an open letter to the kind student

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

dear kind and decent student,

I am grateful for all my kids. The shy ones, the quiet ones, the weird ones, the smart ones, the too smart for their own good ones, the silly ones, the class clowns, the teachers' pets, the athletes, the bookworms, the i'm-just-here-because-i-have-to-be ones, the sad ones, the puppy-love eyed ones, the ones with awesome&meaningful questions, the one that is always willing to participate, the ones that write me notes, the ones that leave me shaking my head, the ones that are still in my head with pride as I'm falling asleep, the ones that are still in my head with worry as I'm waking up- of them.
I love 'em.

but you, kind kid, I am most grateful for you.

thank you.
thank you for being exactly you.
thank you for coming to class on time and sitting in your seat and getting your work out.
thanks for saying hi to me in the hallway on the way to your other classes.
thanks for waiting your turn and sharing and cleaning up.

but most of all, thank you for being the one I know I can trust with the kid that no one else wants to partner with.

Maybe it's the kid who doesn't ever have their work, or the kid of 1000 immature jokes, or the kid who isn't so good at hygiene yet, or the kid who is so quiet and shy, or the kid who talks about off topic subjects that no one else has ever heard of, or the kid who is a perfectionist, or the kid who gets so mad they crumple their paper up in a ball, or the kid who won't stop tapping the pen, or the kid who answers all the questions without raising their hand.

thank you. thank you. thank you.
to the ends of the marking period, to the ends of the school year, to the ends of all the Earth.
thank you.

I know I rely too much on you, I know I probably take advantage of your patience and kindness too often. I also know I don't nearly enough tell your momma (or coach, or dad, or grandma, or other teachers, or whoever it is that you care about) how your kindness changes the dynamic in our classroom. How you are my most favorite kid because of your goodness and patience. I am promising you, I will try better on this.

but for good measure - just so it's clear -
How grateful I am that I get to be your teacher.
How grateful I am that your peers get to be your classmates.
How grateful I am that our school gets to be your alma mater.
How grateful I am that this world, who needs you so badly, gets to have you a part of it.

thank you kind kid.
your indebted forever teacher.

ps1. teachers teaching a kind kid, please tell that kid's momma (or coach, or dad, or grandma, or other teachers, or whoever it is that they care about) how awesome it is to have them in your class.

ps2. parents raising the kind kid - you are doing things so right. please write a manual.

Around Here Week 36: 09/02-8

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  448+ hours (of 1000)
Getting outside early in the morning with the dogs and marveling over the spiderwebs, I was actually losing my mind how many there were and how beautifully delicate they all were. I had the whole family out early the next morning (Labor Day) for a 'spiderweb walk' with the dogs - haha! - so we could hunt and be dazzled all together. The weather this week was crazy hot (see below in Teaching for just how hot!)

Reading and finishing Dear Martin by Nic Stone - another great recommendation and borrow from her classroom English classroom library (thank you Renee!) It was beautifully written, compelling, and heartbreaking.

Labor day relaxing and trying to get things organized around here after that first week back to school. We got to swim at aunt Lisa & uncle Matt's while visiting my parents and having a cookout. Grey got to went to a birthday party, I cleaned and lesson planned (and also rested). It was low key which is what we all needed.

County fair visiting as a family on Tuesday night. It was our only non-practice night of the week, so even though Brandon and I were both tired that afternoon, we shrugged and headed out to the county fair anyway. It turned out to be the right choice and the kids had so much fun and the weather was perfect. They rode tons of rides, we visited every single animal barn naming each one by name, and we ate good fair food. It was our very easiest trip to the fair with kids so far, ever. Grey and Gem are tall enough to ride everything themselves (even the salt & pepper shakers!) and Rusty and Violet were totally captivated by the lights and sounds. It gave us a promising little look into family life with grown-ish kids and we liked the look of it!

Halting (at least, right?) the weight gain, hah. Time to get serious about turning that number in the other direction with better food choices and getting in real exercises. I have been killing it on my steps (+12,000 steps daily) but my body (and soul!) could use a real effort toward an actual workout (maybe yoga or pilates because my body is in need of some serious stretching).

