need love too! :)


I tutor once a week after school in homework help.  The number of kids and the amount of help they need really varies from week to week.  I usually stay on Thursdays, but the Tuesday guy had something come up, so we switched.  Since this is only the second day of the quarter, I wasn't sure if I'd actually have any kids stay for help. 

There was just one student today, and that was kind of nice.  During the day, I seem to always have a million students who need a million different things all at the same time.  It's not often that I can give a student my undivided attention in a one-on-one situation.  I've never had that with the student who stayed this afternoon.  In his regular hour, he is in a class with a lot of... let's call them "big personalities."  He's got a rather large personality himself and is constantly seeking attention and approval from his peers.  Spending time with him in a different setting was completely different.  He listened attentively, thought and worked hard, and allowed me to help.  These are all things that I have been hoping would happen at some point, and it was thrilling.

We got the student's work for me done first, and he surprised me with some great writing.  Instead of thriving on attention from his peers, it seemed as if he was fueled by my praise.  He pulled out his math homework, and I started to help him with that.  I was delighted to discover that I was actually able to help, and I had to stifle a laugh when he said to me, "How did you get so good at math?"  I explained to him that I had to work harder at math than at other things, and we got back to work.  I think he appreciated knowing that it wasn't easy for me either.

I don't entirely know how to describe what a positive experience this whole session was.  I'll try the best I can.  When I look in a mirror, I have a tendency to pick myself apart.  This is pretty common, right?  This afternoon was different.  I felt as if I saw myself reflected in a student's eyes instead, an inside mirror.  Instead of looking for what was wrong, I was proud of the right I was able to do in our time together.

Thank you, tutoring, you made my day.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 101- St. Charles City-County Library Foundation and Kelsey*

I wrote about a studious student last year, a girl who actually revised her paper and took my suggestions the first time I gave them.  It was really quite magical.  She was a quiet girl, a fabulous writer, and one of the most avid readers I have ever met. 

I decided to make a donation in this student's honor to our local library foundation.

When she wasn't revising her paper (woo hoo!), she spent countless hours at the library reading whatever she could get her hands on.  This was evident in all of the work that she did in my class.  It also reminded me of fond childhood memories of my own.  Every summer, my mom would take Manda and I to our little Parma Library at least once a week.  We'd check out stacks of books at a time and rush home to jump into each new adventure with gusto.  I know for sure that we read through every Sweet Valley High book every written, including the special edition character stories, and I'm pretty sure we made it through every other young adult book on those shelves too.  I can even still remember the way that little library smelled.  Ahhh.

For these reasons and many more, I am thrilled to contribute to our area library system.  Call me old school, but I just don't see how any of these fancy schmancy eReaders and what not could ever compare to the full library experience, from card catalogs to flipping pages.


I just so happened to walk by Kelsey's desk while she was thinking out loud.

"This is my least boring class.  I actually don't mind coming here."

Sometimes that's all it takes.  I know it doesn't sound like a lot, but it was all I needed to get by this afternoon. 

Thank you, Kelsey*, you made my day.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 100- Baby Buggy and Meat Mallet

I really like the tagline for this charity: Love.  Recycled.

This organization ties in well with my activities last year.  A year ago today, I was at a baby shower for my dear friend Annieka to celebrate the new life she would be bringing into the world.  Little Maks, who had not yet been born, brought in some good loot that day :).  It was also clear by looking around the room that he would be surrounded by love.

The Baby Buggy charity can't provide kids with love, but it can sure help out with the loot!  It helps families in need with "essential equipment, clothing, and products for their infants and young children."  There are three different ways to get involved with this non-profit.

1. Volunteer
2. Recycle- they thrive on donations of gently used essentials
3. Donate

Since I don't have any kids yet (an no gently used items to go with them), I made my donation for the day online.

Is anyone out there donation with me?  Today or any other day?  I'd love to hear from you!


I tried out a new chicken recipe tonight, and it was delicious.  It was also fun to make... especially the first part.
I got to wield my meat mallet tonight.  Boy, that's satisfying.
The recipe involved spreading stuff onto chicken and rolling it up before baking it.  This required my chicken breasts to be flattened.  That's where the good ol' mallet came in.  I know that this blog is a positivity only zone, so you don't hear any other kinds of junk from me.  However, I'm only human, and it never hurts to take out a little aggression now and then. 

Thwack!  Thwack!  Thwack!  I think everyone could be more positive if they just had a good weekly session with a meat mallet. 
Thank you, meat mallet, you made my day.

Days 98 and 99- FIRST and Lots of Happy Hours

After a brief hiatus, I'm back in the game.  More on that later.

Last year around this time I was singing the praises of my USB port and all that it allowed me to do.  It still blows my mind sometimes to take a step back and look at the technology that has been created in my short lifetime.  My students are a daily reminder of each generation being more technologically advanced than the one before, and I'm constantly in a race to keep up. 

I found an organization to donate to that helps kids keeps up and peaks their interests in these topics.  It's called FIRST, and here's what they do:


"To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders."
Dean Kamen, Founder


Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.


The things that made my day on Friday and Saturday are also part of the reason why I neglected the poor blog.  After a week full of twelve hour days, I did this weekend a little differently.  I usually try to split the time between work and play, and work usually wins out in a much larger percentage.  This weekend, however, I played.

