Summer Week 9

Day 59 New/Old Job

This picture is not from today.  It’s from the first week of school six years ago.  I’m excited to share that I’ll be returning to this classroom next week after two years as our school’s STREAM Lab teacher.  My year of math specialist courses has left me wishing in a big way that I was teaching math again.  So when this position unexpectedly came open the week before, I asked if I could make the move.  I have learned so many new things in my VCU classes that I need to try out before I try to coach someone else to do them.  I’m going to miss working with students and teachers all over the building, but I’m looking forward to building deep relationships with the 50ish kids that I will teach.

Day 60 Melt Down

I finished my morning run today by reflecting to Ruth about my kids’ recent growth.  I told her about them playing outside the day before.  Twice Bubba came in upset.  He flopped down on the sofa and announced some injustice inflicted on him by his sister or neighbor friend.  But this day was slightly different than the days and weeks before.  First, he hadn’t said the words I have been trying to erase from his vocabulary:  I’m going to tell.  Jay and I have been preaching to him that those words never result in anything good.  Finally it appeared that this message go through to him, and he just came inside when he needed help instead of extending the problem with those four fighting words.  This day was also different because he accepted help.  He calmed down quickly, and we rehearsed how he would communicate what he needed to Chica and his friend.  He went back outside quickly, said his piece, and kept on playing.  This is progress, people.

Well, nothing like an hour-long meltdown the following day to keep you humble in your parenting skills.  We got through it, but it wasn’t pretty.  Here’s a screenshot of a text conversation I had with Ruth in the middle of that mess.  Every mom needs a friend who is a few years ahead on the journey to remind her that she will one day see the other side of the hard parts.

 

 

 

Day 61 Sewing Class

 

 

 

 

Rachel invited Chica to join her daughter for a sewing class at Sew Simple.  They had a fabulous time and each sewed a tiny cover for a pouch of tissues.  She came home anxious to try something else, so I talked her into working on a stuffed animal pattern I gave her probably two years ago.  She didn’t at all follow the directions, but her finished product is super cute nonetheless.

 

 

 

 

Day 62 Birthday

 

 

 

My birthday started off great with math nerd gifts from my family.  There was no avoiding homework on my birthday, but friends and a cake pop at the Y made it better.

I spent my birthday evening here with 25 of my closest online grad school friends.  At one point I messaged them something like, “Yikes.  Bad storm here.  My ceiling is leaking.  BRB.”  I rounded up a bunch of trashcans (after calling our custodian in a slight panic….I overreacted) and carried on with class.  Little did I know at that point, however, that there was major flooding happening all over our city.  I had to go the long, long way home because of blocked roads, but I realize that inconvenience is nothing compared to what many people faced.

Day 63 Game Night

It took me over two years to follow my friend’s advice, but I finally made an appointment for a real haircut at a real salon.  I took this super awkward picture on my way home.  Isn’t that what you do when you get a good haircut!?!

What I really wish I had a picture of was game night with our sweet friends from church.  We parent leveled up that night.  Chica entertained their youngest, pretending that she was the babysitter.  The four boys got along beautifully in the basement doing who knows what, and we enjoyed playing games with almost no kid refereeing.  It was glorious.

Day 64 Fun Day

I started the day with 11 soggy, sweaty miles with Ruth.  I promise we weren’t twinning on purpose.  This just seems to be everyone’s favorite tank these days.

 

 

Earlier in the week I made a deal with my kids that I was sure they weren’t going to keep.  Except they did, so I had to follow through and take them to FunQuest.  Misery loves company, so I was thankful that Alicia was willing to bring her kids to tag along.  Guess what….it wasn’t all that bad.  Chica actually thanked me without prompting on the way out the door.  Bubba often gets angry when we have to leave something fun and complains with his “worst-day-ever-I-didn’t-have-any-fun” refrain.  This time, instead, he walked out holding my hand, telling me how much fun he had.  My mom heart was happy.

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Summer Week 5

I’m way behind, y’all.  I gave up on daily chores for the kids after 6 days in, but I’m still not giving up on my pic-a-day idea.  So here’s what I can remember from the last week and a half!

Day 29 Homework

 

 

 

I spent the morning riding the trails at New London again.  It’s sort of refreshing to be so new at something that you experience noticeable growth every time you try again.  Most days I feel like I’m stuck at the same speed when I run, but it’s obvious that I’m getting faster on the bike.  I’m guessing most of that, though, is from the fear subsiding and not really from gaining much fitness.  I’ll take it anyways.