Planning our 10 year anniversary mini getaway through airBnB. We are going to the Adirondacks in New York and we can hardly believe we are going to get away just the two of us for more than a night together. Also, ten years? how? but also, how has it only been 10 years? (well, 17 years dating, but ya know). There are still some major details that need ironed out, but we've booked a little house on a lake and our hearts are all butterflies for the road trip and the thoughts of coffee on the lake deck with the fall changing leaves and a fire going in the fireplace. gah. seriously about to build a paper countdown chain about it.

Upgrading to new garage doors. It's been an ongoing battle between mice and men in our garage/basement and one more tally mark on the side of men is new garage doors that seal correctly at the bottom (and also look prettier too). We are lucky to have our Uncle Jonny (garage door side hustle extraordinaire) who could help us order and then installed them for us. They look beautiful and finally our garage remodel (that was never even on our summer to do list in the first place) is complete!

Fall sports at practices and our first home game of the season. It's always surprising (and such a relief) how our kids fall into our chaotic routines with relative willingness and ease. We all just pile up into the car and head to the fields and figure it out for as long we need to be there. They babies make friends with other little siblings and play on the playground, the big kids practice, we all float back together (albeit to the sounds of pleading for ice cream at the Silver bell, but ya can't win 'em all right?) The more we relax into the commitments, the easier it is. (this comes as wisdom after years of riling up against them). Sidenote, remember to be patient and grateful to the volunteers that do the work so that your kid gets to play (that includes youth league board members), but especially their coach. Remember to Thank a coach., and maybe the very best way to do so is with your patience and your flexibility.

Can we also just for a moment recognize how adorable To All the Boys I've Loved Before was on Netflix? I didn't read the book (yet) so bummer, but the movie was so so sweet, I was smiling the whole way through. And Noah Centineo...cutest, no wonder he is currently the 'internet's boyfriend'. I literally was losing my mind about how much he reminded me of Mark Ruffalo and kept saying to B - "they have got to be related, this is ridiculous?!" But after the movie, I googled it and they aren't - although I am definitely not the only one who caught the uncanny familiarity to each other.

Teaching the 20 Spanish speaking country geography unit in Spanish 1, finishing up the Super 7 verbs for Spanish 2 and moving on to Carrie la perrita bailarina unit to prepare for starting Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro novel next week! Spanish 3 started learning about Guatemala in preparation for their first novel this year which included watching the Living on $1 a Day documentary. We had early dismissals TWICE this week due to HEAT (I mean, mother nature, are you kidding me?!) Both my students and our kids' schools got early two days in a row since most of our classrooms do not have AC (bonus though, my room does as its a former computer classroom).

Making grilled steaks and zebu (! Thanks High Ridge Hunting Preserve), thai noodles in black bean sauce with shrimp, crockpot potato soup, chili over noodles, and breakfast casserole. We also had peanut butter protein snack balls (YUM!) and lots of delicious salads for lunch.

Around Here Week 35: 08/26-09/01

Sunday, September 9, 2018

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 428+ hours (of 1000)
Up 13 hours this week. Outside of the long birthday party at the Que, I didn't really make any real effort for outdoor hours other than what we were naturally doing with fall sports. I'm give myself a small free pass on the first week back to school because it's a little dizzying with all the new schedules. It was still incredibly warm this week (seriously, mother nature!?).

Reading and finishing I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson and, I loved it so much. I borrowed it from fellow teacher and friend, Renee from her classroom library and it's one of those books that now I'm going to have to buy it for my own shelves because I need it to be in my home. It was so beautifully written and had me floating from the destiny and love stories - but also had me high speed thinking about the creative process and making things with your own heart and soul and how much I've let writing fall to the wayside in this swirling whirling tornado of our life with young kids and full time jobs right now. Anyway, it should be required reading for everyone and I loved it big time.

