Thanks so much for visiting HipWriterMama, my blog about children's books, authors and readergirlz!

It's time for a change. I've decided to focus my attention on my writing blog, www.vivianleemahoney.com. Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Happy Blogiversary to Me and a Call for Teacher Gift Ideas

I can't believe it. My one year blogiversary is here! What's really weird is how much has changed over the past year, but how much things haven't changed at all.

My first post was about my Christmas preparations, or not...and I find myself in the strange position of being in Groundhog Day. I'm still in the same place when it comes to Christmas. Candace tagged me for a meme, which I haven't gotten around to, and probably won't get to due to my sheer panic of to do's.

What was amusing about my first post is how thrilled I was that people commented. It wasn't until a few months later, my sister admitted to writing a couple of comments to encourage me. And I'm so glad she did. Because blogging has been a wonderful experience, and I have loved every moment of it. And you, my blogsphere friends, have enriched my life, more than you can ever know. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Back to my Christmas preparations. In my mind, I have a magical Christmas ready and waiting for my family....great holiday music echoing throughout the house; amazing presents bought, wrapped and mailed out if necessary; the house totally decked out in all it's Christmas splendor; the heavenly smells of baking underway. Instead there is total chaos in my house. Santa's elves certainly did not visit here yet. No great music blaring away. A few little presents bought. None wrapped. Some mailed out thanks to Amazon.com. Still haven't taken pictures of kids to show everyone how cute they've gotten. Thus, no holiday cards mailed out. My kitchen is a total mess since I decided to do a kitchen makeover by painting the gross cabinets. And I'm expecting 18 people over on Christmas Eve. What was I thinking? (This paragraph is straight from my first post. And a year later, I'm still at this same point. Even to the kitchen cabinets--which I finally painted an off-white, but never got the cabinet doors to align the right way--thus, all of my mess is exposed for all the world to see.)

I love Christmas. What I don't love are the expectations, the pressure of having the perfect Hallmark holiday, when chaos is filtering in everywhere my eye can see.

I love Christmas music. Our current family favorite, is the Celtic Woman - A Christmas Celebration. The kids even like it, which surprised me.

I love baking cookies and making my mother-in-law's secret chocolate sauce to deliver to friends and neighbors. The smiles and gratitude are worth all the effort of a messy kitchen.

I love finding gifts for people that I know they will appreciate. And that's tough, in this land of materialism, where it seems the more expensive things are, the better. This makes me sad and I have a strange need to try to shelter my children from it.

But I am then hopeful when I read books like Frindle by Andrew Clements, and am encouraged by how much a great teacher can impact a child's life. Frindle, by the way, is a wonderful book. I would recommend this for your child's reading list. I read this book last night, and it of course reminded me that I needed to find a special gift for the teachers in my children's lives.

So tell me, what teacher gift ideas can you share with me?


Tricia said...

I have been reading you for so long (though not always commenting) that it feels like you've been here so much longer. Happy blogiversay! Keep up the good work.

m. thompson said...

Happy Blogiversary! I love your blog.

I need teacher gift ideas too. My kids want to make gifts, but there isn't enough time!

Liz in Ink said...

I can't BELIEVE it's only been a year!!! You seem way more at home than that :) We love even more than most Christmas music, Vivian. Happy Blogiversary!!!

Jen Robinson said...

I also have a hard time believing that you've only been blogging for a year, though I do remember when your blog was new. I'm so glad to have you as part of the Kidlitosphere. I have no useful teacher Christmas gift suggestions, but I do hope that you're able to relax and enjoy the holiday.

Ruth Ayres said...

Hi! Hi! I'm loving your thoughts about Christmas. Isn't it a lovely time of the year?

Thanks for being inspiration for Writer's Notebook Wednesday. :)

I just wanted to chime in on teacher gift ideas. As a middle school teacher I loved it when my students made something for me. My favorite was a decorated photo frame. However, due to the short amount of time, my other FAVORITE gifts were gift certificates to Amazon.com or a local teacher store. (The cool thing about Amazon is you can send the gift certificate via email. Click & done!)

