A Gratitude Discount

Happy Monday! Today I'm excited to announce that Tiffany G. from Missouri has won the Kelso's Choice Kit for Families. And get this ... our friends at Cerebellum want to thank us for our interest in their product with a gratitude discount off one of their Kelso items. Don't you love the sound of that?

Coupon Code: KCTHANKS15
Shop here: Kelso's Choice
Terms & Conditions: Get 15% off of any one Kelso item (including the new Kelso’s Choice for Families kit!) Not valid with any other discount or offer. Expires December 1, 2015.

On another note, as we roll into October,
it's time for me to unplug for a bit.

I wish I could say that this cat is as therapeutic as she looks.
But she's not.
Not cuddly at all. Not one little bit.
She is good, though, at knowing when to play ... and when to rest.
So I'm taking a self-care cue from her.
And taking a break.
To rest, restore and reboot.
Because we all know that we can't serve from an empty vessel.
Not to worry; I'll be back in a couple of weeks.

Until then, cape up and crusade on.

And, in the words of Kid President, keep "making cool stuff happen!"


Daring To Be Brave

Hello dear reader, and happy Friday.

Today I'm excited to introduce you to a fun new book
that just might help your child understand and conquer a fear or two, 
but not before I tell you about my trip to NASA yesterday.

John's supervisor invited me to talk with a few leadership giants
about Fixed and Growth Mindset, so I went to share Carol Dweck's work with a Star Wars spin that I adapted from {here}.

I have it on good authority that they really connected with the Mindset song 
I wrote for them and played on the Ukulele.
You are my Padawans, my Mindset Padawans ...
Anyway, so many fun presenting opportunities presenting themselves.

And now, today's book review:

Title: Daredevil Duck
Author & Illustrator: Charlie Alder
Publisher: Running Press Kids
Date: May 12, 2105
Suitable for ages: 3 and up
Theme: courage, friendship, fear
Brief synopsis: Daredevil Duck only dreams of being brave. Will he be able to muster up some courage when mole's yellow balloon gets stuck in a tree and he needs Duck's help?

Opening page:


Resources:  Read the thoughts of a five-year-old {here}.
Read a review at Kids' Book Review {here}.
Read Keila Dawson's PPBF post {here}.
Compare and contrast this Duck tale with another book
with a conquering-fears theme from this list
Share this motivational clip about courage {here}.

Why I like this book: If you've already watched the little clip, you've seen the flip-flap feature that instantly endeared me to this treasure. I love lift-the-flap books, but it's rare to find them beyond the Board Book stage. 

Daredevil Duck totally wants courage to be his superpower. He wants do brave stuff, to be a superhero, but time and time again, his fear gets in the way, and he's scared silly. This is super common in younger children, so I predict they'll connect with this beautifully-illustrated Duck tale that has sent my heart soaring.   

As an enrichment idea, encourage students to create their own Fear-This Flip-Flap book listing or drawing out things that scare them. Under the flap, they can show ways in which they imagine processing through to conquer that fear. Give them a yellow balloon as a tangible reminder about Duck and his adventure.


Planting Our Peace Promise

Yesterday we celebrated International Day of Peace
and today I'm still feeling it.

The energy, the excitement ...


the passion, the peace.


This year instead of making the pinwheels in Art class, students took the Pinwheels for Peace template home to work on them as a family. 
And wow, did we get some AmAzInG homework back. 

It's our gift to the community, this peace sign, one thousand pinwheels strong, whirling our promise to be peacemakers out into the world.

Decorated with colorful symbols and reflective words that depict peace, each pinwheel, like the family that created it, tells a story.

 How incredible it was to congregate for our annual planting event under beautiful blue Friendswood skies, to share with the world
 that peace has to start somewhere ... 

why not let it begin with us.


Strength, Comfort, Hope & Peace

Today is a somber Sunday for my extended family; 
a season of sorrow enshrouds us as we say good-bye to little Jack.

This is how I want to remember my young cousin, 
ready to take on the world of Kindergarten, 
with his John Deere lunchbox in his hands 
and a sweet sweet smile on his face.
That's why this isn't a post that's coming very easily to me.
In fact, I wasn't going to write it at all.

But I don't want to miss the opportunity to honor and thank everyone who prayed with us during Jack's short illness and share our gratitude for the compassion and kindness you have shown during this difficult time.

You've lit prayer candles to give us hope.