Celebrating my birthday at the Quemahoming thanks to my parents, sisters, and B. I'm not big on my birthday at all (it's because I get all sentimental and reflective thinking about how we get this one wonderful, wild life and whether or not I'm squeezing every last bit of beauty out of it as possible and how I can be better next rotation around the sun, etc etc) but they went all in for the most perfect day ever for me and it was lovely. Dad reserved a camping spot at the Que which gave us this gorgeous wooded picnicking spot and perfect entry into the dam with our kayaks. We had mountain pies and pizza, sang happy birthday, skipped rocks, and went on a long meandering walk. It was a dream day, honestly. (thank you guys xxox)

Sending our kiddos off to another school year. We've got a third grader (Grey), first grader (Gem), and the two little ones started another year at preschool/daycare. Everyone was pretty excited and in good spirits and little did I realize until after I took the picture - they all sort of color matched too (#adorbs). So far so good and everyone likes their teachers and are settling back into the school week vibe again. By Thursday we all started to feel the effects of the routine schedule - Gemma fell asleep on the couch by 5p, I had the sudden wave of 'holy crap, I'm tired' at about the same time, and Violet and Rusty starting getting a little sniffle (#backtoschoolGerms). Perfect timing as it came right at the long weekend of Labor Day!

Enjoying the (slight) decrease in sibling arguments as the back to school time offers them the much needed space from each other after a long summer together. The kids always seem a little more patient and caring to one another during the school year. The 'no personal space' statute is still in full effect around here and it's almost guaranteed to find all four of them sharing the same couch despite plenty of space for everyone around the living room.

Double date-nighting with Kate and Michael to celebrate our birthdays. My best girl, Kate, has a birthday just two days before mine so we spent a delicious and silly evening out at Pour in Ebensburg together with our guys. (love you, Kate) The third member of our best friend trio, Karpy (who currently lives in NC), had a son on the day right between our birthdays (can you believe that?! honest to goodness fate), so we always give a little toast in his honor too (happy 2nd birthday baby James!)

Fall sporting with practices and Youth Night at the varsity football game (CT won!) No game for our kiddos this week with the holiday weekend, and it was kind of nice to have a little break from the full sport schedule over the past few weeks. Per usual though, we made our weekly stop at the Silver Bell ice cream stand after practice alongside many of our teammates and friends - which the kids absolutely love.

Teaching!... because we are back to school! My students had their first day on Tuesday (one day after my own kids which was nice so I could put them on the bus and be there for all the photos). We worked some common phrases in Spanish 1 including 'can I go to the bathroom' with the Señor Wooly video Puedo Ir al Baño (always a student fav) and I had an amazing experience starting Spanish 1 Honors right off with the Dice Somos Unit by Martina Bex. The Spanish 2 students all started with the Super 7 verbs unit by Mis Clases Locas and Spanish 3 dove head first into comprehensible content learning about Tomatina and then had a their own 'Tomatina' with red tissue paper 'tomatoes.' Such a great first week and I am beaming with all the nerdy teacher feels possible.

Making chicken & gravy over mashed potatoes (our traditional first day back to school dinner - the kids' favorite!) baked tacos, frozen pizza for the kids and grilled salmon for the parents, and crumb-topped chicken supreme casserole.

Around Here Week 34: 08/19-08/25

A look into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Outdoor Hours:  415 hours+ (of 1000)
Up 25 hours this week. The weather is finally starting to feel like summer...just as we are about to head back to school (bummer). We enjoyed a nice, long evening around the fire all together after dinner and scored many hours due to fall sports (practices, games, pep rallies, etc).

Reading Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel and finishing up my Spanish novels and graphic novels for this year: Robo en la noche, Billy la Bufanda y Las Botas, and La Casa de La Dentista. I am so excited to share the stories with my students this year.