I personally wouldn't recommend anything with apples. tee-hee!:)

Barrie said...

Happy Anniversary!

Here's a teacher gift idea (not mine though): a Blockbuster gift card with a list of a favorite movie from each member of your family. You can put the gift card, movie suggestions list in a popcorn bucket from Blockbuster. (It's this cardboard bucket with kernels at the bottom under plastic wrap--all ready to pop in the microwave. You could even fill the bucket with more stuff like homemade cookies, some candy, etc.

jama said...

Happy Blogiversary! I'm so glad I found your blog. You set a high standard of excellence for novice bloggers like me to shoot for. Thanks for all your thoughtful and inspiring posts, and consistently solid content.

daphne grab said...

happy blogiversary! i am very glad you are here!

for gifts my husband (who teaches k-2 and used to teach 6-8) is always excited to get baked things- he once got an awesome bag of muffins. gift certificates are also good and the ones he gets to starbucks make me happy because i steal them to use on writing dates!

SevenImpossible said...


I remember interpreting Frindle into ASL while the teacher read it to her class when I worked at the School for the Deaf. Fond memories.

How about a great, new picture book for a teacher? I'll have to think on a fitting one from this year. More later...

Jules, 7-Imp

Kimberly/lectitans said...

My favorite gifts as a teacher have been gift cards to office supply or discount stores. But this year someone struck upon the notion online of giving a teacher a really nice water bottle (with a cozy, if possible) and in my increasingly parched state I think that's a fantastic idea. Teachers are probably some of the least hydrated people in the world, because most schools are kept at ridiculous temperatures (I actually got heat sickness in the middle of winter my first year of teaching) and because we just don't take very good care of ourselves. (My sinus infection concurs.)

Susan T. said...

Vivian, happy blog anniversary. That it's only your first caught me by surprise. It seems like you have always been a part of the kidlitosphere!

Susan T.
Chicken Spaghetti

Becky said...

Happy blogiversary :)

Liz in Ink said...

Oh, I forgot about the teacher gift ideas.

They seem to really love gift cards. It may seem impersonal but I think it's generous without being all about us and our kids (a sweatshirt with #1 teacher and an apple on it). When my sister taught in a very small town she used to drive into the city to take that stuff to Goodwill so nobody's feelings would get hurt.

Maybe your girls could handmake the cards?

Bookstores, spas, running stores, fancy grocery stores, Target, Starbucks -- they ALL sell gift cards!

Homemade chocolate sauce is good, too :)

Erin said...

Happy bloggiversary!!!!!

Franki said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! I must have read you your very first minute because it feels like I have been reading your blog for longer than a year!

I bought my daughter's teacher a gift certificate to a local bookstore and a paperback book that my daughter picked out for the classroom (This teacher loves books). I think we (teachers) appreciate whatever we get and don't really expect anything. I think Gift Certificates and food are always safe gifts. I send a lot of Cheryl's Cookies and other food items to people that I am not sure what to buy. QVC also had some great chocolate covered apples this year that I gave to others at her school--art teacher, etc.. I've also given (and received) bread baskets from Great Harvest.

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks for the good wishes and great ideas!

I knew I could count on all of you!

Sara said...

I'm chiming in late, but hear! hear! to everything those already at the blogiversary party said! I love coming here and I think reading your amazing post, "Girl Power, At What Price?" was one of my first "excursions" online.

Teacher gifts: I may be biased as a writer, but I think words are powerful gifts. Notes from kids to their teachers are amazing. Perhaps you could combine that with Kimberly's water bottle idea? Fill the bottle with a notes/drawings from you and your child?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your gentle nudges to help me pursue my dreams. It means more to me than you'll ever know.

Teacher gift idea: I think someone may have already said this, but gift card to an office supply store. We end up buying so many supplies with our own money, it's helpful to have a little extra.

Thank you!

HipWriterMama said...

Thank you, Tricia and M. Thompson. I'm so glad you visit.