My happy hours were filled with... well, happy hours (as in drinks with my peers after work), but they were also just hours of joy (like celebrating a good friend's birthday).  I know I've said it before, but it is so weird to think that this people I adore so much did not even exist in my world a year ago.  I am blessed and thankful to be surrounded by people that I genuinely enjoy, and it's hard to imagine my world without them now.  That's a good thing.

Thank you, lots of happy hours, you made my day(s).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 97- Computers for Youth and Liquid Love

I wasted lots of free time playing Inspector Parker last year on my computer.  What can I say?  I like something to keep my hands free!  Perhaps it wasn't wasted at all.  It was what made my day, so it must have been good.

This got me to thinking about all of the things I use my computer for that are actually valuable (and those that are just plain fun).  It's hard to remember not having a laptop and an internet connection, and both of these things make a lot of other things possible.  Sooo... I want to help make things like this possible for others too.  That's why my donation today was made to Computers for Youth.

Here's what they do:

CFY's Take IT Home program is designed to improve children’s learning environment at home and to strengthen the school-home connection. Our program is structured to accomplish three goals:
•Enhance the educational resources in children's homes

•Improve parent-child interaction around learning at home

•Help teachers contribute to and take advantage of a stronger school-home connection


I have a one Mountain Dew a day habit.  This is a massive cutback from the days of yore.  I was addicted to the stuff in college, but I think that this one per day thing is reasonable.  My habit is barely even a habit, especially because I don't drink much coffee.


I have cut this whole thing back even more lately.  I didn't drink a single drop of pop the whole time we were on vacation.  I still have my daily lunch Dew at school, but I sometimes go without on the weekends.


Today was another 13 hour day at school, with parent teacher conferences following shortly after our regular work day.  I needed my Dew.  I opened my mini classroom fridge, ready to pull out a can and hear the click and ahhh of it opening.  PANIC!  It was empty.  Since I've been cutting back, I forgot to replenish my supply.  I checked my wallet, figuring I could just buy my daily Dew from the vending machine, but alas- I had no singles, only a five.  During a break, I e-mailed three of my coworkers asking if any of them had change.

The first one e-mailed back offering change with a smiley face.  Score!

Then, the second one came into my class carrying a cold bottle of Dew that she bought for me from the vending machine.  I don't have change, she said, but I did have $1.25.  Double score!

The third had to leave the building on his plan, and he came back with a gigantic gas station sized Dew in a big ol' cup.

Liquid love!

My coworkers are the best, and I don't just mean that as a figure of speech.  They really are.

Thank you, liquid love, you made my day.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day 96- Cascades Humane Society and Larry*

I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Victor Zywiec on this day last year.  He's my brother and my mom's empty nest companion (besides my dad, of course).  He's also a little black cocker spaniel cutie, in case that wasn't clear. 

I thought about the things Victor likes to try to inform my donation decision for the day.  His favorite thing is my mom, but she already gets to pick a few things this year.  He also adores stinky chewies, chicken, and cereal, but I wasn't super inspired by any of those.  He seems to thoroughly enjoy his... ahem... trips outside, but there was nothing there to draw on either. 

I did come up with a good place to send my money to, though, and I think Victor will approve.  He has been extremely lucky to get to live with my parents.  Having grown up in that same household, I know how blessed he is.  There are a lot of dogs in the Cascades Humane Society in my hometown who I'm sure are hoping to have some luck with where they end up too.  I hope that my small donation can help to make some other nice dogs happy!

Larry* is in a class of mine that struggles.

There are lots of different kinds of kids in this class, but they all adore Larry.  If we're being honest here, I do too.  He's pleasant and charming and makes an effort to include everyone.  He's also kind of a troublemaker, but that's not really an issue for me.  I thrive on the personalities of my students, and this one has a larger than life personality.

It just so happens that Larry looooooooooooves attention.  We indulge this every now and then to keep him happy and to keep the good times rolling.

All of these things came together today, and we had a moment together (a series of moments, really) as a class.  Everything clicked.  Anyone out there who has ever taught will know what I mean, I think.  Each class has its own personality, style, cast of characters, and set of eccentricities.  Each class has its own sweet spot, and when you get there, with everything working in perfect harmony, you can have some really magical educational moments together.  This makes me giddy.

My kids were performing skits that they had written today.  The focus was on foreshadowing.  Before each skit reached the climax of the plot, students had to hit the "pause" button so we could talk about what kinds of hints and clues they had provided to foreshadow future events.   Students would follow this up by making predictions.  Finally, the groups would finish their skits to show how it all played out. 

Larry is a blurter, and I knew that he would want to have all kinds of input in today's activity.  After the first skit, I found our sweet spot.  I'd call on a bunch of other kids to point out the hints.  When it came time to make predictions, we'd end up with Larry every time.  Why?  The kid is pure gold.  He'd start off with a line like, "Ok, so here's how this is about to go down," and then he'd take off with a spot on summary that included all of the other kid's ideas.  Kids who rarely participate were raising their hands just to hear their ideas repeated by Larry.  Larry was listening, reigning himself in, and saving up his comments for his grand finale summaries.  The lesson was working.  We were all grinning. 

Kids were having fun and didn't even realize they were learning.

Thank you, Larry*, you made my day. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 95- MoveOn and My Job

Let's reason our way into this one.  I wrote about cheap yet satisfying laughter last year.  For today's donation, I was having trouble coming up with something that would fit this bill well.  I thought about who might provide me some cheap laughs, and I think Will Ferrell definitely fits that roll.  He's all about cheap laughs.  One big charity that Will supports is MoveOn (  While researching this one, I saw that there's a Jon Stewart piece on the home page with the title, "You Can't Simultaneously Fire Teachers and Tomahawk Missiles."  That was good for some cheap laughs!  

