Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.

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Peaceful Focus

“Focusing is about saying No.” -Steve Jobs

Saying “No,” marks a boundary, making space for what you desire to create, and even though it hurts to reject a person or an idea, protecting that space will result in momentum toward your goal.

For example, this last year as I was teaching middle school English, I had to say “No,” to hanging out with friends on Sunday night because I had to mentally prepare to be ready to teach. In order to be focused, my No helped!

Being able to say no eliminates distractions.

-Mary Hope

Copyright 2017


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Stop and Listen

Last night before we had a picnic with friends on the Biltmore Estate, they gave us a parenting tip that a wise nurse told them after their daughter was born:
“Listen to your child.”

This seems simple, but in our speedy culture, many people forget to do this; the child usually knows what he or she needs, and there will be much more peace  if we just stop and listen and help meet that need. 

I’m going to remember this to use with our Baby!

Have a peaceful evening.

-Mary Hope

Copyright 2017

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The Second Grade’s Chicks!

The second grade students and the teacher are raising chicks! I stopped by to see them this afternoon and got a hold of them in my hands. These checks remind me of fun times I had when I was a child,  and we had chicks in a big box in our kitchen. Great memories! đŸ„ 

-Mary Hope

Copyright 2017

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Compliments from Students?! Wow!!

“Your teaching is 3000 times better than our literature teacher last year!” One of my students said this to me this afternoon, and he explained that my way of teaching writing helped him feel confident for our ACT Aspire test that we did this week. His words made my heart happy!

Yesterday all of our students took a writing test that I had been working with them toward all year. I taught them brainstorming techniques, about thesis statements, and tips on time writing test, and yesterday was the day where they put it all together.
I saw six of my seventh graders using their brainstorming techniques, and I heard from a lot of the other teachers that my students used their brainstorming skills on the writing test! Several six grade girls let me knows that knowing how to write a thesis statement really helped them on this test. One of them started blushing, but I’m really glad she let me know.
To top it all off, the eighth graders, who have challenged me all year, admitted that what they had been learning really did help them on the test. One young man said, “what you taught us really helped me on the test! I brainstorm for about five minutes and then I took the rest of the time to write my essay.”

My response was, “Hearing this made my year!!!”
I had been hired with the goal in mind to help our students improve their writing, and hearing this feedback from the students helps me know that I have accomplished at least some of my goal. I am so thankful for my students and that they are learning!
-Mary Hope 
Copyright 2017


Painting Beside My Students 

Teaching students who want to learn from you and are painting with you is invigorating. Today I started my arts and crafts club at school. A few months ago, when I was showing students how I wanted them to do a demonstration speech, I showed my students how to crochet. Several students were very interested in learning; those are the students who showed up to my arts and crafts class! 
This week we started out with watercolor painting. I taught them how my mom taught me: just start painting and figure it out. I gave them a few tips such as more water for lighter colors and less water for darker colors, but I just let them explore and do what they wanted. We had four unique and cheerful paintings done at the end of the hour! I was able to also paint some Easter pictures to decorate our classroom.
Sitting next to the students painting is a great way to connect with them. I have three 6th graders, one 7th grader, and one 8th grader. I am so happy to just to talk with them about what they enjoy, what kind of art they are interested it, and a little bit about their family. I left work today feeling happy and satisfied. Art brings people together.
-Mary Hope
Copyright 2017


Hobbit Cloaks—Wedding Style! Elvish Cloaks Worn by Our Five Ring Bearers…Here’s How I Made Them

mary-stephen-%ef%80%a7-married-250-of-1005Have a lot of nephews? Here’s one way to include them in your wedding! The Fellowship of the Rings

Last year when Stephen and I began wedding planning, we decided to include all five of our nephews (ages 5 and under) in our wedding party. This decision evolved partly because I didn’t want to play favorites, and partly because I had an idea that I wanted to create a fun scene

I have loved the Lord of the Rings books and movies for years, and so we decided to add a hint of that genre to our wedding by having our five nephews come down the aisle as the “Fellowship of the Rings.” They all received flowy elvish cloaks and ring bearer pillows.

This is how I did it:

First I researched cloth that flowed like the capes in the Lord of the Rings movies; I decided on a rich green color of crushed velvet that would go well with the bridesmaids’ blue dresses. I found the cloth in the costume cloth section in Joanne Fabrics. I had to research about what to do for the elvish leaf pin that holds the cloak together at the throat, and Etsy was the place to find a kid-friendly option.


On Etsy, at an embroidery shop, I found patches that I could sew on to the cloaks and so that were would not be any sharp pins to deal with. (Check out the Etsy shop here: Elvish Leaf Patches).

I drew some sketches based off looking at cloak pictures on Etsy, and I figured out to have a full cape, I would cut the cloth into a big circle, cut one side in and cut the head hole out of the middle. I made long hoods, and that took some adjustments, but I just had to make them large and floppy.



A month or two before the wedding (so that I would know the kids’ approximate heights) I cut the cloth, sewed up a demo, and had my nephews try them out, with the help of their moms. I adjusted the neck sizes, and then started production of five capes! I used ties and Velcro to close them, with the Elvish leaf sewed on top.




The boys did not wear the cloaks for very long, but having them wear them made me so happy! My sister-in-law had to bribe my nephew to keep it on, but he did. The one-year-olds were fine wearing them.

So on my wedding day, my brother was about to walk me down the aisle, Stephen’s brother walked his three little elves down aisle, and then my sister followed my two nephews down—and they both took off sprinting down the aisle! My nerves were calm, and seeing those little boys tearing down the aisle in their green capes made any last traces of nervousness leave. Then I floated down the aisle and married my best friend.




Our photographer, Ryn Manby (these images are from Ryn Manby Photography) caught some wonderful images our Fellowship of the Rings!


Seeing these photos just makes me smile. Enjoy!

~Mary Hope