Winter is here

Officially — today’s the winter solstice, or Wintersonnenwende, as a German friend tells me — and unofficially — we had our first sticking snow this week. Bring it on, winter!

I had one of those amazing runs this morning; one of the runs that makes you glad to be alive, that makes you run with a smile on your face, that makes you want to sing out loud but you can’t because you’re running. It was 12°F (“feels like 12°F”) so I bundled up, drank some Starbucks Christmas Blend coffee (thanks, Kate!), and headed out for my hour+ long run around 8:10am. Wow. It was cold but my hip-hop tunes were pumping and I ran one of my favorite routes. Let’s just say that 12 degrees didn’t feel so cold when there was so much beauty around me: a quiet sunrise revealed a cloudless blue sky, and all the trees were fuzzy-white with snow and frost. I ended up running a brisk pace for eight miles and returned home for another cup of coffee and these pancakes as a reward.

Holiday celebrations began in earnest this week at school. Last year I had barely been at site when all of the holiday performances happened, so they all kind of blurred together. This year I know my pupils and their teachers so I get invited to specific performances. Today one of my favorite classes (I know teachers aren’t supposed to pick favorites, but let’s be honest — we totally do it), , had their New Year celebration. As I’ve said before, New Years’ in Ukraine is like a mix of our Christmas and Halloween — kids dress in costumes and go door-to-door caroling. The 3Б celebration had a fairy tale (казка = kazka) theme. I’ll let the videos speak for themselves (pictures in slideshow farther down).

Today was also the District Methodological Cabinet celebration, which also had a fairy tale theme. There were funny skits and they announced the district Teacher of the Year winners in Biology, Ethics, Ukrainian Literature, and English. My colleague, Nadia Yaroslavivna, won for English Teacher of the Year! I was quite pleasantly surprised and really proud of her. She’ll go on to the Oblast’ English teacher competition.

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In true Ukrainian fashion, Я бажаю вам здоров’я, щастя, успіхів та любові (Ya bazhayu vam zdorovia, shchastya, ucpikhiv ta liubovi). I wish you health, happiness, success and love as we enter this new year.

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