I have been thankful for my job a million times on here and in a million different ways.  Today is different.

Public education is receiving less money from the government and less money from tax revenues.  Less money means budget cuts and tough choices.  Budget cuts mean positions cut.  Are you following yet?

I was presented with a real possibility several weeks ago that my position could be in jeopardy.  There were other cuts that would affect people who would in turn shuffle around to other positions, one of which was mine.  This was and has been scary.

The good news is that I am confident that I work as hard as I can and do more than what is asked of me at my job.  If I was going to lose my job, I told myself, it would be through absolutely no fault of my own.  While this was somewhat comforting, the whole situation has still been stressful.  I couldn't help but worry about having to be back on the job market, and it is a dismal market at that.  I was disappointed that after all the planning and creating I have done this year I might have to start all over again.  I didn't even want to think about leaving the coworkers I have come to know and adore so much this year.

It had been long enough since I first heard of all this that I had made peace with the situation.  Going into today, when I knew I would find out what was happening next year once and for all, I had already decided that I have worked too dang hard to be defeated by anything.  Although I would have been devastated to leave this job, I just know I would have busted my tail to create some new opportunity. 

Bloom where you're planted.

Thanks to a number of factors that don't really need to be discussed (some shuffling in which people kept their jobs), I got good news today.  I can't even begin to explain how thrilled I am.  Ecstatic.  Overjoyed.  This will be an extremely long week with a full schedule plus two nights of parent teacher conferences.  I have gained some much needed perspective to more than help me get through it.  I will gladly do what is asked of me because I am so incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to do my job.

I don't take for granted the fact that I get to do something that I love every day.  It is another important way in which I feel as if I am the luckiest girl alive.  Our superintendent said something in a meeting a few months ago that I have kept with me ever since.  People were discussing the state of public education and the lack of funding and the endless attacks on our profession... all the chaos.  She told us that she understands how tough it is right now and how easy it is to get caught up in all of it and to let it get the best of us.  However, we have to control what we can control.  What's within our control?  We can get up every day and teach our kids in the absolute best way we know how.  I love that perspective, and I think about it often.

I am blessed to have been given the gift of at least another year's worth of days to give another group of kids the best I have.

Thank you, my job, you made my day. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Day 94- Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish and Manda's Poster

Since I wrote about hymns last year, I thought it would be a nice idea to donate to one of the places that taught me most about hymns.  Yes?

I grew up attending Queen of the Miraculous Medal Parish.  I attended CCD there, made my First Communion there, served as MOH in the Philo wedding there, and spent countless Sundays there with my family.  I also learned many different hymns there, songs I still adore and sing my heart out to on a regular basis.

It's only fitting that I donate to the religious education program at Queen's today as a small thank you for my musical education.


Dear Manda,

It was nice to see you today, and we were so pleased to get to see your poster and to have you walk us through it.  It is even more impressive in person.  It was really cool to see what you do every day, and what you do every day is really cool!  I'm proud of your successes at work (including your most recent one that you shared tonight... I won't mention it here and spill your news... you should get to do that). 

You're doing such great work!  Thanks for letting us in on your world for a few minutes.  I hope you enjoyed your extra smoked meats as a nice snack :).


J Ro

Thank you, Manda's poster, you made my day.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Day 93- Student Athletes Leading Social Change and Desserts

We're baaaaack! (reluctantly... I'm pretty sure I asked Tom to move to Mexico at least a dozen times)

Our vacation was just right.  We ate, we drank, we read, we got nice tans, we ate, we drank, we read... it was everything I had hoped it would be and more.  We're relaxed and happy and think it was worth every single one of those piles of pennies we paid.  I'm also glad that the blogs I wrote before we left posted when they were supposed to : ).  All of that being said, let's get down to today's business.


Our Michigan hockey team won the CCHA Championship on this date last year.  Unfortunately, this was not repeated this year, but we did find out that the boys will be playing in the NCAA tournament just down the road in St. Louis on Friday.  There is even speculation that the recent loss may be just the fuel the team needs to reignite their fire going into the NCAA tournament.  Let's hope that's the case.

In any event, I found a fabulous organization that some of the hockey players and other athletes at Michigan are involved in, Student Atheletes Leading Social Change.

I think the name of this charity should give a great indication of the mission of this program.  Their current cause is to "lift Ecuadorian villages out of extreme poverty through education."  The primary focus is to build good schools and furnish them with the resources and supplies they need.  My $10 (that's the minimum on this website) is supposed to help buy classroom supplies.  You know I like that!  I can really appreciate the idea that supporting education will help to support a country and begin to fix some of their problems.  Mmm hmm.


I'll be using this word "desserts" both literally and somewhat loosely throughout the course of this post.  Let's just hope it makes some kind of sense!

The first dessert that pleased me today was a real one.  I didn't eat it, though.  Puppy did.

Inspired by General's love for ice cubes, Tom hunted down some dog ice cream at the grocery store a few weeks ago.  General has been enjoying it as much as we anticipated ever since.  We only give it to him every so often so that it's still a treat (and I think Tom might be slightly worried about ruining Puppy's fabulous figure).  Since we haven't seen Puppy for a week, we thought it was a special occasion today when he came home.  He agreed and happily licked that little dish clean.  As hard as it was to come back from vacation, we were so very glad to have our son back and to be able to give him a special treat.  Reunited and it feels so good!

