If you've read more than this one entry, you're probably tired of reading about how lucky I feel to have the job I have, but, well, here's another reason I'm lucky to work at Hotchkiss. At some point more than a decade ago, Hotchkiss started taking advantage of an insurance discount offered to schools/employers who provide wellness programs to employees. One woman at our school (whose name I won't put online because I haven't talked with her about whether or not she wants to be lauded in this public way; my guess is that she wouldn't want it) has been at the center of the School's efforts at healthy living since day one.
Because this woman takes health seriously, she thinks of many ways to make healthy living as much fun/delicious as possible. She knows the she's more likely to get people involved if she makes her offerings enjoyable. The first year of the initiative, she ran a competition to name the program; Hotchkiss in Balance was born. She takes the balance part seriously.
She has offered smoking-cessation classes, Weight Watchers, healthy-cooking classes, and exercise classes. (Through her work, I earned my certificate as a LeMond Spin Instructor.) She has also run day-long workshops on basket weaving, ornament painting, and rug dying. She makes a concerted effort to include all constituents of the Hotchkiss community (staff, faculty, spouses, and fac/staff family members) and even brings in Lakeville residents when possible. All of her programs are terrific -- fun ideas, well planned, and carefully run.
BUT by far my favorite activity of the year is her annual gingerbread-house-making day. Each December, this woman buys thousands of pounds of candy and icing and hundreds of gingerbread house kits. She brings hundreds of Hotchkiss participants of all ages together to decorate and assemble these houses. You might ask what she charges for this great all-you-can-eat...I mean all-you-can-put-on-your-house event -- we can pay in a cash donation (that will go to a local family in need) OR by bringing a toy to donate.
I'm a little pre-nostalgic this year because it's my last chance to build a house with my younger daughter (who loves candy almost as much as I do) before she goes to college next year (#shegotinearlytoBates!!). We've built candy-decorated houses together side-by-side every year of this event. I love that time together.
As a public service announcement, in my experience, it's smart to decorate the walls and roof BEFORE trying to put up the house. I know that might feel like putting up bookshelves before putting up the walls, but it's not.
What are some of your favorite family/holiday traditions? What are some of your favorite healthy activities? Please feel free to share ideas in the comments.
(My house from this year is at the top. I've put photos of many of the other houses/yards I liked below.)