Recharging This Long Weekend

I swore I would not check email this weekend but can't help but share this with all of you.

An academic peer of mine, Dr. Caroline Barratt from the School of Health and Social Care at the University of Essex, UK  created this short program for anyone who is seeking to add some contemplative practices into their lives.

Below is her description.

“Through the use of short meditations, poetry, and other activities she hopes to help educators find some spaciousness and renewal in the midst of everyday busyness.

The program is designed to be followed over three days (perfect for this long weekend). Each day you are invited to take part in three activities at whatever time suits you.

One will be a meditation; one will be reading some poetry and the third will vary depending on the focus of the day. If you were to do all three activities each day they would take you 30-45 minutes.”

I for sure will be taking advantage to invite some contemplative space into my life this weekend. I urge you to do the same.

The Gender Reveal for the First Jedi

       Yesterday evening we had a get together to reveal and celebrate the gender of our first child. We wanted to do something truly special. Although Tony and I knew what the gender is (we couldn't help ourselves!), none of our friends/family knew, and it was a surprise for them. 

       I couldn't have asked for a better gender reveal party. It had just enough people, plenty of food, a wonderful cake, and, most importantly, that incredible feeling of being surrounded by people that deeply care about you.

The four lovely ladies that I have the honor to call my friends. 

The four lovely ladies that I have the honor to call my friends. 

Tips, Tricks, and Lessons Learned

I. Before picking the date, I used a **doodle calendar** to get a feel for some dates. Summer is a busy time for many people -- vacations, conferences, professional development. I find it helpful to choose a few dates and see when folks are available. People simply look at the dates you are offering, check their calendars, and tick the boxes of dates that work for them. The majority wins. With this party, almost everyone was able to attend it which made it even more special. 

II. Thoroughly **cleaned the house a day before** and do a final mop/vacuum a few hours before. I like to set up the guest bathroom downstairs with fresh towels, soap and lotion, and put the cleaning products away since I believe the guests do not need to see the cleaners/liquid plumber you use. Always have an extra roll of toilet paper handy nearby. Doing the house cleaning a day before allowed me not to be as overwhelmed on the actual day of the party. 

III. For this party, we decided to go with a BBQ. After all, it's summer! The day of, we got burgers, chicken, hot dogs, corn, etc., and cooked the food **about 30 minutes beforehand**. Placed food in chafing dishes with Sterno burners. That allowed the guests eat when they felt like it and we, the hosts, could relax and spend quality time with guests, instead of running around trying to cook the burgers.

       **TIP: get veggie burgers for your vegetarian friends.** 

IV. Take a lot of **pictures**. You'll be happy you did afterward. I now have about 90 pictures and multiple videos to look at and reminisce. I have pictures of guests enjoying themselves, Tony blowing up pink and blue balloons, even cooking and setting up! Trust me, take pictures: you can always delete the ones you don't like later. 

V. Do a simple **social media campaign** leading up to the reveal. I was updating my social media networks with reminders and countdown messages to build excitement and momentum for myself and the guests. And it was the best decision ever-see #6.

VI. Do a **Facebook or Instagram LIVE** video for family and friends that cannot attend your reveal. Suggested by my cousin Gigi, we did a Facebook Live video at 7:30 PM and sent out a reminder that said something along the lines of: "Hey, we will be doing a Facebook Live video at **time** - please join us as we cut the cake and reveal the gender of our first baby!"

We had so many people join! And that made it feel even more special: my friend Christina who just got back from Europe and couldn't attend in person, watched it live. My colleagues from the school where I teach, my friends and colleagues from Chile and Russia, my Fulbright family of teachers, our family and friends from Maine, Massachusetts, and New York - all were watching and sending us their love. It was the best decision ever. Thank you, Gigi!                                                                                                                

VII. Do a **survey** to gauge the predictions of your guests. One piece of poster paper with markers worked for us. It was cute to hear people debating, bantering, and making predictions whether it's a boy or a girl. We had more people think it's a boy.                                                                                              

VIII. People reveal the gender of their baby by various means. Some do balloons, some use streamers, some use colored powder. We decided to order **a custom cake** from Bake Me Happy by Lindsay I loved doing the cake idea because you can eat it afterward-and it was delicious! 

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In summation...

...we had an incredible time. Having the gender reveal party was worth the extra leg work and effort. So many people came personally or were with us on Facebook Live as we revealed the gender of our first baby. By the way, it's a girl!

Facebook **LIVE** video we made for friends and family who couldn't attend in person.

Mindfulness in the Classroom Workshop Wins an Award!

Congratulations to SHU's KDP Xi Gamma Chapter and 2015-2017 KDP President/ELMP Doctoral Candidate Daria Pizzuto for receiving the 2016-2017 Professional Development Chapter Program Award!

We are proud to announce that our KDP Xi Gamma Chapter has been selected as one of 11 honored recipients of the 2016-2017 Professional Development Chapter Program Award presented by Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education!

Congratulations to 2015-2017 KDP President Daria Pizzuto for her contribution to KDP's professional development workshops, "Mindfulness in the Classroom: Tips, Strategies & Implications".

Our sincerest thanks to our KDP members/CEHS students who participated in the workshop and provided their feedback!