Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Oh What a Week...and Weekend!

It was Teacher Appreciation Week last week, and while the day-to-day operations in F003 did not change, my lunch habits did - yogurt bar, popcorn bar, and sundae bar, oh my. I genuinely love teaching, and I have for the 11 years I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into spreading the literature love, but this year was extra special thanks to some of the most generous words I could ever have received. I was described by different students as both “soft spoken yet bold” and as a “fem icon” and a number of my kids contributed kind words and gratitudes to a thank-you document our principal orchestrated. My heart swells with pride, and I’m still blushing a little.

And that great week I drew from my students’ kind words rolled right into an amazing weekend, my first official Mother’s Day with sweet HQ on the outside. We spent a perfectly beautiful weekend in Door County. 

While she’s mastered many modes of transportation, this was our first official family road trip. Our necessary stop - turns out a tiny human is the only reason BR would consider justifiable for stops - was at a park in Sturgeon Bay, where we met my parents, who also had planned a Door County getaway. There was time for snacks and merry-go-rounds, and then we sent BR off on his bike and made our way to Ephraim. Our party of five reconvened for dinner, where, aside from a tasty meal, we all admired HQ’s new additions, some chompers - little lady has two teeth making an appearance. 

The next morning, after plenty of snuggles and gift exchanges (I’m taking Mom to Texas to see Magnolia Farms and to see Matthew; I got AirPods and a beautiful necklace - real tears were shed), we went to breakfast and then headed for Peninsula State Park, where my brother surprised my mom; our group, now six strong, spend the early afternoon hiking.   

I’ve always enjoyed time with my family, and I love when we can all be together. And in these past eight months, I’ve quickly come to realize and accept I’m nothing short of obsessed with my own tiny family. What a perfect weekend blending it all together! 

our view

Harper's fingerprint 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


This weekend was a milestone for the tiny human AND the momma. It was HQ’s first sleepover. I managed to make it a full 24 hours without tears, and HQ, well, she managed her time like any other, with lots of smiles and giggles. 

So what did we do sans baby? All the things that are just a tiny bit trickier - or impossible - with the peanut in tow and a few things we’re sure she would be bummed about missing were it not for the fact the she was with her Nonno and Grandma JoJo, who may well pass me up as her favorite person. 

We went to the gym and the bike shop; we had tacos and guacamole (and I didn’t have to worry about spilling avocado or salsa on anyone - it’s a hazard of having a little person who likes snuggles); I had an adult beverage - actually about a quarter of one - for the first time in well over a year; we watched a movie; we slept...yes, despite my certainty that I would hop into the car and drive to my parents’ in the middle of the night to snuggle with sweet HQ, I slept a solid six+ hours (Hallelujah) - the margarita buzz helped, I am certain. 

Sunday was a gym morning, and though I climbed while pregnant and though we bring her to the gym now, climbing without the little lady meant no breaks for entertaining, nursing, etc., and thus I was beyond worked by the end of our session and in need of one final treat, fro yo (with no need to keep baby hands out of the dish). 

Though I missed our little one something fierce, it was awesome to have some BR-AJ time! 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Costa Rica

We swore we would, so we did...times two! Not only did we start HQ's passport stamp collection (we have a whole lot of world to show her), but we finally, after more than a decade, finally took a beach vacation. And it turns out we're pretty big fans of travel with our tiny human and relaxing on a beach or next to the pool.

 Costa Rica, where we spent the week of Spring Break, was everything it promised to be: hot and humid, gorgeous, and full of friendly, baby-loving people.

 Our journey to Central America was less than direct - we flew from Midway to Baltimore before heading south to San Jose, CR - but it was an easy trip. HQ has proven to be an excellent traveler, so she was not phased by our very early departure time, our two flights (one of which was five hours), or our long car ride to our first stop, Fortuna.  She was equally excellent on our more direct return journey through Houston, which also included an early start to the day and lots of plane and car travel.

While in Fortuna, we did some hiking, some relaxing, and some swimming - in the thermal pools at our hotel.  We saw lots of lizards and great view of the volcano, both from our balcony and from various parks and trails around town.  We put lots of items on our 'trying corners' each meal as the breakfast buffets were packed with local favorites, and we had plenty of time to teach Harper how to enjoy floating in the pool.

the view from our balcony in Fortuna

out hiking

another balcony view

We left Fortuna and headed to Manuel Antonio at the mid-point of our trip, and I was certain we were not going to make it; everyone who said driving in Costa Rica was intense has grossly underrepresented the nature of car travel in the country.  We had a long drive, nearly five hours, so taking "the shortest route" Google Maps had to offer seemed wise...until we were driving on a near vertical road paved with softball-size rocks.  How we avoided whiplash or minor concussions is beyond me.

Once in Manuel Antonio, we continued to balance excursion time with beach and pool time.  We visited the national park, which was beautiful but extremely crowded, where we saw monkeys, lizards, coatis, and sloths; we enjoyed complimentary fruity drinks at the pool; we explored the beach and drank smoothies and margaritas in the perfectly temperate pool; we had lunch in the shade, swam for a while, and napped on our beach chairs (well, the littlest of us did); we enjoyed the local cuisine.

the beach at Parque Nacional de Manuel Antonio

breakfast company on day in Manuel Antonio

monkeying around
the private beach at Los Altos 
pool party

In all, we had a fantastic trip.  The weather was great (thanks, monsoon, for coming overnight), the people were fantastic, and our accommodates were supreme (even our less-than-stellar hotel in San Juan gets an A+ for allowing us the use of the restaurant freezer).  We'd do it all over again...except for the basil lemonade - the verdict is still out on that one. 

hiking in Parque Nacional de Manuel Antonio

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Women in My World

March was Women’s History Month, and as I read essays and listed to news segments about women who paved unique paths and who lifted others up, I thought very deeply about the women in my life. 

