Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Perfect Teacher Appreciation Gift

This post comes a few weeks late, especially if you consider that school has been out for nearly three weeks now.  No matter. It's impressive that I got it out at all (especially when you consider how far behind I am in my blogging).

Liam has a lot of teachers and helpers at his school who work with him, but only one who does the actual one-on-one therapy with him daily. Each day, she goes and pulls him from his class and spends a full hour trying to wrangle him, get him to sit still, engage him, motivate him to find his voice, encourage him to learn, and ultimately to SPEAK.  Miss Terry is her name and she's wonderful.

You know how you just get the occasional teacher who you can tell just by looking at her how much she loves what she does?  This is one of those teachers.  She has that classic eye sparkle that every amazing teacher has, and she is ALWAYS smiling. Always. I'm sure she has bad days, but she never lets it show.  I guess she must hang her woes on a hook when she comes through the door and perhaps just picks them back up when she leaves.  Whatever she does, it's clear that she doesn't let them interfere with the amazingly important work she does with little people like Liam every day.

It's important to me to actually do something for teacher appreciation for my kids' teachers. They work hard and aren't paid nearly enough.  Because of the number of kids I have and the fact that several have multiple teachers, I counted 15 teachers to do something for this year. FIFTEEN!  That can get a little spendy if a person isn't careful.  For the teachers' aids, I was able to get something small and simple that would represent Liam, but I wanted to do something special for Terry.

I thought and thought about it.  I could do a gift card, but that felt impersonal.  I could get her a lovely matted print with some inspirational saying on it, but that didn't seem like something that represented what she and Liam do each day.  Nothing quite fit, so I decided to stop a minute and really think about what Liam would get her.  If I could take him to the store and let him choose her anything he wanted, what would he choose?  That's when it hit me. I had the most perfect gift that perhaps I have ever given.

It was bright and cheery in color, but had a unique shape all its own.  If you tipped it just right, it even looked like a smile.  It had a thick outer skin that led to something sweet and delightful on the inside.  It was the one thing Liam would bend over backwards for and work had to achieve. It was the first beautiful word Terry had ever gotten him to say.  It was perfect.

So, off I went to Hobby Lobby where they carried special fancy plastic fruits and in I walked to ask for this one special item.  "Excuse me, do you know where I can find a plastic banana?"  The guy working there pointed me in the right direction and off I went to find the most beautiful and perfect plastic banana I ever could find.  From there, I went to the ribbon counter where I handed them my banana.  "I'd like enough of that bright green ribbon to make a beautiful bow to go around this banana, please".  The lady at the counter cocked her head a little and raised a brow as I explained what it was for.  Then she smiled and said she'd wished she could be there when I gave it to Liam's teacher.  I got another glance at the checkout counter, so I explained why a plastic banana would need a huge bow and a fancy gift bag one more time. Again, the lady mentioned wishing she could be there to see Liam give it to Terry.

I finally made it back to the school with my gift in hand and a note explaining why I'd chosen such an unusual gift for teacher appreciation.  After all, it wasn't something Terry could really use.  It mostly would just stand as a reminder of the hard work she'd put into one squirrely little kid.

Before she got the card or opened the gift, she looked at me and said "What do we have here?  Is it a banana?".  In that moment, I knew I'd gotten the perfect teacher appreciation gift.

Walk 4 Hearing

For the past couple of months, I've been working to help raise funds for the Walk 4 Hearing to sponsor the Hearing Loss Association of America. Liam's school had its own team, but I didn't find out about it until after we'd already created our own family team. It didn't really matter how we did it as long as we were doing it as a family. I was so excited to work on raising funds, get matching shirts for us all, and enjoy some time as a family working toward a common goal. In the end, we raised $270 to benefit the cause and had an AMAZING time. The pictures tell the story much better than I ever could.

Liam didn't drink very much of his juice, but he was really good at dumping it.
CJ really wanted to become friends with this huge flock of Canadian geese, but they weren't as excited about it. This goose kept sticking his tongue out and hissing at CJ.
Liam's entire snowcone ended up on the grass.
Liam also decided to take the play-dough he got out of the container and put his lemonade in it.  Then he spilled it. Again. Anyone else seeing a trend here?
It took him a whole 20 minutes to destroy his pinwheel!
It was SO NICE to see all five kids being so good to each other.
After snow cones, free toys, and lots of food, they were all smiles.
I really did try to get  nice pictures of the kids, but CJ is too silly to let me do it.
Drezden insisted on walking instead of going in the wagon. He was lapped repeatedly by everyone...including blind people in wheel chairs.  
At the start of the walk, it all looked pretty easy.
Even our princess found things she enjoyed.
Rachel couldn't resist Jewel the Clown. She is pretty sure they're best friends now. Jewel the Clown came to find me later and tell me how delightful Rachel is.  Who knew??
Fun family photo!
Byron and the kids getting ready to walk 4 hearing!!!
Right before we left, we made sure we got a family picture taken.  I love this one!!!

Overall, it was an amazing and completely wonderful day. We helped raise money for a cause we believe in whole-heartedly, spent time as a family, made friends who also have hearing loss, and built lasting memories. Sometimes being a mom to children with hearing loss really  has its perks.