Thursday, February 28, 2013

School Spirit

Yesterday, my day started in a room of first graders. It's career week at Issa's school, and it was my turn to come in and talk about what I do. The kids were astounded I had completed 24 years of was I. I had them help me do the math, and I almost cried in front of them. Good grief that's a lot. They were so funny as I tried to explain what teachers need to learn and how I help. I gave them each a postcard of my campus, and then I had them create postcards for my students about what new teachers need to know. They are hanging outside of my office, and they make me blissfully happy.
Today, Issa's school is having a hat day:
 You have to love the princess hat turned backwards. For $1, you can wear your hat all day, which is way cool when you are six. I love that the money goes towards making the playground more accessible for all students. Love this school!

For Evan, this week is Circus Week. May I introduce our little clown?
He has had us all in stitches all morning. Why do I have this fear I'm looking at his career week, too?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


I would say this is an ominous start to the day:
It's not even that windy. As I was fixing the umbrella, my department chair just dropped off a list of reports that are coming due. I am afeared for the rest of the day.

(Yes...the walls of my office are lavender. I didn't paint them, but they do make me very happy.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pinterest Win!

This had been what our floor looks like everyday for the past week:
 Legos everywhere and one very happy boy in the middle of them. We finally used a gift card Evan had from Christmas to flesh out his collection, and he is now up to roughly 1,000 Legos. That's a lot. He had been dutiful about picking them all up, but he had to take everything apart every time to make them fit in his box. It was bugging me.

Enter Pinterest. I found some pins about Lego mats that turned into sacks, and I decided to give it a try. After a very frustrating half hour trying to learn how to make buttonholes, which I now know is insanely easy, we ended up with this gem:
 See all of those Legos on the Hulk green mat? It's big enough for both kids to play easily:
 And when they are finished, things they want to keep built go in the box, and the rest:
The mat just drawstrings right up. And yes...that is super hero fabric with Captain American blue drawstrings...and the happiest boy in Lego land. I have to admit, I'm more than a little proud of myself for this one.

(In case you are interested, the tutorial I used is here, and I started with a 44" square and two 72" pieces of ribbon. I think it's a perfect size.)

Friday, February 22, 2013

"I Made a Wrong Move"

Late last night (at least late in our world 9:00), our phone rang. When I saw it was our neighbor's number, panic set in. They've had their run of really scary sickness, and I was putting on my shoes ready to go sit with their daughter while they ran to an ER. It's just where my brain goes when when the phone rings at that hour.

Instead, I heard, "Do you have a minute? I want to tell you how amazing your daughter is."

Um...sure. Any mom will make a moment for that. I listened as she told a story that Issa hadn't shared...

Wednesday, the girls got off the bus and headed into her house, which is typical since I teach. Her daughter ran upstairs, though, clearly upset. Issa explained she had gotten in trouble on the bus for writing on the seat with an eraser. No big deal, but it did leave a mark that she had to wipe off before she could get off. I think her daughter was more embarrassed than anything else, but she was really upset.

My neighbor talked to her daughter, and as it turns out, Issa had been the one who told the bus driver, which is partly why her daughter was so upset. Issa was not in the room, and my neighbor explained that maybe Issa should have talked to her first, but that she was in the wrong and friends sometimes have to turn in their friends.

All of that is pretty mundane. Here's the magic. When my neighbor opened the door after putting her daughter back together, Issa was there. She looked right at my neighbor and said, "I made a wrong move, didn't I?" Completely calm.

My neighbor remarked at her maturity, her willingness to accept whatever the adult said. They talked about talking to our friends, but my neighbor supported Issa in reporting what she saw--it was wrong. I'm grateful for that.

Issa went in and apologized to her friend--not for telling, making it clear she didn't like the behavior, but for not talking to her first. All was well.

While I wish Issa hadn't tattled, I am so proud of her response. I am so proud that we are blessed with a little girl who is willing to own her mistakes. And I am so grateful for a neighbor that would call and tell me about it.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Very Official

Last post about the new job--promise...
It is all very official now:
I was able to send the email to students and put a sign on the door yesterday, and I have had a steady stream of well-wishers already this morning. I know several of the Fellows, and it is so lovely that they are glad I am here. I am still very glad to be here, too.