I spent the rest of the day working on homework.  I chose these pictures to remind myself that I really do enjoy the work that I’m doing.  Sure, a few more days at the pool with no deadlines would be great, but I know all of this will be worth it when I eventually step into a full-time role helping teachers teach math better.

Day 30 Carcassonne
After the morning teaching two year old Sunday School, the kids and I headed to Richmond for our yearly staycation at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Chica snapped this picture when we were teaching them how to play Carcassonne.  Bubba pouted through this first game because Grandpa stole his great big ol’ city, but he came back to beat us by one point in the rematch.

Day 31  Bike Riding
On Monday morning Grandma, Bubba, and I left the other two sleeping while we went to Rockwood Park.  They played Pokemon while I ran….and I also happened upon a bunch of RVA rocks.

Later we rode bikes around Grandma’s lake in order to check out the July 4th parade route.   I still pinch myself every time we go out on a bike ride now.  No baby seat, no buggy, no trailer, no training wheels, (almost) no fighting….it’s pretty great.

 

Day 32  Bowling

 

 

 

 

It was crazy hot in Richmond in the beginning of the week, so bowling was at the top of our list of indoor fun things to do.

I chose the second and third pictures here to remind me of Chica’s growth lately.  At one point she got upset during bowling thanks to a brief argument with Bubba and being pretty far behind in points.  She pouted for a short while and then articulated, “I don’t want you to cheer for me unless I look excited”.  In other words, our attempt to encourage her even when she had a mediocre turn was just annoying to her.  That seemed like reasonable request, so we honored it.  And guess what?  She recovered.  Almost instantly.  There was so much joy in the moment I snapped that second picture.  Can you see that Bubba was doing a celebration dance?  🙂  I’m so proud of her for figuring out what she needed and communicating that to us so clearly.  #progress

She nearly lost it again trying to spend her arcade tickets at the junk counter.  Mom-math-teacher was expecting her to do her own mental subtraction to see how much she had left, but she was feeling frantic and refused to think through it.  I tried really hard to stay calm and remind her there was no rush, and she eventually got there….without the phone or paper & pencil.  On another day her overly emotional response would have escalated to the point of me choosing to throw the tickets away and making her walk out without anything.  This time we recovered together, and it didn’t have to come to that.  *Mental note….we need to work on thinking about adding up for subtraction!

Day 33  Independence Day

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve decided it’s more fun to be in a parade than to watch one.  In preparation for my parents’ neighborhood parade, we went to the Dollar Tree and bought every tacky red-white-&-blue decoration imaginable for Jay’s Jeep.  I think the results were pretty awesome.  

I spent the afternoon trying to convince everyone that going to watch fireworks at the fairgrounds would be worth enduring the mobs of people, traffic, and heat.  I was right.  Also, I haven’t figured out any good way to photograph fireworks with an iPhone, but glow sticks look pretty cool!

Day 34 Rock Climbing

In case you missed it, a few months ago I wrote about the disaster that was rock climbing on Chica’s overnight field trip.  She has asked repeatedly since then if we could give it another try, and our RVA Stay-cay seemed like a good time to go.  As anticipated, she got a little weepy when both Bubba and I got higher than her, but she so held it together.  I’m proud of her for trying again!  Bubba actually got stuck at the top and had to be “rescued” on his last climb.  We had lunch at Bottom’s Up after climbing, and Grandma wowed the kids with stories about the time the restaurant was flooded.


Day 35  Bonus Beach Day

 

 

 

 

 

The plan was to go to Kings Dominion on Friday, but the weather forecast just stunk, so we postponed it one day.  Instead we visited Yorktown Beach, a place Grandma had taken them before, but I had never been.  Sand and water without the fear of kids getting swept away by the ocean current is my jam, as Chica would say.

Day 36  Kings Dominion

 

 

 

 

 

Our annual trip to Kings Dominion is easily the most anticipated day of the summer.  However, this trip was super extra special because the kids got to spend the day with their cousin who we haven’t seen in a long time.  They picked up right where they left off and had all the fun.  We were there when the park opened and didn’t leave until it closed!