Spending time with cousins. The Gilmores drove in from Hershey for a day to hand treestands so while the boys (including Grey and Reid) headed to the woods for the - Audra hung out with our house much to Gem and Violet's supreme joy. The kids all played nicely which meant I had most of the afternoon to power wash our siding - a chore I have had on my list all summer. Is there a more satisfying task than power washing? (that'd be a no). Then we were lucky to get a sleepover with cousin Caleb which included a visit to my classroom and a Just Dance competition with my volleyball playing students who were at school for camp.

mini-celebrating our six and a half year old Gemmi Roe with a 'happy birthday' over a cookie for dessert and measuring her height on our kitchen doorframe. Our beautiful, silly, sweet as pie girl, we love you so.

Emergency room visiting for a nurse maids elbow for Rusty. We were seriously afraid that he fractured it on the Lord of the Flies playground (what I call the school playground when Momma and Dad are both coaching practices), but alas and thank goodness it was fixed up with a quick swivel and pop back in place.

Mean Momma'ing it on our playdate with our besties the Fiores at Chimney Rocks.  We headed out for a hike in the afternoon and just as we were getting on the path, two of our kids set off on a full sprint waaaay ahead of us. It was scary for a few minutes when we couldn't catch up to them/find them (especially since the hike is all hills and drop offs) but when we finally caught up to them, I made a flash decision and looked at Kate and mouthed "sorry, but we have to leave now" and then proceeded to explain to the kids that we had to cut our playdate short. The kids understand that momma's rule is "if you don't know how to behave, you don't get to go" - I'm way outnumbered always with this crew, so I need everyone to be responsible and follow the rules - even at three years old. So we turned around and hiked back down the path to the sounds of tears and apologies.

Swooning at the Ligonier Farmer's Market with the girls early Saturday morning. Something about a Farmer's Market just sets my soul aglow. So much inspiration, and real hard work with real hardworking hands, and delicious smells and tastes, and all the beauty. Gah. love it so much.

Fall sporting all.the.days.  We've had football and cheer practices most nights this week, including sports pictures which prompted me to start an annual picture of Grey and Gem that I'll be forcing them to do every year now until they graduate high school (HAH). As cheer coach I've been putting my own kids to work in our garage painting flag football run-thrus for all the games - we have 7 games and we've got 3 run-thrus done so far. We headed out to the varsity field for the Fall pep rally on Thursday night where the kids were thrilled to get Senior Varsity fall sports players autographs (adorable), their faces painting, and food from the concession stand (obviously).
-We also had our first games of the season on the beautiful, sunshiny Saturday at Blacklick. Gemma and our cheerleaders did a great job cheering for the entire flag football game including an awesome first job at our halftime dance routine (to Sit Still, Look Pretty by Daya). Uch and I were exhausted after the game (keeping 19 little 1st and 2nd grade cheerleaders all together for 40 minutes is a feat!) but it was fun and proud the way they all did their best and had fun. I am so grateful to have Uch coaching with me! (love you!!)
-Grey played in the minors game while B headcoached and they did amazing. Seriously so impressed with the whole group of Grey's teammates and friends - it will be so fun to watch them all the way up through Varsity playing together. B is an amazing coach and it makes me so proud to have him out there doing what he was born to do; coaching kids sports and life lessons. #hotdad for real. The babies totally hung in there and played during two games in the hot sun with their little friends (#playerslittlesiblingsquad) and I was so grateful to have them just go with the flow even though it was such a long, hot day with two coaching parents who were distracted most of the time. We had a big cheering section (four grandparents, one great grandparent, two aunts, and an uncle who kept shouting from the sidelines - haha, love you Kev).

Finishing up my classroom and attending my first day back to school (Act 80 work day). We spent an hour or two at B's office doing a little redecorating and adding some more home-y touches to his office and then later that week, I put the final touches into my classroom. I figure we spend half our days in those rooms, they should be some place we enjoy spending time in, right? B laughed this whole summer saying, "geez, we're going to need to take out another mortgage on your classroom" (he's half joking, hah), but it sure does look beautiful and inspiring to me, so whatevs.

Making grilled church picnic chicken, my mom's enchiladas, chicken and zucchini casserole, delicious creamy Italian crockpot chicken (made and delivered by Heather - thank you!!) and crockpot swedish meatballs over mashed potatoes.