The next nice "dessert" (this is where I'm using it a bit more loosely) was our basketball game today.  Which game?  Oh... the one where the #8 seed (Michigan, of course) ALMOST beat #1 seed Duke in a hard fought battle.  Yes, I realize that we didn't actually win.  However, today was the cherry on top of the season anyway.  This is a team who was predicted to round out the very bottom of our conference this season.  This turned into a team who made the tournament-- and impressed in the Big Dance.  It's a team full of players who realize that the sum is better than its parts.  It's a team with some pretty dang good parts, though.  It's a team that will return all of the same scrappy, hard-working athletes next year, athletes who also just so happen to be students with real majors and impressive GPAs as well.  It's a team led by a great coach too.  He may not be a media darling like... ahem... some others, but that's not important.  A win would have been amazing, but this team is exciting even without it.

The last dessert was homemade by yours truly.  Strawberry Shortcake.  Yum.  I didn't take a picture, but I'm sure you can imagine.  It looked a lot like this one anyway.

Thank you, desserts, you made my day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Day 92- My Tan

One of my coworkers challenged me to a contest before we left.  She was going to Florida, and she said that we should see which one of us would come back with a better tan.  Clearly I have fooled her with my wintery-white-hasn't-been-thoroughly-tanned-in-three-years-but-still-tans-well-when-given-the-chance skin.  It is also apparent that she does not know me that well yet.

I don't lose.

I have been responsible.  I have tons of sunscreen and a hat, and I have been very careful to tan in the safest way possible.  I know that no tan is really safe, but I also know that it makes me happy to be toasted a golden brown every now and then.

Plus, I like winning.

Thank you, my tan, you made my day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Day 91- Vacation Wardrobe

Usually at this point in the week I'm trying to figure out what in the world to wear to work.  I'm ready to be done with dressing up, but I have not yet reached Casual Friday.

I'm not having that problem here on vacation.  I have been waiting for this vacation for so long that I had already picked out the perfect vacation wardrobe in my head before I even went shopping for it.  There are dresses-- oh, there are lots of dresses.  A dress is easy.  It's one clothing choice instead of two.  I like it.  There are shoes but not too many shoes.  I picked out two neutral colored pairs of shoes that go with everything else in the J. Ferri Vacation Collection.  I may just be wearing my flip flops 24/7 by now.  I'm totally okay with either of those scenarios.  Whatever I'm wearing must be fabulous because I only brought fabulous with me. 

I'm not sure if I'll be able to go back to my day to day clothes when I come back.  I'm thinking maybe I can just add a cardigan and some tights to my vacation stuff and call it a day.  Can I wear tights with flip flops?

Thank you, vacation wardrobe, you made my day.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Day 90- Total Relaxation

I've been away from my job, my computer, my phone, my stress, my worries, and all my other "stuff" for a few days now.  I'm thinking it's probably pretty safe to say that I have entered the total relaxation stage of vacation by now.  I'm maybe even to the point where I'm taking one of those dorky pictures with my toes in it to show that I'm where I am, and you're not.

Yeah... Tom did that on our honeymoon.  I don't even care that it's dorky.  I'm relaxed, remember?

Thank you, total relaxation, you made my day.

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day!  Do you think they celebrate that in Mexico?  Ummm... yes, I think WE celebrate that in Mexico.  In the most relaxed way possible, of course.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Day 89- Reading for Pleasure

I do a whole lot of reading on a daily basis.  A lot.  A ton.  A bunch.  Whenever the kids write something, I end up reading over 100 pages of work.  This happens often.  I teach English.  Whenever the kids are reading something in class, I read it six times in a row.  I'm constantly reading e-mails and brochures and teaching books and possible texts to use in my classroom and all kinds of other things.

What I don't always make time for is reading just for the fun of it.  Don't get me wrong, some of the other things listed above are fun to read.  However, there's some kind of purpose behind that reading.  Even if I didn't want to do it, I still would.

I am reading for pleasure this week.  I'm finally making time to read the Hunger Game series that all of my kids have been reading about.  I'm getting to some of the books I haven't read yet from Christmas.  I'm reading like crazy and loving every minute of it.

Did I mention I'm reading by the pool with something tasty on one side of me and my toasty husband on the other?  Life is good today.  Cue the Zac Brown Band.

Thank you, reading for pleasure, you made my day.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Day 88- Cool (but not too cool) Pool

I bet we're enjoying the weather.  If we're living in the forecast we saw before we left, we are happy campers.  By campers, I mean we are happy guests at a resort... a resort with a fabulous pool.  We are certainly not complaining about the hot weather because we are periodically enjoying dips in the pool to splash our way back into extreme happiness.

Thank you, cool (but not too cool) pool, you made my day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Day 87- Eats and Drinks

Seeing that we are at an all-inclusive resort, I would guess that we are enjoying some amazing eats and drinks today.  Have we made it to the buffet yet today?  Hmm... probably twice.  Have we tried out on of the fancy schmancy restaurant choices for dinner?  Oh... I would think that might just be a safe bet.  Did we take advantage of the all-inclusiveness at the pool all day in the most icy fruity drinky kind of way? 

I'll let you answer that one for yourself.

