Friday, November 22, 2013

Catch Up - Teacher Appreciation Breakfast

Some of you have probably been wondering why I haven't been posting as often. Well, maybe only Dad has actively wondered that, but it might have occurred to one or two of you that I haven't been posting as regularly. This post is the first in a series of updates of what I've been up to off-line, because as everyone knows, it hasn't really happened until the Internet know about it. In the last six weeks I've been lucky enough to be in some way involved with four fall sports, housebreaking a puppy, two kid birthdays, my birthday, Halloween, Mom's birthday, Thanksgiving preparations, teacher appreciation breakfast, field trips, and a trip to Mississippi. I've been so busy gearing up for and recovering from these activities, that I haven't had time to write about any of it.

So, here we go with the Teacher Appreciation Breakfast. In addition to my room parenting duties for the Baby's and the Boy's classes, I signed on to help organize the Teacher Appreciation Breakfast that the Boy's class co-hosted earlier in November. Actually, it was just last week. My Lord, it seems like 50 years ago. Anyway, if you have kids in school, you probably know the deal with Teacher Appreciation Breakfasts. A class or two host the event and parents bring in refreshments for the teachers and support staff to show how much we appreciate all their hard work dealing with our little darlings all day. Trust me, an entire day on a field trip with the Boy's class and I was pretty well convinced that all teachers are saints, superheroes, and possibly insane.

BTW, if you're stuck on a teacher gift (I find male teachers a little more difficult to buy for), Cafe Press has some clever teacher t-shirts:

I paired up on the planning with a parent from the other host class. We emailed back and forth about ideas and she said she'd been pinning ideas on Pinterest. Duh, duh, duh! I tracked her down and saw that she had 366 followers on Pinterest. You know how many I have? Sixty-one. Draw your own conclusions, but my interpretation of that disparity is that Pinterest users prefer boards about party planning and recipes to boards featuring weird tattoos and sassy e-cards. I clicked through her pins and started to panic. This girl was big time she was not going to be impressed with the lame-o ideas I've recycled for the last four years. I started following all her boards, and, bless her heart, about a week later she started following all of mine. Purely as a courtesy, I assure you.

Because it was abundantly clear that I would be no help with the decor for the party, I offered to come up with a list of items we needed for the breakfast and generate a sign-up sheet on Sign Up Genius. I have struggled with Sign Up Genius in the past (proof, I'm sure, that I'm no genius) and found it a little frustrating. I don't know if the format has been improved or if I was just drunk when I tried to get it to work in the past, but this go-around I found it to be really easy to use. Here is the list of items for the breakfast:

You could use this list if you were hosting any group with a hardy appetite: stevedores, football players, teamsters...the possibilities are endless! Even with this massive list, can you believe that every single slot was filled? Honestly, I can't. People are kind of amazing sometimes. I'm certain you can believe that I spelled "frappuccino" incorrectly, but it's probably just a word that Starbucks made up, anyway. My co-hostess had the idea to set up a grits bar, which is pretty genius. Naturally, she also made the grits (which were kept the warm in a crock pot). You could also have an oatmeal bar with different toppings, if you like oatmeal which, sadly, I do not. As if making grits wasn't enough, she also pre-wrapped place settings with fall-colored napkins, made little Thanksgiving-themed menu cards identifying each dish, created festive paper to-go bags that the teachers could use to stash a muffin or sausage link for later, and fancied-up the Starbucks frappuccino bottles by wrapping them with craft paper and twine. While she did all this, I bought the frappuccinos and made eight yogurt parfaits. Not twelve, as requested, but eight. I ran out of yogurt and it was too late to go to the store to get more. In my defense, the Baby had been home sick the entire week prior to the breakfast and I spent a lot of time watching Paw Patrol instead of doing anything productive.

