Monday, December 12, 2011


I haven't written in this blog in so long. But since March, here's an idea of what I've been learning at work:

How to stay calm in chaotic situations
How to breathe deeply when nothing is going my way
How to keep my composure when everyone around me is grumpy
How to be content with a not-even-close-to-perfect day
How to listen to complaining without wanting to explode
How to let go of unrealistic expectations
How to make it through a day, one half hour at a time
How to smile at people who are looking down their noses at me

It's been awesome! :)

Okay, but in all seriousness, I have been thinking about what I have learned from my work as a preschool teacher over the last two and a half years. The last six months have been really trying, and recently as I've been contemplating them, I've felt a little upset that I didn't go back to graduate school during this time, rather than working too hard for too little money at a preschool. But over the last couple days, I've changed my mind.

I am so glad I chose to teach preschool rather than go back to school. Working with small children has taught me things about people, life, and myself that I don't think any graduate class could have taught me. And, it has brought me so much joy. True, there have been many times I have wanted to scream, pull my hair out, or throw my hands up in despair. But there have also been sweet moments of perfection, when you just want to stop time and savor the sweetness. I've often thought, "Wouldn't that be so nice to have all those moments put together in a music video." Moments of dancing, laughing, hugging, singing, comforting, running, joking, story-telling, tickling, praising, innocent conversation. When I look at my job in this light, it feels sublime.

I had a few of those moments today, and I want to share one of them with you. This week we are learning about Christmas, and so this afternoon I took the time to tell them the real Christmas story of Jesus' birth. They listened so quietly as I told them about angels, donkeys, stables, shepherds, and the Baby Jesus. When I finished telling the story, G* raised his hand and said, "How do you know Jesus?" He was asking me so matter-of-factly, but that question touched me so deeply. While I told the story, I never said that I knew Him, I was just telling the story of His birth. But I do know Him, and I was so grateful that G* asked, so I could tell them. I told them about the Spirit, about scriptures, and about prophets. When I mentioned the Bible, G* said, "Me too!" I could tell he was touched by the Spirit, as we both testified that we knew Jesus. G* is one of my favorite students, almost the same exact age as my nephew Josh, and so this conversation with him was very special.

And on a totally different note, this morning 8 of my 10 children had arrived, and we were talking about which countries their parents came from. Each of my 8 children had at least one parent who came from a different country. Here's the list:
1. China
2. Pakistan
3. India
4. Lebanon (G*'s parents)
5. Nigeria
6. Germany
7. France
8. Denmark

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dream Schedule

I've found that keeping myself grounded in reality is good for my mental health, but today I indulged in some daydreaming concerning my schedule at work. Every half hour we rotate to a different room in the school for a different type of activity or lesson. Because so many classes share the same rooms in the building, no one can have the exact rotation schedule they would prefer. But if I were to have my dream rotation schedule, it would be:

6:30-8:30 Breakfast/Free Play
8:30 Calendar/Phonics/Handwriting
9:00 Outside
9:30 Math/Science
10:00 Snack
10:30 Language/Social Skills
11:00 Art
11:30 Outside
12:00 Lunch
12:30-2:30 Nap
2:30 Language Arts
3:00 Snack
3:30 Outside
4:00 Spanish
4:30 Computer
5:00 Music
5:30-6:30 Free Play

But alas, my current schedule is:
6:30-8:30 Breakfast/Free Play
8:30 Outside
9:00 Snack
9:30 Calendar/Language/Handwriting
10:00 Computer
10:30 Phonics/Social Skills
11:00 Math/Science
11:30 Lunch
12:00 Outside
12:30-2:30 Nap
2:30 Snack
3:00 Music
3:30 Language Arts
4:00 Spanish
4:30 Art
5:00 Outside
5:30-6:30 Free Play

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, I can get back to real life again! :)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Life in the Slow Lane

It's been a while since I blogged last here. I spent October and part of November in Ethiopia (see my other blog for pictures), and once we got back life was pretty busy with helping my new co-teacher Kimberly do her assessments and parent-teacher conferences, and then taking care of my own assessments and parent-teacher conferences. And then it was on to getting ready for Holiday programs, Holiday parties, and Holiday gift-giving! And then on Dec. 23 we flew to Utah and had a wonderful time celebrating with family until returning on Friday night. The last couple days have been really laid-back, and I've had a chance to reflect, write in my journal, and look forward to the upcoming year.

One of the things I wanted to record is the wonderful news that I am now part-time at work!! I work 7-4 Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays, and Britta (who recently came back from maternity leave) teaches my class (oops, I mean our class--still getting used to that!) Tuesdays and Wednesdays. So far it's worked great to share a class, and I hope it stays this way! It has been so wonderful to have three days a week instead of just Saturday to get things done like shopping, cleaning, cooking, scheduling appointments, serving in my church and community, etc. Life is seriously good for me right now.

Right after I went part-time I started feeling some serious temptations from Satan to think I'm a loser for not feeling like I could stay on top of everything while also working full-time. I felt like people were judging and looking down on me for not working full-time when I didn't even have any kids. After some self-reflection, I realized that it was actually me judging myself for not working full-time, and then projecting those feelings on the people around me (something I've done before and am trying to stop doing).

I decided I needed to confront those feelings, and so I did.

As I did so, a talk and a story came to my mind. First, the story:

When we lived in Utah, one of the members of my stake presidency was an older, retired man. He was very giving and helpful, and he had a knack for fixing things, including cars. And so he decided that one way he could use his skills to help others would be to spend time driving on the freeway looking for people who were pulled over on the side of the road and needed assistance.