Thank you, eats and drinks, you made my day.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Day 86- Explanation and Safe Travels

Blogger has a handy dandy feature that will allow me to "post" while I'm gone on vacation.  I'm hoping that this works out!  If it does, there should still be something posted every day until we get back.

I'm going to be donating to one charity this week instead of one per day, but this is something I had planned on doing anyway.  Wednesday marks the one year anniversary of the day my grandpa got to meet God face to face.  I can't believe it's only been a year, and I can't believe it's already been a year all at the same time.  I still miss him and think about him all the time, and my heart still aches for my grandma and the rest of my family as they try to heal.  We all have necklaces made from his fingerprints, and I know that this is just one of many ways that we all continue to keep him close to our hearts.

Because of this and because of the fact that most of my posts last year around this time had to do with this, I will be making this week's worth of donations in honor of Grandpa Gene.

Grandpa lived courageously with arthritis for decades.  There were many days when his hands and feet and all kinds of other things just didn't serve him the way they were supposed to.  Grandma Katie, his constant nurse and angel, was always by his side to give him his medicine or to help him with his shoes or to massage the cramps out of his legs/feet/whatever else was bothering him.  While this debilitating disease took over his body, he did not allow it to take over his spirit.  He lived with the sassiness and spunkiness that we all loved so much that it still makes us laugh and hurt at the same time... and sometimes we laugh until it hurts too.

This week's donations have been made to the Michigan chapter of The Arthritis Foundation in his honor.  This was started at the University of Michigan, a fact that makes the whole thing even more fitting.  The foundation is all about helping people to cope in a number of different ways, advocating for those living with the disease (or those living with the one living with the disease), and researching for a cure.  Their website is a real wealth of information, from daily living tips to letters people can send to members of our government.

I love you, Grandpa. 

By the time this is posted, we should be safely to our Mexican paradise.  It will be hard to pick just one thing from all of the things I have to be grateful for, but I'll simply say that we are thankful to have arrived safe and sound.

Thank you, safe travels, you made my day.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Days 84 and 85- The Red Cross and Anticipation

The footage of the tsunami damage is hard to watch.  It is impossible to even begin to imagine what it must be like to live through it or to have lost a family member or to still love someone who has not been located or to have lost everything...

Stuff like this just makes you want to help, doesn't it?  I seriously contemplated joining the Peace Corps in college because it seemed like a good way to actually do something.  For now, the best I can do is to pray and to donate.  My donations for yesterday and today have been made to the Red Cross and earmarked to help victims of this most recent tsunami.

Tom and I have been working our buns off, and we have not been on a proper vacation since our honeymoon (that was almost four years ago, for those of you who are counting).  In just a few hours, that statistic will change.  The anticipation has been building for months- months!- and it has been at an all time high for the past few days. 

It's been really fun to have something to look forward to like this.  We've been shopping and packing and packing and gathering and giddily giggling with excitement.  It's been so much fun simply preparing for this vacation that I just know actually experiencing the trip will surpass all our expectations.  I should be sleeping right now, but I may very well be too excited to accomplish that task.


Thank you, anticipation, you made my day.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Day 83- The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation and Maddie*

My former (and future?) applesauce obsession, referenced on the blog on this day last year, can be traced back to one seed, I suppose.  The seed leads to the tree, the tree leads to the apple, and the apple leads to the most delicious of fruit sauces.  Mmmm.

It is only natural that I donate to The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation today in honor of my beloved applesauce.  They are a nonprofit focused on planting edible fruit trees.  I love the lovely language they use to speak about the work they do:

Simply put, our goal is to encourage and inspire the planting of 18 billion fruit trees around the world. The land lives for fruit trees. Trees improve the soil, air, and attract water. Water attracts animals. Animals enjoy fruits and spread seeds. 18 billion fruit trees can spring out of the soul of one human being — we believe in thinking big, and loving even more.

That last line is especially pleasing to me.  Plant on!

As I was nearing the end of yet another grading marathon, I got some much needed comic relief.  Nestled between her warm-ups, Maddie wrote me a note.

Dear Mrs. Ferri,

Can you draw me a picture of a cow?  That would be amazing!



I laughed out loud.  This girl is such a character.  She is completely wacky and funny and comfortable in her skin, especially for a middle school girl!  As awful as it is for a teacher to say, she's not nearly as concerned as she should be about her academic career, but I think she's going to turn out okay anyway.  I adore the kid.  My reply was this:

Dear Maddie,

I wish I could.  I am a terrible artist!  Please accept this pig and my apologies instead. :)

Oink oink,

Mrs. Ferri

I gave that pig my best try!  I even practiced it on a separate sheet of paper first.  I hope to hear a little giggle when she gets her paper back tomorrow.  It is my own small offering as a thanks to her for helping me laugh my way through the end of tonight's stack.

Thank you, Maddie*, you made my day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Day 82- Sunshine Kids Foundation and Bridesmaid Dress

It's funny sometimes how these days line up.  I cracked up when I looked at last year's post about my bright yellow sweater and how I wore it to "sunny up" my day.  It turns out that I did the exact same thing today with a blousy floral shirt. 

In the spirit of the yellow sweater and what it represents, today's donation was made to the Sunshine Kids Foundation.

The Sunshine Kids Foundation adds quality of life to children with cancer by providing them with exciting, positive group activities, so they may once again do what kids are supposed to do . . . have fun and celebrate life!

We look forward to the day when The Sunshine Kids Foundation will no longer need to exist. Until that time, the entire Sunshine Kids family is dedicated to providing the most exciting activities, trips and events for as many young cancer patients as possible.

