It’s a new year, and I think I’m ready to take it on!  After months of turmoil, things are settling back down into normalcy.  (Well, we’re crossing our fingers!)  My daughter was diagnosed with PANDAS(yes, that’s an old fashioned footnote and not a link!) and it put our family into a spin.  In the most recent weeks, however, things seem good and, along with other things we have slowly come back to, I am ready to come back to The Inspired Classroom with a new look on life.

My friend, Susan Riley over at Education Closet reminded me of a an important life lesson in juggling work and family: every ball we juggle is made of rubber, except for family – that one is made of glass.  And while you can drop the others from time to time (they will bounce back, after all), you can’t let your glass ball crash.  Sometimes a crisis forces you to let the other balls bounce around for a while while you hold up the glass one.  That’s what I had to do.

In the need to stop things in such short notice, I realized how much my family needs me and how much I enjoy being there for them.  I’m not going to get into how much being a mother is the “best job in the world,”  but sometimes it takes a crisis to realize what is truly important.  Like, rushing to your son’s side when he wants you to see his latest Lego creation, instead of calling out, “Just a minute!”  Or, saying sure to your daughter who wants to help you cook dinner even if it means you will have to actually pay attention to the cooking process instead of trying to check Twitter, type a few sentences and make sure you don’t burn the bacon.

This journey is not over, but we are over the largest of hurdles (let’s hope!)  Thank you to all who have shown concern through Twitter, email, comments and in person.  Your support and prayers have helped carry me through these tough times and my feeling that I deserted this website.

But in this time away, I’ve realized that life goes on around us even when we have to step away.  (Those balls really do bounce!)  It was a freeing realization to know I could stop short and take care of my family.  Now that things are so much better, I am revitalized to take on things I have set aside.

So, a new year really is a new start in this household.  Thanks to those of you who have read thus far and may be willing to continue the journey here at The Inspired Classroom.

Happy New Year!


1  What is PANDAS?  PANDAS is a Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus.  I believe it affects WAY more children than we realize.  It is a very controversial and new diagnosis and I wouldn’t be surprised if in the next few years we see more and more about it.  For Grace, as with many PANDAS kids, it came on quickly due to a case of strep.  It hit hard as she tested positive with strep every month for four months in a row.  Each time she went on antibiotics, her behaviors went down dramatically.  She did not present with the typical soar throat and fever, but showed with sudden and extreme irritability, sensory issues, anxiety and OCD: things we had not experienced previously.  Now, after treatment for 2 months thus far, we see and are able to enjoy our sweet girl again!  For more information about PANDAS, go to


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Article by Elizabeth Peterson

Elizabeth Peterson has devoted her life to education and to reaching out to other teachers who want to remain inspired. Mrs. Peterson teaches fourth grade in Amesbury, Massachusetts and is the host of She holds an M.Ed. in Education, “Arts and Learning” and a C.A.G.S. degree with a focus in “Arts Leadership and Learning.” Elizabeth is author of Inspired by Listening, a teacher resource book that includes a method of music integration she has developed and implemented into her own teaching. She teaches workshops and courses on the integration of the arts into the curriculum and organizes the annual summer Teacher Art Retreat. Mrs. Peterson believes there is a love of active, integrated learning in all children and from their enthusiasm, teachers can shape great opportunities to learn.
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  1. Laura Schulkind says:

    Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year to you and your family! You are an inspiration.

  2. Susan Riley says:

    Elizabeth – I am so glad that you have been able to get some peace and to enjoy your family. There truly is no greater gift! You continue to be such an inspiration to me and so many others. I know this year will bring wonderful new opportunities for you!

    By the way…I just saw “The Performance” documentary from the Millenium Choir and one of the singers was describing that her daughter also was recently diagnosed with PANDAS. She found that singing helped her as a mom to cope and be there more for her daughter. Leave it to the power of the arts!

    • No kidding! I just found out that another dear friend from childhood may had had experience with PANDAS as well with her daughter. That’s one of the beauties of blogging and SM: We can reach out and connect with others, spread the word so that people do not feel alone. Thank YOU for all your support. It has truly meant the world to me. 🙂

  3. Silagh White says:

    A very wise thing to do – “let the balls bounce.” So glad to read your daughter is getting better. And that this experience will strengthen your resolve to share your gifts and insight to others.

  4. Elizabeth Wilkin says:

    Hi Elizabeth,

    I am so glad your family had a beautiful holiday! THANK YOU for the wonderful workshop last summer- it has been, and continues to be – inspiring!

    Wishing you and your loved ones a glorious new year filled with joy!

    PS: Hope to have my website up soon – somehow it keeps getting delayed…. but it will happen!

    • Thanks, Elizabeth! Things are certainly filled with much more joy around here. And I’m already planning for this summer’s Retreat! (and looking forward to it) Let me know when your site it up. 🙂

  5. Ali says:

    A family in my classical literature club has a son that was recently diagnosed with Pandas. Our little group does our best to encourage and lift her up. It’s tough, I know. You post was very encouraging. I love the part about our family being made out of glass. A good reminder to put them first. Thanks.

    • Ali, Thanks for the comment. I am amazed at how many people are coming forward to me about stories of kids with PANDAS. Families dealing with this, as with any other family crisis need the support and understanding of people around them. You are wonderful to help hold her up.

  6. My daughter had a fever this past week and it has sent her into a relapse. Any positive thoughts and prayers are appreciated. -EMP

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