5 Things I Loved About Last Week 12/13/14

celebrate link upRuth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration on her blog. I appreciate this invitation to reflect on the positives of my week.

1. Insight. I had an important insight about my son’s recent behavior and was able to find the right words to articulate it to him. He was furious for about 10 minutes and then came to tell me I was right about everything. Naming it is often three-quarters of the battle around here, and this is a big one. We’re getting right to the core of what hurts the most. I know we’re going to be stuck here for awhile, but now I understand what’s going on and we’ve got some words to talk about what he’s feeling. My insight helped him have his own insights–and even put them into words. “It’s hard to accept love from you when I didn’t get what I needed from my first mom” and “It’s hard to feel like I deserve to be loved.” He went outside to shoot hoops for awhile and calm down, then he came back to tell me one more thing he realized: “I do deserve love, and you need to keep working with me so that I can believe that.” Gladly! I’m pretty sure anybody who lived in my house and saw what it was like on a daily basis to parent my son would think I was absolutely crazy to say this, but there is nothing I love more than being his mom.

2. Unfinals and Finales. It was finals week, and two of my classes elected to have unusual finals. In Digital Literacy, we borrowed the unconference edcamp model and had an unfinal. We ate and talked and figured out where we’ve been and where we’re going. And we ended with a picture book! (Thanks, Carrie Gelson, for introducing me to this wonderful book!)

Just the right message for the conclusion of our class: Change the world!

(And Beth Shaum, if you happen to see your Twitter handle on the whiteboard, that’s because I was telling students about your Ignite presentation and the cool stuff you do with your Instagram!)

In British Lit, we had a Finale–don’t forget the “e”–with lots of food and creative presentations, art, and games focused on the 1000 years of British Literature that we read. I generally don’t believe in final exams, but these two classes convinced me that finals can be awesome.

3. Winter Break. I always have big plans for winter break–#bookaday, #workoutaday, #bakingaday, #writingaday, #amazinggourmethomecookedmealaday, etc. You get the idea. The holiday is so busy with kids and Christmas and crazy (holiday+trauma kid=CHAOS), so my big plans don’t always come to much. But in theory, I’ve got a month ahead of me to read and write and cook and do yoga all day every day. I’ve got stacks of books and recipes, writing projects bubbling around in my head, and plenty of yoga DVDs.

4. Work.  The end of the semester always makes me reflect on how grateful I am to have work that I love, work that I find perpetually engaging, challenging, complex, rewarding, work that is intellectually, emotionally, spiritually fulfilling.

5. Beautiful spiders. On Thursday morning, I saw this tweet from Tristen:

I had no idea what a Layla was, but hey, our final was a creative finale, so if she needed to bring her Layla, I was all for it. Besides, I thought maybe it was a typo for laptop.

But it wasn’t.

Tristen’s Layla is her pet tarantula!

I don’t like spiders. I never have. I tend to scream when I see a small one in the house. But I do like doing things that scare me, and there aren’t a lot of those that don’t involve heights. So I marched right up to Layla and admired her. And found a surprising amount to admire. Tristen is really, REALLY into her spider. She spent the class holding her and did her presentation one-handed so that Layla could have the other hand. And THEN Tristen said the magic words: it was okay for other people to pet or hold Layla.

And so I did!

I had no idea that holding a tarantula was on my bucket list, but it was! And now I’ve done it.

Layla was very lightweight and soft and had the most adorable little hooks at the ends of her elegant legs to help herself hold on. I’m sure there’s a name for those little things, but I don’t know what it is. I had sort of imagined that Layla would have been de-venomed before becoming a beloved pet, but no.

And the very best part? I tweeted Tristen later to thank her for introducing me to Layla and letting me hold her, and this was her response:

Isn’t the world a wonderful place?





16 responses to “5 Things I Loved About Last Week 12/13/14”

  1. Juliana Ellington Avatar

    Great celebrations this week!! I am still in ‘HMOG’ place with your holding Layla, but how cool is it that you had a chance to do this, AND that you took it!!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      T. was truly impressed by the photo too–he told me I was very brave and then said, “I taught you how to brave, huh?”

  2. carriegelson Avatar

    OMG A tarantula. Don’t think I could do that one. In fact, I’m pretty sure. No way. So big awe of your bravery. And that #1 on this list. A beautiful thing.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Yep, love my #1. I am not exactly sure what came over me in that classroom but I was bound and determined to touch that spider! I wouldn’t have minded holding her for longer because she was actually kind of sweet! It was fun to do something so outside my own little box!

  3. Linda Baie Avatar

    There are a number of pet tarantulas around, & when I’ve been to places that are their habitats, they are there, not as scary to me as scorpions because I can see them. That spider is a cool green, Elisabeth, & good for you for holding & petting! Of all you wrote, it seems you had a good, good week! Keep going…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I love how Layla looks like she’s posing in that photograph, like she knows just how pretty she is and how she ought to position her legs for maximum effect. Perhaps I’m anthropomorphizing?? I felt sorry for some of my students who are terrified of spiders. Hope I don’t get a call from the dean now! LOL.

  4. Holly Mueller Avatar

    Oh my gosh, I got goosebumps when I scrolled down and saw the tarantula!!! I don’t think I could’ve done that! Kudos to you! I loved your ideas for final exams and that you had Beth’s handle on the board. 😉 I just shared What Do You Do with an Idea? with my 6th graders last week. I love that book! A great pairing book is The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I was actually trying to find The Most Magnificent Thing to share but couldn’t find it anywhere on my shelves. What To Do With An Idea? was my second choice, but it worked incredibly well. My students came up with the ideas for the finals. I decided to try something different and put the decisions for the final totally in their hands. It was a good choice!

  5. Kendra Avatar

    Keep looking for The Most Magnificent Thing! So wonderful. Winter break: #sonecessary; #coffeeuntil9, #morecoffee, #writingandreadingandcleaning too! I hope your winter break is restful and wonderful! Thanks for sharing your week! (That tarantula! Wow!)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Most Magnificent Thing is one of my favorites this year, for sure. I’m thinking that I loaned it out and now it’s been permanently borrowed. Oh well! I got some of the cleaning out of the way yesterday–now if the house could just STAY clean. With two kids and 7 pets, that’s pretty unlikely!

  6. jarhartz Avatar

    So much to love in your week. Naming and then describing, defining is such a brave act. You do have a huge job in parenting but what a job it is. While a challenge, most will never know your joy. And all the other stuff… unfinals and ideas and tarantulas — oh my. The tarantula looks good in the picture but in real life, I don’t know if I could handle that as gracefully! Beautiful week. Hoping your relaxing and cooking and other stuff goes as hoped.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      What a wonderful way to look at things, Julieanne: the challenge may be great, but so is the joy. I think I can safely guarantee that I will never again write a blog post featuring a tarantula–though Tristen did try to convince me that they make extremely nice and cost-effective pets!

  7. Carol Avatar

    Could so relate to your comments about your son. My boys don’t do holidays well at all. Even after us being a family for ten years and having relatively pleasant ones. I love the idea of finals and finales. Not so sure about the spider part. You are very brave!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I scored some major points with my son when he saw that photo! It’s very rare that he thinks I do something cool, LOL. Even in just 4 years, I have seen improvement: our holidays have settled down some and it’s possible to have a mostly nice day. But the overall experience is such a mixed bag. So much grief and sadness for traumatized kids–so many moments of being confronted with all they’ve lost, all that hasn’t worked out right in their lives. At least it’s an excuse to keep things the way I like them anyway: low key!

  8. irenehughes Avatar

    I am glad your son is realizing he deserves to be loved! What a wonderful Mom he has.

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