I hope my donation can help bring a little bit of sunshine to someone else. :)

Let's keep this short and sweet.  Mama's gotta get to bed so she can make it two more days...

Know what else is short and sweet?  The dress I just ordered to be a bridesmaid in my delightful friend Carolyn's wedding.

I'm so excited for her (and for the lucky Mr. K. who gets to marry her).  They're going to have one heck of a celebration, and I am ecstatic to be a part of it! : )

Thank you, bridesmaid dress, you made my day.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Day 81- Loads of Hope and Paczki

Clean laundry is somewhat hard to come by at times in the Ferri household lately.  Tom has been really good about picking up my slack on this one a lot of the time, but it seems as if there is always laundry to be done.  Even when it's clean, it needs to be folded.  When it's folded, it needs to be put away.  I'm sure you know what I mean. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm still totally and completely in love with clean clothes.  I love the smell of laundry.  I love how it feels and looks too.  While others dream of sleeping in piles of money, I dream of sleeping on mountains of clean clothes.  I must admit that this has been a little too close to my reality lately... I'll get this whole Superwoman-I-can-do-everything act down soon, I promise.  I'm getting closer!

In any case, I wish for clean laundry for everyone.  The Tide Loads of Hope program shares that very same goal, and it is a perfect place to make my donation today. 

In times of disaster people turn to the most basic of human needs—and one of those is clean clothes. The Tide Loads of Hope program provides relief by means of a mobile laundromat. One truck and a fleet of vans house over 32 energy-efficient washers and dryers that are capable of cleaning over 300 loads of laundry every day. We wash, dry and fold the clothes for these families for free. Because, as we’ve learned, sometimes even the littlest things can make a big, big difference.
How it works:

1.  Disaster Strikes- A disaster occurs making relief necessary for the families affected.
2.  Help Is Sent- We send our mobile laundromat fleet to the location.
3. Laundry Provided- We spend multiple days at the disaster site washing, drying and folding clothes for the families affected.

How great is that?  There are a few different ways you can pitch in.  Check out the website!

I purchased a "Loads of Hope" t-shirt, and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the program.  I have also decided to do a giveaway using the shirt with my classes.  I've been thinking of ways to try to get them involved in volunteering and service projects, and this shirt can serve as a perfect incentive once I being to implement.  It's a twofer today. :)


In celebration of my half Polish heritage and of Fat Tuesday, Tom got me some paczki before he left the other day.  He also got some for me to take into work to share.  Pretty much everyone I work with is on a diet, and they all refused leftover pizza from my Ac Lab treat on Friday.  I rationalized that there was no point in taking any of these in today because I would just be turned down once more.

I then proceeded to eat more of these bad boys than I would care to admit.  By myself.  Delicioso!

I thoroughly enjoyed this once a year treat.  In fact, I probably still have a little powdered sugar and filling hiding out somewhere on my face and no one here to make fun of me.  Bliss.  I'll get to that later.  I will also continue to enjoy the rest in preparation for the two-piece swimsuits I will be wearing shortly.  Oops.  Double oops.

Thank you, paczki, you made my day.

P.S. Did you know that chocolate paczki exist?  I'm not sure how authentic these are because I have never seen them before, but honestly, they have taken me beyond the point of caring about this type of small detail.  I don't even like chocolate that much, but  Breathtaking. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Day 80- Girl Scouts of the USA and Little AM in the A.M.

It's funny to see that I was enjoying Girl Scout cookies at this very time last year.  It makes sense.

I already made a donation to the Girl Scouts a few weeks ago, and my husband did too.  However, we got many boxes of cookies out of the deal.  Today I made another donation to these lovely ladies independent of any kind of transaction of sweets.

Beyond their delicious treats (oh boy are they delicious), the Girl Scouts are good for all kinds of other things too. 

Girl Scouts of the USA is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls—all girls—where, in an accepting and nurturing environment, girls build character and skills for success in the real world. In partnership with committed adult volunteers, girls develop qualities that will serve them all their lives, like leadership, strong values, social conscience, and conviction about their own potential and self-worth.

Even though my own career as a Girl Scout was tumultuous and short-lived (check out last year's post), I still very much believe in the program and in what it can do for young girls.


I don't usually wake up on Monday mornings with a "case of the Mondays", but I must admit that I did today.  I just wanted to crawl back into bed and stay there for the day... or maybe even for the five days left until Spring Break.  I wasn't my usual self, and I knew that I would have to make the choice to be happy and positive today.  This does not always come naturally to me, but I always believe in the power of putting myself in check and choosing my attitude.

Luckily, I got a little help when I got to school.  My Spanish teacher friend just so happens to have one of the cutest little boys I've ever seen.  I adore both of them, mother and son.  It just so happens that he was at school with my friend this morning and that he likes to explore the hallway down by my room.  I was oh so excited to see him!  After all, I am the president of his fan club.

Little AM is always a bit shy with me at first.  I suppose that this is partly because he has not realized that we're supposed to be best friends yet.  He also probably doesn't know that I hear all kinds of cute and funny stories about him from his mom and that I have gotten her into the habit of starting these stories with "our child" or "your child", as if I have my own small claim to a piece of him.  The good news is that we are just one tickle fest and one smelly pineapple sticker away from friendship.

I know this because it happened.  This morning.  It is hard to be filled with anything but joy when listening to the giggling of an adorable child.  For those of you keeping score...