In a talk one Sunday, he explained that after making this resolution, he packed his truck with his tools and went speeding along the freeway, looking for people pulled over to the side of the road. Well, it turns out that he liked to drive fast, in the left lane. And he realized that in the left lane, by the time he spotted someone pulled over on the right shoulder, it was too late to merge over four lanes to help that individual. He realized that in order to help these people, he had to drive in the right lane--the slow lane. He said at first this was difficult for him, but eventually he got used to it and was able to help a lot of people that way. Since hearing this talk, I've thought many times of what he said next--"If we truly want to serve God's children, we need to slow down and spend more of our time in the slow lane."

Now, the talk. It's called "Don't Be in a Hurry" and it was in last June's Ensign. I really recommend reading it. It includes quotes from some of my all-time favorite General Authorites, Elder Maxwell, Elder Wirthlin, and Sister Parkin.

Elder Maxwell
: "Each of us will be more effective if we plan some time for contemplation and renewal."

Elder Wirthlin: "Sometimes we feel that the busier we are, the more important we are—as though our busyness defines our worth...That we do a lot may not be so important. That we focus the energy of our minds, our hearts, and our souls on those things of eternal significance—that is essential."

Sister Parkin: "Take time to slow down and ponder so that you can feel the Lord’s love for you."

So, after some study and prayer and contemplation, I'm feeling a lot better about going part-time. I am just so excited to fill up this year with good things--serving others, developing new talents, and trying to enjoy life a little more. :) Here's to a fabulous 2011!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Enlarging My Mind

Recently I've been contemplating how I often have to think of many things at once at work--several needs to meet, several disasters to avert, several materials to gather or disperse, several children to direct or comfort, several principles to teach, etc, seemingly all at the same time. Some days I feel like my head is running around in circles and might explode any minute. One day, the thought occurred to me, "I need more room in my brain to process everything at once." Upon thinking this, the scriptures Alma 37:8 and Alma 32:28 came to my mind. These scriptures say the word of God enlarges people's memories and their souls. It occurred to me that if I align my life with God's truth, He will help enlarge my mind and heart so there will be enough room for it all.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Understanding Time

My three year olds are just beginning to understand the basic concept of time. But it is so funny to hear how they express their thoughts in relation to time, because they are usually way off. Here are some examples of what my kids have said and what they actually meant.

M*: "My mommy is going to have her baby in 5 minutes!"
Translation: "My mommy is going to have her baby very soon!" (her mom was about 38 weeks along in her pregnancy)

N*: "I went to Mexico yesterday!"
Translation: "I went to Mexico a few months ago!"

G*: "My birthday is tomorrow!"
Translation: "My birthday is in a few weeks!"

N*: "I want my daddy! When will my daddy pick me up?"
Me: "Your daddy will pick you up in about four hours."
N*, with a satisfied expression on his face: "Okay!"
Translation of what N* heard me say: "Your daddy will pick you up soon."

Friday, July 23, 2010

I Love My Baby Ducks

Every 30 minutes at work my kids and I move to a different classroom. This can be a bit tricky to get 8-12 three-year-olds mobilized and walking in a line to the next room, but since we do it so often, the kids are usually pretty good about it. We have a few strict rules with transitioning, and one of them is that my children must always stay behind me in the hallway. I walk backwards in the hallway so as to see my kids at all times as we move from place to place. If I were to lose control and have one of my kids run off where I couldn't supervise him/her, I could lose my job.

One time when we were transitioning to the playground, I noticed that there were some patches of mud between the door of the building and the play area. So I told my kids, "Listen, when we walk outside, we have to pretend that we are a family of ducks. I am the mommy duck and you are all my baby ducks and you have to follow right behind me in a straight line, okay? There's mud outside and I am going to lead you around it, but you have to waddle right behind me." The kids loved pretending they were baby ducks following in my footsteps, and so it worked like a charm. But I didn't think much more of it until later that day, when we were transitioning in our normal every-day way, and my sweet N* said to me, "Ms. Abbi, you're our Mommy Duck and we're your Baby Ducks!" Melt my heart. I think whenever I see a family of ducks in the future, I'll think of my sweet kids at Creme and how they followed me around like a line of baby ducks.

Writing this story made me think of two others I want to record:

Often my kids will try to walk backwards in the hall, pretending they are me, and I have to remind them that only teachers walk backwards in the hall. My kids think they are so funny when they do this, and even though I don't show it to them, I think it's pretty funny too.

One time when my twins A* and A* were new to Creme (and the English language), A* ran off to the nearby computer room as we were all walking into the music room. When I counted all the children in the music room, I started to panic, realizing that I was missing A*. I ran and quickly found him in the computer room, smiling like it was a game. Like I said, this is a very serious matter, and so I told him very firmly, "You cannot do that. Never do that again. You have to stay WITH Ms. Abbi. You have to stay BY Ms. Abbi." When A* saw how upset his running off made me, he was very sorry for what he had done. And you know what he thought I was saying when I said that last sentence? "You have to say, 'Bye, Ms. Abbi.'" Because right after I said that, he said very solemnly to me, waving his hand, "Bye, Ms. Abbi." Hahaha. Oh my sweet A*!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Life is Short

I'm coming up on my one year anniversary of working at Creme. This is the longest I've ever worked full-time in one place before. And it's gone by so fast!

I've been thinking recently about how much my kids have changed in the short 11 months I've been at Creme, and it blows my mind how different they are now than 11 months ago. They've all grown up so much.

And this is even more apparent as I think of the children in the younger classes. There were babies when I started that are now in the 2 year old class! And there are big babies now that weren't even born when I started! Sheesh!

If there's one thing I've learned from working in this profession, it is that babies and young children don't stay babies and young children for long. They grow up so fast. It makes me want to cherish every second I have with these darling, innocent, precious children of mine. The time we have to spend with them in their first five years is really so, so short. It's a lesson I hope to remember when I have children of my own.