Of Teachers, Daughters, and Snowmen

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This is a sponsored post about a book that I absolutely adore. It’s written by JC Little, my friend (whom I absolutely adore). There is a giveaway waaaay at the bottom of this post. If you want to skip all the storytelling in the middle, go right ahead, but I might be forced to whack off one foot so you’ll have to spend the rest of your life skipping to get around. Just kidding. (Maybe.)

If you really do want to skip, here are the must knows: You can purchase The Last Snowman, JC’s first foray into book-writing, from Amazon. The Kindle app version includes some fun animations and is just $3. The paperback version is gorgeous and goes for just over $8.00. Buy it. Read it. Love it.

Now gather ’round, kids, for a story…

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This is JC Little. JC, otherwise known as The Animated Woman, is a brilliant animator, artist, and storyteller. Note her gangstafied hand positioning and facial expression.
JC Little at Non-Con

I’m gonna go ahead and take credit for that. I taught her how to bring out her inner gangsta a couple of years ago when she interviewed (and drew) me for her Gangsta 101 post.

What I’ve learned from JC in the short time I’ve known her is more about kindness and compassion just because. What better reason is there to be kind and compassionate? Just because. ‘Cause let me tell you — JC stepped up big for me a couple of years ago, for no other reason than just because. JC is made of awesome. She is also the Maid of Awesome.

at the 2012 Aiming Low Non-Conference Superhero Party

at the 2012 Aiming Low Non-Conference Superhero Party

So when she asked if I’d like to review a copy of her first published book, I didn’t hesitate to agree.

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My youngest daughter, Kaelyn, has developed a bit of a fangirl crush on JC, thanks in part to JC’s cartoon My Life Me. If you’re not Canadian, you’ve probably never heard of it, and if you are Canadian, you might miss it being on air. Thankfully, you can still watch episodes on YouTube, which Kaelyn and the other Minions often do.

Kaelyn popped sparkly starry eyes when I told her that JC was sending a copy of her first book, The Last Snowman, for us to review. “JC? JC LITTLE?” She asked reverently and incredulously, as if perhaps she’d misheard and didn’t want to get her hopes up too high just in case she had.

“Yes, baby. THE JC Little is sending a book to us.”

“She’s an author now, too?” she crooned in a hushed awe. (The word “hushed” is important. There is very little that is hushed about Kaelyn. She is the walking antithesis to hushed.) “And she wants to send a book…to me?” Then she feigned a rather Victorian pass-out, complete with a dramatic sigh and a request for a cool glass of water and a fan.

Needless to say, Kaelyn was dazzled, and she impatiently awaited the mail each day.

When the book arrived, she almost did pass out.

She didn’t want me to read it with her the first time through. She actually gave me The Hand and said, “I need a moment, Mom. You just. don’t. know. This is JC Little.”

Humored, I kept a respectful distance and silence while she had her quiet moment with JC Little. (JC is never just “JC” in Kaelyn-speak.)

After she finished reading, she took a deep sigh, crawled into my lap, and unleashed a flurry of statements and questions:

“Have you read this already?” (I had.)

“Have you met JC Little’s daughter and son?” (No, but I have seen pictures and have read lots of stories about them on JC’s blog.)

“Would you have felt sad if that had happened to your snowman?” (Probably.)

“JC Little’s daughter and son look like they argue sometimes but have lots of fun and help each other, too. Just like me and Kyra and Jaiden and Jordan.” (It sure seems that way to me, too.)

“Is this a true story?” (Yes. This really happened.)

“Is her couch really yellow like she drew it in the book?” (I don’t know, but I can ask her for you.)

…long pause…

“I can tell that JC Little really loves her daughter. Just like you love me.” (You got that right, kiddo.)

another long pause…

She studied the cover and traced her fingers over the lines of JC’s art, as if she were trying to imprint every curve into her memory. Then she asked me to read it to her. When I closed the book, Kaelyn breathed a deep, ponderous sigh and said, “I think we should give this book to Mrs. Busby. For her daughter. You know they call her Snowman.

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Kaelyn awesome smartness You might remember that Kaelyn was diagnosed with ADHD a little more than a year ago when she was in First Grade. The months leading up to the diagnosis were worrisome and more than a bit trying. Kaelyn was unenthusiastic about school and seemed to have more off days than on in the classroom. We’d always suspected that ADHD might be a possibility with her, but we took a watch and wait approach. We made the move for testing when it seemed like her ability to focus (or lack thereof) began to frustrate her academic progress.

On one hand, there was that. On the other hand, Kaelyn is with-a-capital-G-Gifted. Once a week, she spends the whole day in a Gifted resource class doing Gifted-with-a-capital-G brainy things. Her Gifted teacher is Mrs. Busby.

