2019 Summer Week 1

I wrote a whopping two blog posts this past school year.  One was a social story about dropping cinnamon buns on the porch, and the other was a list of all the things I want to do after finishing my grad courses.  Good news….I’ve already accomplished seven of the 23 things on The List, and I’ve started working on four more.  And since one of the 23 things is “blog regularly again”, here I am with a return of the photo-a-day summer posts.

Day 1 Smoothie

I chose this picture because it represents victory.  We have finally found something that Bubba will willingly eat every day for breakfast: a berry & banana smoothie.  For so long there was great gnashing of teeth whenever he was asked to find something to eat in the morning.  Cereal? No. Toast? No. Eggs? No.  PBJ? No. Anything?  Noooonoonooonononono.

Because I grew up an Earley, I don’t believe in skipping breakfast for any reason other than a blood test.  So Bubba’s breakfast refusal has always been particularly bothersome for me.  Enter the smoothie and some cool new flexible, reusable straws that Jay bought, and we can now usually avoid any fighting until at least 8:00 a.m.  Here’s the recipe in case you want to try it.  It makes one great-big-ol’ smoothie for me and a reasonable one for the Bub.

1/2 a frozen banana
2 cups of frozen berries (right now we’re using this mix from Kroger)
3/4ish cup frozen chopped spinach
1/2 cup fat free vanilla yogurt
1 cup plus another splash of skim milk

Day 2 Conquer the Cove

The third thing on The List was “run faster.”  Already done!  What what?!?!

This was my second year completing the Conquer the Cove 25k, the final race of the RNUTS series.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for my pace because I hadn’t done a ton of long runs before the race, but I was pleasantly surprised with dropping 20 minutes off of last year’s time!  I don’t think my training has been much different this spring, so I have to attribute the difference to the weight I’ve lost lately.

Second best part of this day?  The nap I took in the shade while Jay finished up taking pictures of the marathoners.

Day 3 Classroom

Like just about every other year of my teaching career, I wasn’t done-done by the last day of work.  I had to go back and pack up my classroom, and thankfully Grandma was willing to stick around to help.  I’m pretty sure if she wasn’t there, I would have just stood in the center of the room, spun in circles, and repeatedly said, “I don’t know where to begin. I can’t do this.”  There was still plenty of that, but then Grandma was there to point to a pile and tell me to get started.  I didn’t end up finishing Monday, so I had to go back a second day.  She rearranged things at work and stayed an extra-extra day.  The first picture is one she took when the Hoffmans stopped by to grab some things from his classroom, and the last two are the finished product.

 


Day 4 Barnes & Noble

At some point while she was here, Grandma took the kids to B&N, I’m pretty sure with the intention of getting them an end-of-the-school-year reward.  Bubba ended up with Pokemon cards, and Chica got a new journal, but this kid couldn’t take his mind off of the Pokemon card holder he also saw while they were there.  Somehow he talked me into writing him a chore list so that he could earn a few bucks to go buy it.  And then miracle of all miracles, he completed the list in an hour or two, without any whining.  So after dinner we went and bought the thing, and he’s been carrying it around, rearranging and talking about his cards non-stop ever since.

Day 5 Library

I count today as the first real day of summer because I didn’t have to go to school.  I took a barre fusion class at the Y for the first time, and I didn’t die or embarrass myself too terribly much.  We went from there to the library to read to the Therapy Dog.  We wanted to stick around for the free lunch, so we also painted with watercolor pencils in the adult section, checked out books, and worked on a math puzzle together.  I’ve tweeted it and told my librarian friend directly, but I just need everyone to know that the Lynchburg Public Library is doing a bang-up job.  We have nothing but great experiences every time we go there, and they are doing so much this summer to engage kids and families.  Give them a visit!

 

Day 6 Podcast & Girls’ Night

Though I regularly blow up Twitter with news about it, I haven’t written about our podcast here.  Ruth, Jay, and I started a math education podcast this fall, and today we recorded episode 30!?!  It still catches me off guard to realize that there are people, other than my next door neighbor friend and mom, who actually listen to us regularly.  If I had to guess, I think we’re safely at at least 20 faithful listeners around the country & Canada.  This project has been one of the biggest joys of my year because of how it’s stretched us as teachers and communicators.  Today’s recording was especially fun because we took things on the road to Ruth’s school to talk about Math Fact Fluency with several of her teachers & administrators.  We were both super encouraged by the conversation.