The day of the breakfast arrived and I had to remember three things: a tub of ice for the yogurts and parfaits, serving utensils, and my eight parfaits. I cleaned out our ice cube tray, but when I poured it into the tub it looked pretty skimpy. Of course, there was no time to go to the store and get more ice, so I just took what I had and left for school, forgetting the serving utensils, naturally. I arrived at school in my  morning uniform of running tights, t-shirt, and running shoes (I've run twice in the last six months, BTW), no makeup, and hair in a ponytail. Meanwhile, my co-hostess was in full make up, impeccably dressed, and had already set up a separate table for the grits bar and was arranging the main table. Did I mention that she has a one year old baby? She does. She had made a big floral arrangement of faux fall leaves, layered a burlap runner over a white tablecloth and was laying out the napkin-wrapped place settings on a wooden tray.

I quickly tried to help do something because it was pretty obvious who had done the heavy lifting on this project, so I offered to make the coffee. In years past someone has always volunteered to coordinate the coffee by talking to the custodian who is in charge of the coffee maker and getting her to make the coffee. I have never done this because: 1. The custodian scares me, 2. I can tell she doesn't like me, and 3. Talking to her reminds me of how awkward I am when I ask for help. To avoid having to interact with the custodian, I decided I would just make the coffee myself. This was just a bad decision all around. I am terrible at figuring out anything mechanical without explicit directions and machinery of all kinds makes me nervous. But, like a bull in a china shop, I forged ahead. Here is what the set up looked like:

Initially, I couldn't find a carafe to brew the coffee into, but I found a water pitcher, so I poured a pitcher of water into the top of the coffee maker. Well, the water just started spewing out of the drip spout all over the heating element and the table and the floor. You should have seen the horrified look on my co-hostess's face. Understandably, because I was standing there like an idiot, continuing to pour the water into the top, while the water just came right out. And because she had been up since dawn making grits and putting on make-up and everything was going smoothly until I arrived to "help." She had the presence of mind to grab a bowl, which she held under the coffee maker, while I used every last paper towel on the roll to clean up the water that had spilled on the floor. Of course, it was a roll of those brown, institutional paper towels, so they didn't absorb much of anything.

Once I'd finished moving the water around on the floor, we were saved by one of my friends who dropped off the Chick fil-A biscuit tray and volunteered to find the coffee custodian. I will be forever in her debt. Meanwhile, parents are dropping off food and we were shifting things around to fit everything on the table. This is pretty much how it looked when we were finished:

Just doing our part to help out the obesity epidemic.

I'm usually not a fan of faux plants, but I think the vase is pretty and
it did give the table a festive look. Plus, who am I to criticize anything?

Please note the Thanksgiving-themed runner, the menu cards and stylish doggie bags.
I had nothing to do with any of this.
Obviously, the teachers were agog. I've seen some pretty good spreads before for these breakfasts, but nothing like this. I gave all the credit to my co-hostess, but I think the teachers thought I was being modest. Little did they know that I really did nothing other than make the parfaits and almost flood the teacher's lounge and come close to co-hosting a breakfast without coffee, which is pretty much the worst offense I can imagine.


  1. Faux real? Had you had the time and sanity, I know you would have gone natural. The bags are cute. When in doubt, Dancing Goats is around the corner. You would have been a hero if you had just shown up with a box o' coffee. Forget the parfaits. Teachers are saints. What they really want and need is a good cup of coffee and some extra spending money. All of this coming from a school volunteer drop out.

    1. I wouldn't have bothered with the vase of autumnal leaves (faux or real) because I think the teachers would prefer an extra tray of donuts!

  2. Replies
    1. Yes! She even had orange cups - like the kind you get at a fro yo place - for bowls. They matched the napkins, naturally!

  3. I really hope that none of the Glennwood teachers read your blog because you just made our appreciation breakfast look like CRAP! Thanks girl;0)

  4. Just doing my part to make the 99% feel inadequate. I can't guarantee that no Glennwood teachers read the blog, but I can promise that I don't know any who do.

  5. I happened upon your photo for a Teacher Appreciation Breakfast on Pinterest. We were looking for ideas to host one and yours was inspiring. We love the idea of a grab-n-go setup.
    Thanks for sharing and for making me laugh as I read through how this all came together.

  6. I so felt your pain as I read this. I could be your twin! love it!