Around the same time last year, I’d also started taking classes to earn my Gifted Education teaching endorsement. Becky Busby, who has been teaching Gifted Elementary for most of her career, was my instructor. Kaelyn thought it was rather amusing that we both had the same teacher.

To earn the certification, I had to take four courses stretched throughout the school year. One evening a week, my cohort had classes with Mrs. Busby. Our first course was “Nature and Needs of the Gifted Learner.” A major focus of that course was learning about kids who are “twice-exceptional.” These are kids who are Gifted but also happen to have some other exceptionality, such as a processing disorder (like Autism or dyslexia) or a learning disability of some sort. Being Gifted is one thing. Having ADHD is another. Both conditions residing in the same body often manifest in contradictory and seemingly unrelated ways. For example, Kaelyn has off-the-charts Reading Comprehension abilities, yet she appeared to be struggling in reading in her regular mainstream class. It’s easy to see how kids like Kaelyn often manage to slip through the cracks, their Gifted-with-a-capital-G-ness unnoticed and unappreciated.

Becky is a fierce advocate for Gifted learners, especially for those who are twice-exceptional like my Kaelyn. As my teacher, Becky’s passion and depth of knowledge about twice-exceptional kids allowed me to understand my daughter better. I had a much clearer picture of what was going on inside Kaelyn’s head, which in turn, empowered me to be a better advocate for my daughter. Kaelyn is having a much better year, I know that a huge part of that can be attributed to what I’ve learned from Becky and how I leverage it to help Kaelyn thrive.

As Kaelyn’s teacher, Becky never fails to notice all the ways in which Kaelyn shines. Good teachers admire the beauty of a blanket of snow; great ones admire the beauty of individual snowflakes. Kaelyn is my special little snowflake, and Becky recognizes and magnifies all the crystalline beauty of Kaelyn.

For that, as a colleague, parent, and student, I will always have a special place in my heart for Becky. Kaelyn undoubtedly will, too.

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Becky is pregnant with her second child and is due in May. Her son, K, had been hoping for a baby brother. He named the baby “Snowman,” which Kaelyn thought was hilarious. The baby was “Snowman” until they found out that Becky is pregnant with a girl, so now she’s “Snowgirl.” At home, though, Kaelyn still refers to the baby as “Snowman.” “Because Snowgirl just sounds like a wrong compound word and I think it’s ironic to say SnowMAN when Mrs. Busby is having a GIRL.” Then she gives a very un-hushed cackle, her head thrown back and tooth-gapped mouth wide open.

So it is no surprise that in those quiet moments after we read The LAST Snowman, her prized JC Little possession, it didn’t take her long to decide to pass it on to Mrs. Busby. “Let’s give The LAST Snowman to Mrs. Busby so she can read it to her FIRST Snowman the way you just read it to me. It’s about mothers and daughters and love. And I love you. And I love Mrs. Busby, too. And I want to give it to her just because.

Kaelyn & Mrs. Becky Busby

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Here’s your chance to win your own copy of The LAST Snowman and some other goodies from JC (Little) and her sponsors. This gift pack is perfect for the ever-lasting ArcticDeepFreezeDayAfterTomorrowClimateChangeOMGREALLYMORESNOW? winter we seem to be having. The winner will receive:

  • One paperback copy of The LAST Snowman,

    The LAST Snowman Prize Pack

    *Contents of the Boiron prize pack may vary depending on US or Canadian location of the winner.

  • a LAST Snowman mug from JC’s Zazzle shop (there are lots of other fun stuff there featuring her witty drawings),
  • a swag bag of cough and cold remedies for the family from Boiron, a world leader of homeopathic medicines (the better to rid yourself of those cold-weather sniffles, my dear),
  • a gift bag of bath and beauty products from Dot & Lil, who make luxurious skincare products with a fresh, young feel, handmade in their Montreal studio. They’ve designed a custom soap just for The LAST Snowman blog tour — Limited edition “Hot Chocolate Swirl” soap! It’s going to be chocolate scented and will have chocolate soap sprinkles on top, with the book cover design on the label. Fun right? Also included in the Dot & Lil gift bag will be the Shea Rescue Butter for lips and nails.

The contest is open until February 25, 11:59 pm EST. The winner will be announced in a new post here the next day. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post. You get a bonus entry if you find me on Facebook and share my link to this post.

When was the last time you built a snowman? Is it a memory you have marked in your mind, or is it one of those “last” times that flitted by you unnoticed? What teacher — either of yours or of your child’s — will always hold a special place in your heart and why?

14 Comments

  1. Adrienne on February 19, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Would LOVE this book for my first grader!