Case of the Mondays= 0
Little AM= 1

Thank you, Little AM in the A.M., you made my day.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Day 79- Growing Voices and Royal Beach

Last year at this time, we were laughing our buns off at Zach Galifianakis on SNL.  It turns out that his girlfriend Quinn Lundberg co-founded a great charity called Growing Voices.  I'll be supporting this in my small little $5 donation kind of way today.

Here is what they do:

GV creates a direct line of support between donor and recipient, which addresses issues of accountability and promotes a humanistic approach to giving. We hope that by providing a network geared towards a respectful informational exchange, gifting, and no fee volunteering, you will be inspired to participate in change at the grassroots level.


On vacation, I don't want to turn red.
I'd much rather tan in a tanning bed.

This will help me to prepare,
so I won't burn when I get there.

Is there anything else? you ax (ask, you know)
Why yes, it helps me to relax.

While I won't tan my life away,
I did let it make my day today.

Thank you, Royal Beach, you made my day.

Day 78- Orphan Foundation of America and Panera Rachel

Another teen, another donation :)

The Orphan Foundation of America helps teens in countless ways.  Here's their "What We Do" that gives the basic idea.

OFA helps former foster children become successful adults. In most states, foster children leave the social services system when they turn 18. In the eyes of the court they’re adults, but few 18 year olds are emotionally, mentally or financially able to support themselves. Without someone to guide them, too many end up homeless, unemployed, incarcerated or pregnant. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

I must confess that we cheated on our regular Panera for dinner.  The nice thing about a good chain restaurant is that the delightful food is the same delightful food no matter which location you go to.  We got a bonus bit of joy from Rachel, the girl who waited on us.

When Tom told her he wanted a pick two, she told him they were out.  "Bummer, huh?"
When he ordered his chicken noodle soup, she responded, "Chicken noodle soup with a baseball bat!" 
When we laughed at this remix of hers, a take on "Peanut Butter Jelly Time," she thanked us for getting the joke.

The rest of the conversation carried on in the same kind of way.  I thoroughly appreciate someone who makes the most of her job and has a wealth of personality to boot.

Thank you, Panera Rachel, you made my day.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 77- and Divine Intervention


I was dreaming sweet Pottery Barn dreams on this day last year, thanks to that dang catalog coming in the mail.  My donation today was made to a place that helps others to dream those sweet design dreams.

The tagline pretty much says it all.

"Architecture for Humanity.  Building a more sustainable future using the power of design.  Through a global network of building professionals, Architecture for Humanity brings design, construction and development services to communities in need."

They currently have many projects going simultaneously in the U.S. and around the world.  I'd like to build the world a home/and furnish it with love... :)  Sustainable future for people in need?  Yes, please.

I just can't fail to mention this divine intervention!  The rest of this definitely can't be written in bad poetry form.  It wouldn't work.  You'll see.

I was driving home the regular route from work tonight.  The day and week were running through my head the way they often do on my Friday afternoon drive.  It was actually almost evening, and I thought about how glad I was to have left school in time to beat home the crazy thunderstorms that were racing our way from another town just west of here.

As I wound through the large neighborhood that makes up the majority of my drive home, I belted out some country tunes and contemplated what we might have for dinner tonight.  Then, out of nowhere, I saw something out of the corner of my eye.  I slammed on my breaks.  A few seconds later, I was moving again, on my way home.  The only difference now was that my whole body was shaking, and I was trying not to cry.

A dog had sprinted across the street right in front of my car.  He was running toward what looked to be his family, a few young boys and a mom.  Luckily, I was only going between 25-30 mph (the speed limit in the neighborhood).  Luckily, I saw him in time.  I also saw his joyful family to my left calling him home, and I saw their faces change as the whole thing unfolded, horrified.  When the dog was safely to his house, the family grabbed him and held him tight.  I drove on.

Man, I was shaken up... that was a close one.  I held it together for the rest of the way home, but my knees almost buckled when I stepped out of the car into my garage.  Whew.  I couldn't stop thinking about when I was young and the sight of my dad carrying our family dog up the driveway.  That dog had not been so lucky.  I couldn't stop thinking about the awful thing that almost was this afternoon and how even though it wouldn't have been my fault, I don't know that I could have ever gotten over that.  I couldn't stop thinking about how if I had left school a second earlier or driven a little faster or paid less attention, I would have had a devastating afternoon... weekend... who knows.

Now I'm not thinking about any of that, not really.  Instead, I am just so incredibly thankful for the divine intervention and the happy ending.  Somewhere a few miles from here, a family is settled in with their big, silly, happy dog tonight, and I am incredibly grateful for that.

Thank you, divine intervention, you made my day.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 76- Teen Living Programs and The Promise of Smileys

In honor of a teen who made my day last year, I'd like to donate to a place today that shares my mission to change the lives of teens in the most positive way possible.  Whatever I see at school, good or bad, can often be traced directly back to what's going on at home.  What if there is no home?

The Teen Living Programs organization does wonderful work that I believe in.  Check it out.

"We believe all youth are entitled to a home where they know they are loved, independence is encouraged, competence is expected, and compassion is exemplified. Thousands of youth never experience this kind of home, and many become homeless. Every year 9,000 youth in greater Chicago experience homelessness, and every night there are 2,000 youth who have no place to call home. Teen Living Programs, established more than 30 years ago, exists for these youth.