Liz, I feel like we've been blog pals forever.

Jen, You were the first kidlit person to ever comment and encourage me on my blog, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Ruth and Barrie, I love your ideas.

Jama, Thank you. I'm working on a cookie post for you!

Daphne, Thanks for the idea and can't wait for your book to be released!

Becky said...

Happy blogiversary!

And don't sweat the small stuff :). I love the idea of Christmas with minimal expectations beyond fun times with family. It was something I started working on several years ago when I found myself with three children under the age of four. If we made only one or two of our favorite Christmas cookies, and the kids got just a few well-chosen presents instead of a pile, and we went to one really fun party instead of all of them, well, that was just fine. We also celebrate the 12 days of Christmas, so if we don't get the gingerbread barn made by the 25th, well, we have 11 more days after that! And if I send cards at all, I usually send New Year's ones...

I've found that the more relaxed the holiday,the more we enjoy it. I get better at saying NO each year, which is my gift to myself and my family.

Happy blogiversary again, and merry Christmas!

HipWriterMama said...

I just got back from helping out at my daughter's school. The kids had fun making marshmallow snowmen and eating them...

Okay, where was I?

Jules, From one Schroeder to another--of course it makes perfect sense to give a gift of something one loves. I love the idea.

Kimberly, The water bottle is a great idea. The classrooms are overheated.

Susan, Thank you!

Becky, Thanks for visiting!

Liz, The chocolate sauce, that goes without saying. Nothing like this homemade sauce over ice cream, or dipping fruits or pretzels into it. Yum. And your sister sounds so sweet. Very good ideas.

Erin, Thank you!

Franki, Chocolate covered apples? Yum. Thanks for the great ideas.

Sara, A note is perfect. There are too many good ideas here to choose from.

Anonymous, Thank you for your kind words.

Becky, Great ideas to make Christmas more relaxing. You celebrate 12 days of Christmas? I want to hang out at your house, it must be wonderful.

Callipygia said...

HWM- Congratulations on a year past. Your blog is wonderful and a true inspiration for many people. My friend has a saying which is Presence not Presents... Maybe that reminder will help you settle into the holidays. If I were a teacher i'd like a gift certificate for movies at theatre. They are so expensive that it is a nice little indulgence. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks, Callipygia. Presence not Presents. This is good. Merry Christmas to you, too!

MotherReader said...

Happy Blogiversary!

I always get the teachers a books for the classroom (even if it from the book sale looking perfectly-new) and a $10 gift card to Borders. Sometimes I've just give a book if it's really special and something that I think the teacher would enjoy and might share with the students. The Earth From Above series had some sales a while back and I stocked up then. If Do Not Open or Pick Me Up ever go on supersale, I'll stock up for future teacher presents.

Little Willow said...

Happy blogiversary!

Just say no to materialism.

"The best thing you can spend on your children is time."

HipWriterMama said...

Thanks! And great idea. I love combination gifts. And by the way, your posts on combination gifts were awesome.

Little Willow,
Thank you! And you're right. "The best thing you can spend on your children is time." Absolutely right.

Elaine Magliaro said...


Happy Belated First Anniversary! I hope our paths cross again some day. Sorry I didn't get the opportunity to meet you at Grace's party in May.

Happy Holidays!!!
Enjoy your snowflakes. We're not unwrapping ours until Christmas Eve.

Cloudscome said...

Coming late to say Happy Anniversary! Your blog is one of my favorites.

Teacher gifts to keep in mind for next year: I always love bookstore gift cards the best, or Target. I get a lot of food and chocolate gifts, which I used to love, but nowadays I am on a gluten-free diet and can't eat most of what they give me. I pass it on to my family, which they love of course.

A gift to make is get some dipping chocolate at the grocery store and stick pretzels. You can melt the choc. in the microwave and have fun dipping. Kids are great at this! But again... some of us can't eat them. :(

I always love getting cards, pictures and notes from my students.

Another gift I got this year that was great was a fleece scarf one of my third grade students made. No sewing involved; just cut.