I spent the afternoon at a technology training, followed by reading in the Student Center at Randolph College.  Then I met my work friends for drinks, dinner, and dessert downtown.  The second picture here are all the pictures that Hannah texted Jay while we were out, because….well….why not?!?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 7 Walking, Fight, Nature Zone, & Reading

There were too many good things to write about today to pick just one.  So you’re getting four.

Big news:  Jay and I walked together FIVE mornings in a row this week.  Yep, I couldn’t believe it either, but it happened.  Today it was rainy, and he agreed….actually suggested….that we go to the Y Express to walk on the treadmills and talk.  This picture was on the way out.  (Pics or it didn’t happen??)  He was trying to emulate Rachel with the shoulder drop.  I think it’s working.

 

I swam laps at the Y today too.  Check that off “The List.”  Meanwhile the kids were in the Kidz Gym, apparently being absolutely horrid to each other.  From what I can gather, Bubba monopolized the karaoke machine, and Chica laid the hateful comments on thick.  But I went all PBIS on them, and decided that my best bet was to just do some reteaching about how to treat each other with kindness right there in the Y lobby.  It worked.

Here they are 30 minutes later thoroughly enjoying playing together while I bought myself more time to read.  I’m proud of Chica for admitting she was ugly and working to make it up to him.  I’m proud of Bubba for not dragging his #mood out all afternoon.  I’m proud of Jay for suggesting via text that I give them a chance to work it out.  I didn’t storm home and separate them all afternoon…my initial plan.  I didn’t just ignore it.  We talked about it, worked it out, and moved on.  These are the important moments.

In my beginning of the summer enthusiasm, I used the Macaroni Kid website to look for more fun ideas of things to do these weeks when I don’t have class.  In case you haven’t been lately, the Nature Zone is in a new location at Miller Park.  It’s free and open Fridays and Saturdays.  We visited, and I think our favorite parts were the turtles, snakes, and drawers of treasures to explore.

 

Finally, I had great aspirations of cleaning up our house this week.  I wanted to put away all the laundry, unpack many, many bags of junk from school, start to organize the basement, etc.  But it hasn’t happened yet, and I’m okay with that.  Instead, we had many more important moments like this one, reading on the couch together.  The mess will wait.

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My Ten New Things

Last week my friend Brittany wrote a post about the ten (terrifying!) NEW things she tried in 2016.  Her words got me wondering if I could think of my own ten new things from 2016.  Here goes!

1. Running Buddies:

What began as my most terrifying new thing turned out to be my absolute favorite part of 2016. I heard about the No-Pressure Running Group from a friend when training for the Richmond Marathon in 2015.  For whatever reason, I pictured a perfectly manicured group of Boonsboro mamas prancing up the Monument Terrace steps like it was no biggie.  I just knew they would be too fast and too cool for me.

Fast forward to the summer of 2016 when a sweet friend from church invited me to run with this same group.  At that point I wasn’t even sure if I could run the 5 miles they had planned, but I sucked up my fears and agreed to meet her anyway.  I quickly learned that this group was not at all what I had expected.  These women are real and flawed and smart and supportive and strong and amazing.  So for about six months now, the promise of good company has helped to drag my rear out of bed at 4:50 (or 5:00, or 5:13) a few mornings each week.  They’ve kept me running through the cold and pushed me to run faster and longer.  But more importantly, I now have a great new group of friends that have each been a tremendous blessing in my life.

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2. A New Job:

At the start of this school year I took a new position as the STREAM Coach & Math Remediation Specialist.  That’s a big-ol’ crazy mouthful that means I get to help kids build stuff and get better at math all day…what could be better than that?  The hard parts have been getting the room ready in time for school to start, missing working closely everyday with teammates, learning 500+ names, and figuring out how to respond to students with love and understanding when expectations aren’t met .  The best parts have been witnessing growth among both the students and teachers, the excitement I see as students get to collaborate and create, and nights (every once in a while) where I don’t come home to hours of prep or grading or emails.  Oh….and a schedule that makes those 5:30am runs possible!