Day 37 Back to Reality

The transition back to Mom’s rules after a week of Grandma’s rules was a little hard for Bubba this time.  He was convinced I should let him eat the melty Peppermint Patty he found in my van at 10:00 am on the way home, but I was determined that was a no-go.  He preceded to moan and whine like he might die of starvation, even after having two other snacks.  So in desperation (and with quite a bit of sarcasm), I handed him an entire English cucumber that Grandma sent home with us.  “Here.  If you’re really starving, chew on this.”  And he did.  He ate the entire thing, and we’ve been laughing about it ever since.

That night we drove to Nana’s house for dinner with the top down.  Yep….I’m that person wearing a hoodie in the middle of the summer.

We had a great time in Richmond, but man, it was also good to be home!

 

Summer Week 4

Day 22  Honey-Do

This morning I went for a ride on the New London Tech Trails.  This was my first time trying these trails, and they were perfect for my beginner self.  I’m slow, but I’m having fun.  Also, I learned why most bike shorts are black.  #mudfordays

Lately Saturdays have been busy with Jay taking pictures at races.  This week there weren’t any that interested him, so I hit him with my Honey-Do list.  First up….power wash the house!  Check out this pretty dramatic before and (almost done) after.  We borrowed Papa’s pressure washer and Jay worked his tail off most of the day.  I’m thankful for that guy.

Day 23  Honey-Did

Up next on my Honey-Do list…more shelving in the basement.  We’ve been talking about this for a while, and Jay really wanted to build some.  Then we both came to our senses and realized we’d probably be still waiting for that to happen in 2020.  So he bought some this weekend, and assembled them this afternoon.  Obviously we have no shortage of totes to fill them up.  I’m slowly working on regaining order on my section of the basement too.  Images of nights creating/crafting at my little desk with all my supplies organized on the shelves next to me is motivation to get it done!

Day 24  Basement

This afternoon I had my first class of the summer semester.  I was already finished with all of my prerequisite work, so I planned to spend the rest of the day working on the basement.  This was the one and only picture I took today.  I sent this shot to Jay when I realized that these big totes fit on my yard sale special bookshelves.  Wow.  I’m three for three with lame, adult-ish posts this week.

 

 

Day 25 Cinn City

Ruth and I tried out the new cinnamon bun place downtown after our run.  I got cream cheese frosting, bacon, Heath bar, and caramel drizzle.  I brought Jay one with maple frosting, bacon, pretzels, and vanilla drizzle.  The morning went downhill after that because the kids were oh-so-grouchy.  However, Jay came home at lunch and helped us forget we were all mad at each other.  We survived the afternoon with a trip to the Kids Gym and Y Pool with Patsy’s granddaughters.

Day 26 Mom Dates

So this was supposed to be a picture from our morning play date mom date with Lesley and her kids.  (Let’s all be honest.  The best play dates are just excuses to get together with your friends and talk while their kids entertain your kids.)  However, we were having so much fun chatting it up that we forgot to take a picture.  We recently put a deposit down in a far-in-the-future Disney vacay, and Lesley gave me all her insider info.  (Shhhhh….DON’T tell my kids.  I do not need 18 months of “when are we going???” in my life.)  So instead of a picture of her cute kids, here’s a cool shot I took when I left school after my grad class was over tonight.

Day 27  Mr. Goodies

Today:  Run, homework, more homework at the Y while the kids play, lunch with Jay at home, even more homework, 15 minute power nap, then class.

Tonight:  Dinner of champions.

 

 

Day 28  Hatching Eggs

This afternoon was our second book club, and it was every bit as encouraging as the first.  I challenged everyone to bring in an example of real world math they encountered in the last two weeks.  I ended up sharing a Pokemon GO example because it’s all Bubba talks about these days…..

On our way to LC, he was commenting on how far he had to walk to hatch his next special egg.  First he wanted to know just how far a kilometer is because the goal for that egg was 7 km.  Then explained that his egg was at 6.7 km.  He said, “Next it will be six point eight, then six point nine, then six point ten.”

This is what the book we’re reading calls a juicy mistake.  It uncovered a great misconception and walked us right into an opportunity for him to discover how decimals work.  So is that what happened??  Noooooo, cause old habits are hard to break.  I just up and told him, “No, after six point nine comes 7.”

The book talks about the work of math being moving from mistake to mistake to truth.  I just tried to jump him straight from mistake to truth, and I know it’s not any clearer now form him than it was before.

But tomorrow’s another day, with another egg to hatch, another juicy mistake, and another opportunity to ask and not tell.