Yesterday the honeymoon ended (I was very short), and I'm in putting out fires mode. Thankfully, they are all small, controlled burns so far. Here we go...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

First Day Success

I survived my first official day in my new role yesterday! To be honest, it was a whirlwind that ended in exhaustion--but the best kind of exhaustion. Here is what I know:

1. In a moment of divine intervention, the woman who used to have the position stopped in first thing to drop something off. And she had some she stayed...for three hours. She walked me through everything in the office, including a month by month of what needs to be done in the program. I love her.

2. I have the best assistant on the planet. She knows the program, knows the girls, and is anxious to help. And she is so, so, so good. I was chatting about how I want to reorganize a bit, and she agreed it made more sense and offered to move the files for me. I heard that a lot yesterday: "I can do that for you." I love her.

3. This job is even more fun than I realized. I love everything about it, and I already have some ideas that I want to start developing.

4. There is still so much to learn. Today, I am going to bond with some handbooks. The thrill, I tell you.

5. I work with great people. All day, colleagues were dropping in and out to say hello, welcome, and ask if I needed anything. Until about 1:00 I couldn't answer any questions, but it was wonderful to feel so supported. I love them.

Here's to a happy day two!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My Husband Rocks!

I have the best husband ever. He worked for two days to gut interiors of cabinets, replace sub-floor, install all new plumbing, and give me a brand new shiny sink. I might have fallen in love all over again.
Sunday morning, we started with this:
 I loved the shape of this sink, but that was about it. The white was impossible to keep clean, and it had to be caressed off or it would drip. Not an attractive quality in a sink. And there was some no insignificant water damage under the sink.

He is such a great daddy. He narrated the process to his audience:
 The kids loved watching him, and Evan ultimately became the screwdriver boy and had some man time on a parts run to Home Depot. Be still my heart.

 New subfloor. That is a hole to our crawl space. Another reason I love this man: he indulges my freak outs. I may have slightly lost my shorts Sunday at lunch when there wasn't enough counter space or water to make lunch--even just warming things up. I rallied, but oh how I do not like mess in my kitchen...especially when I can also see the crawl space in my kitchen.

And Evan:
 This might have been the highlight of his little life.

Look at that beautiful new cabinet interior.
 Look at my hero, the love of my life, who happens to hate having his picture taken:
 And look at my shiny new sink!
 Oh yes, the sprayer is in the faucet, and oh yes, it has a matching built-in soap dispenser.

I think it really classes up the kitchen:
I am one very, very happy lady this morning.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Happy Me

This weekend was wonderfully busy. Saturday afternoon, we all headed to Home Depot and picked out a new kitchen sink. It is stainless steel and wonderful wonderful wonderful. Our old sink has been falling apart in a myriad of ways, and we finally just decided to replace it instead of cobble it back together again. I am beyond excited about the prospects.
As if that wasn't enough, Brad and I went out on a date Saturday night. After a leisurely dinner, we went to see "Mary Poppins" thanks to Shannon and Jeff. It was a fabulous show filled with magic, and I would see it again in a heartbeat.
The real magic, though, was yesterday with Brad working on our new sink. I have a ton of pictures, but they will have to wait until it's all the way finished. He replaced the inside of the cabinet, too, and it will all be beautiful when it is finished.
My big job was keeping little people busy. Evan was quite content to play Legos all day. He is smitten with those little blocks.
Issa, however, was feeling very crafty. She dug out a craft kit that had been lingering, and we created Jessie:
 Please notice her little ribbon ballet slippers. See this happy face:
That was well-earned. The kit came with double stick tape, which was beyond useless. After many attempts and mutterings, we broke out the hot glue gun and voila!

Jessie is pretty cool, but I just can't wait to show you the sink!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Heart Breaker

We had a lovely Valentine's day, and I wanted to share a few highlights.
If you are going to have chicken noodle soup for dinner, you can at least have heart shaped vegetables in it:
 The kids found the heart shaped carrots hysterical.

Daddy brought home some pretty flowers:
 I had picked up some chocolate and champagne that we enjoyed after the kiddos were in bed. We might share some of the chocolate tonight...or we might not.

