Author Archive

Author:
• Friday, July 01st, 2011

Three years ago today, I was laying in bed at Darnall Army Medical Center in Ft. Hood, Texas, anxiously awaiting the arrival of our oldest daughter. We’d lost two pregnancies prior to her and lost her twin in the first trimester, so I’d said many times over that I wouldn’t rest easy until I held her in my arms.

Little did I realize that holding that sweet baby in my arms for the first time would open the door to a whole new set of worries … and sleepless nights … and emergency room visits. (In fact, my daredevil princess missed her own birthday party today as a result of one of those emergency room visits. …) But, oh, how much fuller this precious child has made our lives. She is indeed a priceless, precious gift from God. So it was only fitting that between the gifts and the cake, we take time to share one of our favorite books, God Gave Us You by Lisa Bergren.

God did give you to us, my precious Jessica Elizabeth, and I thank Him for the gift of you daily — even on the days some childhood mishap lands us in the ER.

Author:
• Friday, July 01st, 2011

As we move into the month of July, the month of summer fun and patriotic fervor, I plan to spend the next couple of weeks helping my preschooler learn more about the country in which she lives. Today, however, we’re focusing on our neighbors to the north.

For while America gears up to celebrate its 235th birthday, Canada is celebrating its 144th year of national sovereignty. Canada Day, observed July 1, marks the anniversary of the British North America Act of 1867, which merged the provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Province of Canada into a single nation in its own right.

So far today, we’ve located Canada on the map, colored a Canadian flag, and enjoyed homemade pancakes complete with Canadian maple syrup. We’ve also read several books by one of our favorite Canadian authors, Robert Munsch whose book The Paper Bag Princesshas forever altered my daughter’s perception of princesses. (Forget sitting around waiting to be rescued by a knight in shining armor! My daughter would rather outsmart the dragon!)

My daughter is currently obsessed with alphabet books, so had I planned ahead, I would have ordered a copy of M Is For Maple: A Canadian Alphabet for us to share. Ah, well, there’s always next year …

Author:
• Friday, June 11th, 2010

Today marks the beginning of the 2010 World Cup games … which may not a lot to most North Americans. World Cup soccer, however, is a Big Deal here in South Korea. Games are broadcast on giant television screens at subway stations, stadiums, and other public locations all over the nation. In fact, it seems that half the country is wearing red and cheering Team Korea onto victory with the words “Dae Han Min Guk!”

While we’re not huge sports fans and won’t be joining the throngs who are standing out in the rain to watch the televised Korean games, I do plan to use the games as a springboard to help my students learn more about world geography. We’ll be locating each of the 32 countries participating in this year’s World Cup games on a map. We’ll match flags with their respective countries, and we’ll group countries according to continent. We’ll also sound out the names of the various countries participating in this year’s games and practice writing them in English.

If you’d like to bring World Cup fever into your classroom, you can download the World Cup 2010 word search and country-continent match I created for our elementary students by clicking here.

Author:
• Friday, June 04th, 2010

Some 2,600 years ago, according to tradition, there was born a slave child who would become known as the ancient world’s chief teller of fables. Truth be told, many of the fables commonly credited to him were composed by others long after his death. Still, the collection of stories known as “Aesop’s Fables” have stood the test of times. They’ve served as lessons to the young and not-so-young for centuries and have been translated into countless languages. A comprehensive collection of Aesop’s short, moralistic tales can be found at http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/greekliterature/a/aesopcontents.htm . My favorite print collection is the beautifully-illustrated Usborne volume Aesop’s Fables (Stories for Young Children). Why not sit down with your favorite child, a plate of Baklava (or a bowl of fruit and Greek yogurt ) and enjoy some of these timeless tales today?

Author:
• Thursday, June 03rd, 2010

After an international move and a long hiatus, I’m making an effort to resume blogging on a semi-regular basis. Offline, I’m a mom, a wife, and a kindergarten teacher, so free time is limited. I can’t guarantee daily posts, but will try to highlight minor holidays, special days, observances, and celebrations at least a couple of times a week.

If there’s an upcoming event that you’d like to see mentioned here, feel free to drop me a line at webmaster@theholidayzone.com .

Thanks, and happy reading!

Author:
• Saturday, January 03rd, 2009

As if we hadn’t seen enough goodies between Thanksgiving and Christmas, January 3rd is none other than chocolate covered cherry day. Now, this particular celebration is the brainchild of candymakers and is designed to sell more of those¬†$1 boxes that people buy as gifts for people who surprise them with gifts, people they don’t know what else to buy for, co-workers, distant relatives, etc. But I grew up on my sister’s homemade chocolate covered cherries, and like most of my sister’s handiwork, her chocolate covered cherries have no commercial equal.