Cheerleaders

This week for my biotechnology course I had to build a bioreactor and its subsystems that would allow me to capture and measure the carbon dioxide gas produced in order to determine the volume of ethanol in my dextrose and yeast solution.

Translation:  I had to use yeast and sugar water to make alcohol and tell how much I had made by capturing the CO2.

Needless to say, with more than a decade between me and my last biology and chemistry courses, this was a challenge.  (And that was an understatement.)

I’ve been working on this project for about three weeks now.  Here is a rundown of the steps:

  1. Attempted to not freak out by assuring myself that all other elementary teachers in the class are in the same boat.  “He won’t let us fail,” was my frequent self-talk.
  2. Started a list of, “What I Know.”  For many minutes that list consisted of one statement:  Yeast is a fungus.  This is all I could remember from teaching fifth grade science.
  3. Began research.  I alternated between YouTube home brew videos, that were probably not credible sources, and scholarly articles that I could not understand.
  4. Drew first plan.  It was a joke.
  5. Met with my 5 person planning team via video conference.  One I couldn’t see, one I couldn’t hear, and the other two were nearly as clueless as I was.
  6. Spent a week revising plan after plan, muddling my way through mole calculations and projected volume.
  7. Found a God-send in Cheryl, a like-minded fourth grade teacher who doesn’t make me feel dumb.  We have sent countless Facebook messages and emails, shared chicken scratch calculations, and used Google Hangouts at all sorts of odd hours of the day.
  8. Consulted two other people who don’t usually make me feel dumb:  Jay and Papa.  One night I even made them both talk to Cheryl over Hangouts after dinner.
  9. Submitted a plan and received very vague feedback.
  10. Gathered all of the materials.  This consisted of very grouchy trips to Walmart, the pet store, and Michael’s with my two little people.  After dinner I made Jay continue the shopping, with them, while I wrote a paper for another class.  No rest for the weary….him or me!
  11. Felt pretty ready when class started.  We were supposed to build it in class, and I had about 95% of what I needed.  Except my ideas were all wrong.  My containers were too huge, and I spent most of our building time trying to find new materials in the lab while editing my design.  I shed the first of many tears over this thing that night.
  12. Forgot about it for almost a week while I Love Math Day happened.
  13. Day 2 of in-class building went so much better.  Something said in class made me think of a way to stir the solution:  LittleBits.

So the listing the steps idea sounded like a great plan when I started this post, but now I realize if I keep going, probably only my mom (and maybe Cheryl) will keep reading.  So let me just skip straight to the point:

I had a decent trial run, but my first and second, “Ok….let’s do this for real!” were complete flops.  I came home in tears last night, puddled on the sofa while Jay tried to talk me back to life.  I was doing every last thing that I don’t want to see my students or own kids do when they face a challenge.

But this morning I was at it again.  Fueled by enough hours of sleep and the promise of an entire free day ahead of me, I started in on the research again, determined to figure out the trick of immobilization.

And it worked. Tiny, glorious CO2 bubbles floating up a clear tube into my graduated cylinder brought me some ridiculous joy.

So this afternoon as I was prancing downtown to meet my family during my one hour break from data collection, I couldn’t help but consider those truly crappy moments of this challenge and what had gotten me through:

The cheerleaders.

*Jay with his calm spirit, reassuring words, and frequent reminders of, “I’m proud of you.”
*Cheryl who understood what I was going through and said, “I feel like I’m in the waiting room at labor an delivery,” while waiting to hear if my design was working.
*Chica who asked me fantastic questions about what I was doing this morning on the phone.  “What did you do differently?” and “Can you make it thinner?” she asked. Her sweet questions helped to slowly bring me out of the dizziness and back into the problem solving mode.
*Alissa and Rachel, my running amigas who are also both in grad school.  They text me about translation theory and Sherlock, I send them pictures of my moonshine creator, and we all laugh at how different but the same our lives really are.
*My students who seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing, and the sweet little guy who told me I had inspired him to build something one day.
*My mom and mother-in-law who are relentless in their support.

May this project be a reminder to me of what my kids need next time it seems impossible.  Most of the time they don’t need a, “Suck it up,” or a lecture on how failure is just an opportunity to learn something.

They need a cheerleader, and hopefully I can be that for them.

(Ok….back to tending my graduated cylinders and watching bubbles trickle up.  1060 mL of CO2 and counting.)