 The kids spent a lot of time sorting candy and reading Valentine's cards from friends. The highlight, though, was this poster:
It's her first Valentine's gift from a boy. Hunter gave it to her at school, and he wrote "To Issa. From Hunter. Happy Valentine's Day" on the back--all spelled correctly. Issa was so cute about it, but this was my favorite part:
She showed Daddy her first Valentine's gift. He did so well. He affirmed how thoughtful it was and then:
He poured himself a drink. Oh how I love this man.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

The big day has finally arrived! Brad and I are going on our big date Saturday, so today is pretty much for the kiddos. They woke up to this:
 Each heart has a reason we love them on the back. They were pretty excited, and I am getting slightly addicted to doorway decorating.

Issa also wanted a special surprise Valentine's snack, so I came up with this one:
 I cut the pita (which she will now eat) into a heart and filled it with strawberry jam. I know it is bizarre, but she will be thrilled. She is such a bizarre eater. Exhibit B:
Her special Valentine's lunch. She wanted cereal with milk (that's what's in the small cup so it's not a soggy mess by lunch) and a Valentine's surprise. The banana message was the best I could come up with to go with cereal. The kiddos also requested my chicken noodle soup for dinner. We are nothing if not non-traditional around here.

They both went to school with their Valentine's treats, but they were way too bouncy to even attempt a picture. Maybe I can get one tonight after the sugar crash?

Happy Heart Day, everyone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Final Weekend Celebration

We are finally up to Sunday! I told you we had a fabulous weekend.
Sunday brought the Valentine decorating of the little house:
 Evan's face just cracks me up in that picture. Issa was studious as always:
 She really has started doing more planning before she starts.

Here is Evan's finished side:
 We used an entire bag of heart marshmallows.

And Issa's:
 I can't explain that face. It's hard to tell in the pictures, but she made faces on her marshmallow hearts.

And...we don't miss a holiday around here. Daddy made kung pow chicken to celebrate Chinese New Year:
The kids love using their chopsticks. They have both been learning about the holiday in school, and were quick to tell us all they know. We also decided Daddy makes great Chinese, so Sundays have become Chinese night and Daddy is going to cook. Yum!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Our Valentine's

Saturday, we headed out bright and early to continue our traditional Valentine's trip to Build-a-Bear.
Issa really dressed for the occasion and chose a panda:
 Evan gave in to Issa and wore red, and I know you are shocked, but he chose a puppy:
 They were both really into the whole experience this year. They loved the heart ceremony, and they gave their critters quite the air bath:
 After amazingly little time, they had finished their new friends! Meet Fluffy, the puppy, and Valentine, the panda:
Valentine is very sparkly, and true to form, Evan thought it was ridiculous to put a puppy in clothes. It is, however, perfectly reasonable to give him a glove, bat, and baseball.
After Build-a-Bear, we enjoyed a celebratory lunch, and then we headed to Verizon. Brad picked up a new phone, and I got his iPhone, bringing me into the modern era. It was a lovely day, and Fluffy and Valentine are still getting extra cuddles. The Valentine's celebration continues!
(On a side note, I won't be starting my new job until next Tuesday. I love working on a small campus, but it means that when one person takes a vacation paperwork comes to a screeching halt!)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Big News

This weekend was just too much wonderful. It must be split into two posts. Beginning with Friday...
Big News: I am back to the world of full-time work. I will be the Director of the Meredith College Teaching Fellows Program. I could not be more thrilled! I had my final interview Friday morning, and they made the offer on the spot. I will be recruiting students, designing programing, and mentoring the fellows. These are honors students who know they want to be teachers and commit to teaching in-state once they finish. These are my people, and as I was driving home I realized that everything in my career has been leading to this point. As I answered interview questions, I realized every job had prepared me for this one. If that's not God's hand I don't know what is.
I start tomorrow, which is surreal. We are readjusting to new routines--mainly I'm readjusting. It's exciting and thrilling and just a little bit scary. But that's life--right?
Friday was also the annual Valentine's shopping endeavour.  Issa chose puppies and kitties; she addressed them all by herself this year:
 Evan chose Spiderman cards for his friends, but it was his teacher gifts that made us all laugh. For Miss Erica:
 Nothing says love like a bulldozer. Except maybe cars:
 Miss Nancy will be thrilled. At least it will be a memory of our little man.