You've written heartfelt poetry to make us smile.

You've sent us beautiful music to lift us up.

You've hosted a bootcamp to support us financially.

You've unified to draw on strength that we don't have right now.

And you've found inspirational words to help us heal.

You've called, texted and emailed; all of these treasures wrap us in a huge hug and bring us strength, comfort, hope and peace.

We are grateful to everyone who is willing to journey through this grief alongside of us. Because it won't be easy, to wade through this season of sadness. 
In fact, because we love so deeply, it's going to be painful.
Excruciatingly painful.
Heartbreakingly painful.
Some days, it may seem impossible, 
especially for those closest to Jack, 
to keep going now that he's gone.
We might look lost.
Or feel angry.
We might just need you to sit and cry with us.

But our family's faith is strong, just like little Jack was,
and it will get us through what lies ahead, until we meet again.

So today, we ask that you remember Jack's parents, Jason and Renee, his big sister Ella, and his extended family and village of friends in your thoughts and prayers. 

We celebrate the gift of five years that this little angel was here, 
to make us laugh and bring us joy . . .

and we take comfort in knowing that Jack's guardian angel made an appearance in the nurses' station monitor just as he was about to fly to his heavenly home.


PPBF: When A Dragon Moves In Again

It's Friday, Friday, a PPBF-Friday and guess who's back?
I predict you'll be on fire for today's pick.

Author: Jodi Moore
Illustrator: Howard McWilliam
Publisher: Flashlight Press
Date: September 1, 2015
Suitable for: Kindergarten through 2nd
Themes: imagination, new baby, sibling jealousy
Brief synopsis: This sequel to When A Dragon Moves In finds our little tyke and his family nesting as they await the arrival of their baby. Will there be room enough for Dragon in this family of five?
Opening page: If you help your dad build a castle, a dragon might move in.


*Visit the author's inspiring page {here}.
*Compare and contrast the author's two Dragon books.
*Make an origami dragon head using these You Tube instructions.
*Click {here} for some dragon coloring sheets and printables.
*Activity idea: Infuse movement into your read aloud by encouraging kids to do a jumping jack, mountain climber, squat thrust, burpee, or the dance move of their choice every time they hear the word dragon

Why I like this book: This hilarious text takes an honest and authentic look at the sibling jealousy that can ensue when a new baby joins the family. From bowling with baby bottles to flying for the newborn like a superhero, the dragon-boy dynamic duo does its best to get the attention {connection} that a middle child craves when an infant sibling arrives.

Expect the boy blaming his antics on his dragon to spark a discussion about real versus pretend, about honesty and dishonesty and beg the age-old question:
Is it ever okay to lie? 

And then prepare to be wrapped in a blanket of warmth by the very real snuggle scene; the author's powerful words paired with the illustrator's brilliant visuals will reach down into the depths of your emotional reserves to endear you to this heartwarming treasure

Check out this book; it'll be the perfect addition to your collection
 and a really fun gift for that mommy-to-be in your circle.

For today's other PPBF titles, visit Susanna Hill's blog {here}.


Making Your Mark

Happy International Dot Day. How are you making your mark? At Westwood and Bales, we are celebrating creativity, courage and collaboration and the Peter Reynolds classic story The Dot through our Music and Art classes. Oh, and we're all wearing polka-dots. On picture day. It'll make for a good story later. 
Click {here} for some great activity ideas.
We're having a blast making our mark(s)!

We're also celebrating sweet role models ~ Grandparents ~ this week with a sweet roll breakfast this week. It was so awesome to see the cafeteria filled with these heroes. One of my third graders actually stopped as I was greeting at the door to proudly introduce her three grandparents to me. As I was shaking their hands, I heard her add: And grandparents, this is Mrs. Gruener. Her job is to make sure kids at this school are happy. How's that for a job description!

In other news, I'm getting ready for my next whole-group counseling class. We're going to start by fixing these fixed mindset statements and unlocking them 
into growth mindset reframes. I can't wait.

And finally, a quick update from Leadership Central: I had some special visitors yesterday when kindergarteners from Mrs. Krail's class stopped by to surprise me. So I pulled out a puppet, read them a story, and played The Lava Song on my ukulele while the ones who knew it sang along.

Guess who made their mark on my heart ... 

Have you entered our Kelso's Choice For Families kit giveaway yet? If not, click {here} to do that next.

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