Some are family - and thus I am blessed to have lived along side their power and beauty my whole life - and some are women who have become my tribe. All of them have taught me a great deal and have shaped, in unique ways, the way I will raise my own little woman. She will be a force thanks to all the women who have made me who I am today.  

To the women who taught me how to be bold, brave, and relentless..

To the women who have hiked, climbed, and adventured with me...

To the women who have found and grown their own strength with me...

To the women who have shown me how to nurture, to mother, genuinely and unapologetically...

Thank you!!

our first four generation picture 
a much more obvious four generation picture (on day four for Ms. HQ)
I'd like to think that little lady will inherit the best of each of us!

Monday, March 12, 2018

Acadec 2018

Each year I am asked - and I’ve even asked myself - if I’m going to continue coaching West’s Academic Decathlon team, and last year, after finding out I was pregnant and finding out I’d be coaching solo, I sincerely wondered if I could answer “yes.” 

But I did, and I’m glad. My AcaDorks, my AcaDarlings, my brainy babies, are often the best part of my school day. They’re driven; they’re dynamic; they’re so, so fun! And this past week, I got to take them -and HQ (Thanks, Nonno and Grandma JoJo, for the help!!)  - to the State Competition in Wisconsin Dells.

I thoroughly enjoy the State experience each year.  It is a chance to watch my kiddos get all dressed up and walk across the stage to earn individual and team accolades.  It's also fun to converse with other coaches and share stories about our season - these kids! State is the end-product the many, many hours of hard work; and to see to see some of my former Decathletes.  I have to admit that it was nice to have a few work days run at a more leisurely pace, and it was especially nice to spend time with my tiny human - she made a great little mascot. And having the competition at a water park meant Harper got her first lazy river experience.  The verdict is still out on that one.  

State was great! I’m truly looking forward to next year — and the 1960s theme ✌

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

School, Safety, Change....

I have worked in three schools in two different districts during my tenure as an educator. And despite spending the first half of that time in an environment that was hard for many to see as a ‘good’ place, I never felt unsafe; I never questioned walking through those doors. 

Though I felt completely comfortable in that environment, the last thing Brian would say to me each morning before we parted ways was, “Be careful.” As I transitioned to a new district, I think he felt a sense of security and hasn’t shown the same concerns as in the past, and I know that has been important to him. But two weeks ago, I heard those words again. My husband, like many people in this country, feared what would happen in what should be a safe and valued place, school. 

As an educator and now a parent, I cannot deny that there is fear in the back of my mind, not for my safety, but for what may be done - or more likely what inaction we will see - to address this preventable tragedy from occurring yet again. And the thought of having the teacher down the hall, next door, in the room with me armed does nothing to ease my concern. That is NOT the answer. 

I grew up in a home where guns were present, and while I talk far too much and too often to have joined in the hunting tradition, I have nothing but respect for those who are hunters. I do not understand and simply do not believe in the ‘right’ to have weapons of war, weapons not used for or needed for game hunting.  I don’t want my baby growing up in a country where schools, movie theatres, night clubs, concert venues are dangerous places; I don’t want her to grow up in a world where people use fear as a bargaining tool for personal agendas and political gains; and I don’t want to be the person to walk away from a situation that isn’t working, but my pipe-dream of raising Harper internationally is looking better and better (parenting philosophies, policies/public safety, you name it). 

Each day I choose to go to my job at a school, to leave my baby in trusting hands (though not my own) to work along side hundreds of other parents’ babies. I’ve made that choice because I value what I do, and I believe in challenging my students to think critically and to solve problems civically, responsibly, decently. If only the powers that be could take a page out of our kids’ handbook - look at the young people of MSDHS as they have risen up in the face of immeasurable tragedy to fearlessly demand change!  

Monday, February 19, 2018

Date Night

It has been just over five months since our duo became a trio, so when Valentine’s Day rolled around this week, Brian suggest we break with our norm (ignoring everything about it other than the heart-shaped Dove chocolates) and celebrate. He had a point. We were due for some adult time.

So Saturday, while Harper hung out with Grandpa Bill and Auntie Becky, BR and I had our first just-the-two-of-us dinner in 23 weeks

We settled on Maxi’s (cornbread and bourbon... YES, please!) and enjoyed a quiet corner table, the perfect spot for people watching (isn’t that half the fun of going out?!). And after our fill of southern food and my two sips of an adult beverage, we found a bit of room and a little more time for dessert. It would be be nearly impossible now enjoy fro yo while holding HQ as she’d surely steal all my toppings to smoosh around in her little paws, so it seemed a natural choice to head to Yo Mama to close out date night. 

After dessert, it was back home to our real favorite, HQ. Plus, it was nearly 8:00pm...yeah, I’m old! We certainly enjoyed our evening out and even managed to talk about topics other than our tiny human, though, to be fair, who can blame us for wanting to chat about that tiny bundle of giggles and cuteness?! It was a fabulous date night. 

heading home after a great night out