We deliver comprehensive, long-term solutions to youth without homes who strive for self-sufficiency and community connection. Teen Living Programs offers housing, job training, educational support, mental health counseling, holistic health care, and life skills training within a community of professional and passionate support. TLP’s comprehensive, long-term approach to youth homelessness reduces the number of youth who might otherwise become homeless adults. TLP also limits youth homelessness from taking root through its outreach and prevention programs in neighborhoods and schools."

While a lot of kids like to give off the impression that they couldn't care less whether or not I like them (which I can see right through with a few), others try their best to flatter their way into my good graces.  This amuses me because what some of them don't seem to realize is how very much I like them anyway.

My fourth hour tried to convince me today that they really should be able to suck up in order to get better grades.  I shot that one down quickly.  However, I threw them a little bone.  Today's warm-up asked for three examples of something.  I told them that if they wrote more, I just might throw in an extra smiley face when I was grading the warm-ups.  The funny thing is... worked!

They all tried so hard, and I could literally hear pencils writing in a flurry all over the room.  Just a spoonful of smileys help get the warm-up writings down in the most delightful way.  I win.  They win. 

Thank you, the promise of smileys, you made my day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 75- Operation Homefront and Pinwheel Steaks

Last year's entry sure made this year's donation easy!  I wrote last year about a yellow ribbon I always spied on the way home.  It is a symbol for those who are serving our country, but it is also so much more than that.  The yellow ribbon also represents a family back here at home who needs support as well.

Operation Homefront gives assistance to military families while their loved ones are deployed.  They provide a whole variety of services, from food to auto to moving to furniture to holiday programs and all kinds of other things.  I can only imagine how tough it must be for some of these families while their loved ones are away, and I am thankful for the opportunity to help them in my own tiny little way.

While it may be just a small gesture I can make, there is a big thought attached to it... and a bunch of prayers too.  It may be a little selfish.  I like watching those videos of people coming home to their families.  They may me cry.  In a nice way.


Tom and I collaborated on a wonderful project tonight.

We tried this new pinwheel steak recipe and loved it!  The recipe included many of my favorite ingredients- steak, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and all kinds of lovely spices.  Our little creations don't look nearly as good in the picture as they tasted, but I promise you that they were deeeeeee-lic-ousssssss!  They made our house smell like a quality restaurant, and we both agreed that they belong on future menus in this household.

We enjoyed our steaks with mashed potatoes (made from scratch, not from the box) and gravy, salad, and a fresh fruit salad.  By "fresh fruit", I mean as fresh as you can get in March in the middle of the country, of course.  I'm looking forward to enjoying this meal all over again at lunch tomorrow :).  

Thank you, pinwheel steaks, you made my day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 74- Princess Project and "Charles"

Around this time last year, I was coveting one-shoulder dresses.  It turns out that since then, I actually finally got myself one.  I wore it to a wedding this past summer, received a few compliments, and found myself pleased with the whole thing. 

Fast forward to the present.

While trying to find some kind of way to give another girl a special moment in a special dress, I stumbled upon Princess Project.

This organization collects gently used formal dresses and distributes them to girls who cannot otherwise afford to go to prom.  I've heard of places like this before, and I absolutely love the idea in so many ways.  First, while going to prom is not a must do kind of thing, it can be a huge deal for a teenage girl.  Being left out seems as if it is a big deal at the time too.  I adore the idea of helping girls to have their "princess" moments where they can feel special in pretty dresses and be a part of it all.  It appeals to the Cinderella loving side of me for sure.

I also think it's a smart kind of recycling idea.  It's crazy how much girls spend on their dresses these days.  It's nice to see that they have an opportunity to pass these dresses on to brighten the lives of other young girls.  What a positive message to put out there!  Instead once-worn-money hanging in closets, these dresses can continue to provide special moments as they are passed from owner to owner.


The story my classes read today was a total hit.  This pleases me.  Mucho.

"Charles" is a short story by Shirley Jackson about a boy named Laurie (yes, a boy).  He comes home from kindergarten every day and tells his parents all about the mischief Charles, another student in his class, causes at school.  Charles does all kinds of terrible things, from getting another girl in class to say bad words to kicking the teacher to yelling loudly to disrespecting guests in his classroom.  From all of the stories Laurie is delighted to share, it becomes quite clear that Charles is a bad, bad boy.

There are clues and examples dropped throughout the story about Laurie's own misbehavior.  He demonstrates this through the way he acts and the way he treats his parents on many occasions.  A few students in each class picked up on them, but the rest of them did not realize until the last line of the story that Laurie and Charles were actually the same person!! 

It was so much fun for me to be the teacher today.  I made sure to make it up to the front of the room by the end of the story each hour so that I could watch the changes on each student's face as he or she realized the truth.  It was just as fun in 7th hour as it had been in 1st.  The kids actually enjoyed it so much that they were talking about it outside of my classroom.  Success! 

I also created an assignment to go along with the story and with some of the skills we have been working on, and I was really hoping that my students would play along and have fun with it.  They each had to write about their own "Charles", and I gave them an opportunity to produce some artwork to go along with it.  Again, success!  I was thrilled... floored, even... to have students approach me outside of class to share what they were working on and to tell me they were enjoying their work.  I'm often just hoping that the response I get will live up to my expectations.  Some days I'm even just hoping that they stay awake and participate.  To have my students enjoy my lesson and assignment even more than I had hoped for, that's just divine.

Thank you, "Charles", you made my day.