Issa was a bit more traditional with her teacher gifts:
We are definitely feeling the love around here.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday List

So...I have no pictures and no major developments. I do have a list of minor developments to share.

1. Both kids decided yesterday that they want to be librarians when they grow up. This is a testament to how amazing the staff is at our library.

2. I almost lost my cool this morning because Issa wouldn't stop reading long enough to get her coat on for school and we were going to be late. This is a fabulous problem to have.

3. After school, I am taking the kids Valentine's shopping. Pray for me.

4. Tomorrow will be the annual Valentine's trek to Build-a-Bear. Daddy and I are bracing ourselves.

5. Brad and I both have huge meetings today. The kids were so confused when I came downstairs in a suit. Issa announced, "You look like a real grown-up." Hmmm....

6. This is not much of a list, but I promise the next post will contain hilarity.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

On Tucking

Tucking in is a big deal around here. We all snuggle in one of the kids beds, say prayers, sing goodnight songs, and get a few million last hugs. Daddy and I each get a minute or two of one on one time with each kiddo to snuggle and chat. It's a nice way to end our days.

Warning: If you are opposed to sappy now might be a good time to stop reading. I just want to capture a moment here. I hope the kiddos will read it someday and see how much Daddy and Mommy love each other.

There is one addition to the tucking in routine. Ever since we were married, Brad has been much more of a night owl than I am. Most nights, we try to make an effort to go to bed at the same time. Sometimes, though, he has to work late. Inevitably, he will find me either nodding off or completely asleep on the couch.

On those nights, like last night, he wakes me, takes me to bed, and tucks me in. I can't sleep well without him, so he stays beside me, running his fingers through my hair, until I fall asleep. It never takes long, but he always stays...and I know I am loved, and I love that even after over ten years, he still tucks me in.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


The past two days have been a blur of laundry, grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, laundry, my day job, and laundry.
This morning, though, this morning was exciting. Look at this proud girl:
 Perhaps this picture will better explain:
Our girl can finally get all of her hair up in a pony. She was elated.

And...we finally didn't jack up the Kiss-and-Go line! The door opened and closed and I stayed in the driver's seat. Issa bounced into school, and I was elated.

Sometimes, it really is the little things.

Monday, February 4, 2013


I am back home!

San Diego was lovely. It felt like coming back home in so many ways. I saw people I hadn't in a few years, and I fell right back into the rhythm and heart that is AVID.

Saturday night, I took the red eye home. I had a lay-over in Newark, and then I was home by 10:30. I arrived to Spiderman balloons, purple paper lanterns, and party poppers. I was missed. It was so good to be home and see my people. I swear Issa grew up into a tween while I was gone. Evan just plain grew. We snuggled and snacked and watched our Ravens win. It was lovely--perfect in fact.

And now...I have to unpack and set the house back to rights. Did I mention I was missed?

Friday, February 1, 2013

On Ears

Yesterday, in the midst of trying to pack and prep for my training, I had to sew an ear back on Evan's bunny. It was a baby shower gift, and he suddenly has rediscovered it. I found the bunny and the ear separately in his bed--not good.

As I started sewing, I was annoyed. I really, truly did not have time for this. Hauling out the sewing kit. Trying to figure out how to attach the ear to match the other ear. And then, I remembered....

I remembered my favorite bear, Poley. The polar bear I carried around by the ear for most of my childhood. The bear I still have and still snuggle occasionally. I remembered his ear falling off many, many times. Every time it fell off, Gram would reattach it. At the time, I remember feeling like there was nothing more important. She knew. She never asked me to wait. She became the master, reattaching the ear so that it was perfectly cupped. My bear was all better, and I remember that feeling, that relief, that joy, that love.

Suddenly, nothing felt more important than that ear. I stitched carefully, making sure it would flop just right. I trimmed the threads as close as I could, and I tucked the bunny back into bed so he would be waiting for Evan. I hope he felt the love last night, too, and I am so grateful Gram taught me how to stitch, how to love.