  2. Victoria Ess on February 19, 2014 at 7:21 am

    The last time I built a snowman was definitely when I was in elementary school. I can’t remember it though. I have a lot of teachers who stand out to me because they took an individualized approach to teaching.



  3. Megan on February 19, 2014 at 10:22 am

    The last time I made a snowman was last month with my 5-yr-old boys (you may remember them as Yen and Oi, Kym). They were so excited about it and declared it the Best Day Ever, so I think it will stick in my memory for a long time to come.

    The teacher that sticks out most in my memory is my high school Spanish teacher. She was a great teacher and kind, but she sticks out to me because I felt like she really liked me.



  4. Sarah on February 19, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I loved reading your post Kym (I always do). Having my own twice exceptional child, I related well to what you’ve written. The book sounds charming and a must read for me personally after the rare snow here in GA. Ella and I made a Snoopy snowman, which I certainly hope will not be our last.



  5. Tamsyn Medina on February 19, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Sounds like a great book! Also, I had no idea you were a blogess! Neato!



  6. M on February 19, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Haven’t built a snowman.



  7. a on February 19, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    That was a great story! SO worth not getting my foot hacked off…

    My daughter would love to read JC’s book!



  8. Carol Force on February 19, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I would so love to read this and share it with my students! This is such a tease!



  9. Kristin on February 20, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    We built a fabulous snowman a couple of years ago…and a so, so snowman pile this year. I had a fabulous time with it.



  10. meangapeach on February 21, 2014 at 10:17 am

    The last time I built a snowman was a few winter’s ago with my kiddos. I remember it because my arthritis now keeps me from enjoying all the wonders of snowballs/flakes/men. Growing up in Southeast Georgia seeing snow was a rare, fleeting gift. I can remember so many teachers who influenced me throughout my life and to try to name them all would require my own blog space. For my kiddos it would be Mr. Krablean for seeing the “extra” in my son, the mother and daughter-in-law duo of Mrs. Kigers’ at my kid’s elementary school who taught and loved at least half of my kiddos in either kindergarten or 2nd grade, and Mrs. Tim at the older one’s middle school who has played a role as either advisor/mentor/ teacher to my four oldest. They have been very integral to my parenting side of my children’s education by allowing me to question them when I was confused and helping me learn to help my kids as needed.



  11. Shelli on February 21, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Kym, you made my heart smile with this post. Your students are lucky to have you, and you have such a wonderful mini-me ready to carry on your legacy.

    My son has not had it easy in school. After testing which revealed no issues other than a higher than average intelligence, he has fought for every good grade all along the way. It has never, ever come easy to him. He’s in 5th grade now. This year, he has a teacher for Science and Social Studies, Mr. W. When I tell you this man has brought out the best in my son, that is not the half of it. David has achieved an A+ all year long in these subjects, and I see a love of learning that never existed until now. I wish that sparkle could be bottled up. Every child deserves a teacher that lights them up from the inside!

    And, I suck at snowmen construction. I always overplan and under deliver. I keep trying though!



  12. Sara on February 22, 2014 at 11:21 am

    The last time that I built a snowman was last week. It was Eggbert’s first Big Snow since she has been old enough to understand what was going on. Honestly, it was very frustrating. She was so excited that she couldn’t focus on patiently pushing the snowball around, but instead kept running around in circles in the snow, mashing down all of the snow and making it snowman-unfriendly. We gave up after making only two tiers, so it was a funny-looking snowman, but oh well!

    As for teachers, the Egg’s preschool teacher is a child whisperer. E is in kindergarten, and I still email her preschool teacher at least once/week to discuss various issues in parenting. I wish she could have gone to preschool until she is 18!



  13. JC Little on February 24, 2014 at 12:10 am

    My friend, you blew my mind with this post. I love it. I love the way you totally suckered me in with the silly pictures and the funnies. Then when it was too late to turn back, you laid out the deep and meaningful. You’ve managed to weave the elements of the story through our friendship, our children, and our teachers.

    Reading the comments here is a joy!

    Also Kaelyn has utterly stolen my heart.

    xojc



  14. Julie Gardner on March 11, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    I loved all the storytelling here and I’ve been a longtime admirer of JC Little.

    I live in southern California so I can’t remember the last time I built a snowman and I missed the deadline for the giveaway, anyway.

    So instead, I’ll share my favorite line from your post, for the record:

    “Good teachers admire the beauty of a blanket of snow; great ones admire the beauty of individual snowflakes.”

    You, my friend, must be an amazing teacher and the correlation between all your stories and JC’s book is simply perfect.

    Go, get ’em, girls.
    Go.