Now that we have families and children, neither of us has an abundance of time to devote to making candy — especially labor-intensive candy. Still, boxes of Queen Anne’s find little love in this household. So we’ll be enjoying a less-time consuming blend of chocolate and cherry goodness today in the form of Cherry Chocolate Cake.

Cherry Chocolate Cake

  • 1 box devil’s food cake mix
  • 1 can cherry pie filling
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 2 eggs

Beat eggs. Add almond extract. Stir in cake mix and cherry pie filling. Pour into a greased, floured 9 x 13 pan, and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes.

To frost, combine …

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 c. milk

in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for two minutes. Remove from heat and stir in …

  • 1/2 tsp. almond extract
  • 1 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Pour over partially cooked cake and spread evenly.

Category: Winter  | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
Author:
• Friday, January 02nd, 2009

According to several sources, January 2nd is none other than Happy Mew Year for Cats day. Since our feline readership is limited, I’m not sure there’s a lot of value in highlighting this particular day. But cat lovers might want to greet their furry friends with extra cuddles today (or a can of tuna fish — most of the cats that have adopted me over the years would choose tuna over cuddles any day). That said, I’m not at all sure the average cat cares one whit about the start of a new year, be it on January 1st OR 2nd. But the neighborhood strays assure me that they DO care about cuddles and tunafish, regardless of the occasion.

Moving on to other matters, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month, National Get Organized Month, National Hot Tea Month, National Volunteer Blood Donor Month, and Oatmeal Month.

Now, to get offline and get busy organizing. (Does packing away Christmas decorations count?)

Author:
• Thursday, January 01st, 2009

Happy 2009 to one and all!

New Year’s Day is the traditional time for New Year’s resolutions, a tradition I tend to avoid. But I’m embracing it this year for a couple of reasons. First, resolutions can be good motivation. Second, they can serve as a good excuse. What do I mean by that? Well, this year I’m making two resolutions:

(1) Update this blog at least semi-regularly. Daily would be ideal, but “life” sometimes gets in the way of “ideal.” So I’m shooting for at least five times per week — motivation.

(2) Avoid fast food restaurants. Granted, we eat very little fast food as it is. But we made an exception last night, and I paid for it dearly. Within an hour, “run for the border” became “run for the bathroom.” And so I ushered in the New Year.

All in all, NOT a pleasant experience. Hence, the resolution. “I’m sorry, honey. I can’t eat at {insert fast food chain}. Remember my New Year’s resolution?” — excuse! (Please note that for the purpose of this resolution, Chipotle and Subway to not constitute fast food. Vegeterian burrito bowls smothered in guacomole totally rock, and veggie delite subs on honey oat bread aren’t too far behind.)

Category: Winter  | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
Author:
• Thursday, December 04th, 2008

“and checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s naughty and nice …”

Yes, folks, December 4th is none other than Santa’s List Day. Rumor has it that the jolly old man wakes early on this day, pours himself a ginormous mug of peppermint hot chocolate, then begins scrutinizing conduct reports from the past year.

As for me, my Christmas list was finished well before December 4th. (And if Santa faced prospects of braving December mall traffic with a five-month-old, his probably would have been as well!) Now I’m just waiting to see whether my Christmas letter reached the North Pole in time for my *own* Christmas wish to get on Santa’s list: All the gifts currently occupying space in various closets beautifully wrapped beneath the tree. Well, that plus a new vacuum, Yankee candles, and perhaps a copy of Eat, Drink & Be Vegan: Great Vegan Food for Special and Everyday Celebrations

Author:
• Tuesday, December 02nd, 2008

Happy Special Edcation Day! And a special shout-out to all of the the teachers who go the extra mile to make a difference in the lives of their students.

It’s hard for me to believe that Special Education programs have been federally mandated for just 38 short years.¬†Thankfully, some states and school districts had were making an effort to meet the educational needs of ALL children even before President Gerald Ford signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act into law. But the passage of that crucial piece of legislation opened previously-closed school doors to an estimated one million children.

As any educator or parent can attest, America’s educational system is a work in progress. We still have miles to go in the quest to meet the educational needs of every child. But we’ve made great progress in a few short decades, and that’s an accomplishment worth celebrating.