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3. A New Degree

In April I finished my Master’s in Math Education K-6 from WGU.  At the end of this program, I was convinced that higher education is where I eventually wanted to land.  I knew that this degree was only going to get me so far, so I immediately started looking for the what-next.  For now the what-next is Integrative STEM Education classes online through Virginia Tech.  For me this has meant many late nights in the library at LC fueled by gummy worms.  For Jay this has meant countless nights of holding down the fort on his own.  I tell him and tell him, but I so hope he realizes how thankful I am for him.

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4. Blue Apron

A friend of my parents gifted us with a free trial of this meal service.  I had fully intended to get the free box and then cancel the subscription because it’s so expensive.  However, we really liked it!  The recipes were simple but interesting.  They forced us to slow down and eat at home.  We got some recipes that we liked so much we’ve repeated them several times with ingredients we’ve bought at the store.  Also, the portions are generally good sizes so neither of us overeats.  We were getting a box once a month, but now we’ve bumped back to every few months because we can reuse the recipes we already have.

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5. Mountain Biking

Whenever I run on the Peaks View Park trails, I get the mountain biking itch.  Before this year, I’ve never really tried it, but these trails (more than the ones at Candler’s) make it look like fun to me.  I remember thinking after a run this summer, “I wish there was a way I could learn to mountain bike….like a class or something.”  Well whadayaknow?!?  A few days later I ran across an ad for a beginner mountain biking class that would be offered through Parks and Rec.  It was super cheap and at a time when Jay could watch the kids, so I signed up!  I loved the class, but I left convinced that my bike from circa eighth grade just wasn’t going to cut it for many more rides.  I got a new bike for my birthday, followed promptly by a new school year that took up every free minute of time I might have had to ride.  I’m hoping that 2017 will bring more rides…and maybe a friend or two that will go with me!

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6. LuLaRoe

legginsSoooo….yeah.  I seriously debated whether or not to include this in my ten new things list, but I finally decided that ten years from now rereading this would probably give me a good chuckle.  At some point this year the Facebooks blew up with the LuLaRoe.  It somehow went from one college friend selling it to a gazillion sales every week.  I’ve never been a fan of buying something I haven’t tried on, so I waited until I got invited to a real-live party to buy any.  Somehow I got out of there with a bright orange pair of tights with blue paper airplanes.  What in the world?  And while they do actually feel as good on as everyone says they do, I can’t help but wonder what we’ll say about ourselves in 2026.  “Ahh….remember those leggings we all used to wear!?!  With unicorns and spaceships and flamingos and pineapples….what were we thinking?!”

7. Pokemon Goimg_2187

As usual, I’m a little late to this trend.  We just downloaded it over Christmas break, and I finally see what all the fuss is about.  It’s fun!  Grandma and I have been texting each other back and forth about our current level and how many we’ve caught.  She’s currently skunking me on level 14.  As soon as this post is up, I think we’re headed out to LC to try to catch up to her.  🙂

8. Twitter

twitterYep…also late on this one.  I started tweeting in March after hearing George Couros at LC.  While I was certainly hesitant to get started, so many good things came from tweeting the second half of our school year.  I think it’s fun to look back and have a record of what we did, but the best part was collaborating with a class in Canada through Twitter.  This school year I haven’t used it nearly as much because I’ve been sharing what we’re doing at school through Facebook instead.

9. Tutoring

A friend at school asked me to help tutor her in math for a few weeks over the summer.  She wanted help getting ready for a math placement test she had to take at CVCC.  Until this year I have never tutored adults, or hardly anyone for that matter, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to help her.  It was such a rewarding experience to watch her grasp concepts and gain confidence.  I hope to do more of this in the future!

10. Aid Station-ing

There are people who run 60+ miles in below-freezing temperatures, in the mountains, just for fun.  There are also people who stand outside in those below-freezing temperatures to feed hungry runners, thaw out their bottles, and cheer them on….just for fun.  So while I was not crazy enough (yet) to run the Hellgate race, I did help with three aid stations for this ridiculous event.  It was so inspiring.  And cold.

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How about you….what did you do new in 2016?   

Thanks, Brittany, for the inspiration!  Follow her at TheBamBlog.com.