Monday, August 31, 2015

We Survived Celebrations!

We had a great first week of school! Aside from some bus hiccups, it was flawless. This is especially miraculous considering I took Daddy to the airport right after drop off on Monday and didn't pick him up again until Sunday morning! This all required celebrating.

Right after school on Friday, some friends invited us down for a pool party. The kids had a blast with a little taste of summer and lots of splashing.

When we got home, Issa and I turned to pie baking. I had ordered 10 pounds of bruised peaches through The Produce Box. It helps farmers buy giving them the opportunity to sell their less than perfect fruit, and we love peach pie. However, 10 pounds is a lot: especially considering Grandma Bower's recipe calls for two and a half pounds per pie. It might have been helpful to look at the recipe card before I ordered. However, Issa and I were undaunted. She did all the crusts (measuring, mixing, rolling, and shaping), and I did all the fillings. We started about 7:10, and I pulled the last one out at 10:45! Here are two of the four beauties:
 Saturday, we started our morning at the farm. It was so good to be back after what felt like a month of thunderstorms. We showered before I dropped Evan at a friend's house and Issa and I headed to the Miss North Carolina wardrobe reveal. Miss North Carolina is one of my students, and she is one of the kindest, humble, most centered people I have ever known. She is also an incredibly talented tapper, so Issa was very excited to see that! She was also very excited to have her picture taken with Kate:
 Part of Kate's platform is pediatric eye health, which is a big love in our family. Her theme is "See the Dream," and we are all proudly sporting our bracelets:
We will also be watching her compete for Miss America in a couple of weeks!

Sunday, we enjoyed having Daddy home. We went out to lunch and did a little shopping. It was lovely!

And now we start a new week...and start making big plans for the long weekend!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Well Begun

I had my big opening event last night. It's the first time I see all of my students in one room every year, and I'm always amazed how much some of them have matured over the summer. My freshmen are wide-eyed, and my seniors are teary eyed. 

Last night, one of the best teachers I know came and did a pop up chorus with them. She rewrote "Dear Future Husband" to "Dear Future Teacher" to talk about the levels of professionalism required in our profession. The girls laughed and also had a lovely reality check. It's no small business they are entering, and I push them to do so with eyes wide open.

We ate tacos and chatted afterwards. I laughed and lectured and pushed and laughed some more. These are the moments I love in my job. I always called my students my kids, and these bigger versions are still my kids. These seniors will be the first group I have seen all the way through since freshman year, and I won't lie--it tugs at the heart strings a bit. I just know these young woman are off to touch so many lives, and I'm so grateful to be a part of the journey.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

I Love Local

I love shopping local. Everyone knows my addiction to local food and produce--I'm probably The Produce Boxes biggest ambassador. And we really try to shop local as much as possible. This week, I've been reminded twice how very important that is.

Tuesday, I stopped into Purple Crow Books. They generously donated a gift certificate for the school's Read-a-Thon prize, and I was able to find a new children's book that I've been waiting for! The kids will be so excited when I give it to them Friday as a first week of school is complete treat. As she filled out the certificate, though, she lamented that it was hard to stay in business. She's a tiny shop, and it's hard to compete with an online click. I'll be going more often.

This morning, my tire light came on. I checked the pressure, and it looked good but one of the little caps was missing. I drove up to our mechanic, who was very irritated I had checked the tires when I was dressed for work. He topped off all the air, gave me a new cap, and sent me on my way. He wouldn't accept a dime, and I felt much more confident driving in.

It's the little things that make me love local, and I'm so grateful to live in a town where local is a great option!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Hints of Fall

This morning, we left the back door open while we ate breakfast. We let the 68 degree breeze sweep through the kitchen and left the music off so we could hear the leaves rustle in the wind. The trees are just starting to see little peeks of yellow amid the green. Issa broke out a pair of leggings. I'm planning pork roast for Sunday dinner. The first inklings of fall are here.

While most people see January or spring as the time for new beginnings, for me it's always fall. Maybe it's because of my line of work, but fall marks clean slates. We snuggle back into routines. The early darkness calls for blankets for stories. The aromas of hot teas and roasting everything fills the house. Soon, we will find the one day it's just chilly enough for a fire. It won't really be chilly enough, but Brad will humor me because he knows me. And he knows that this fall is both fuel and solace for me. It's the cozy that calls for a more intentional life. My very favorite time of year.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

So Grateful

We had fabulous first days of school! The only glitch was a very late bus due to new routes, and that is a glitch I can handle.

The kids came home full of stories and excitement, and my mama heart was so happy that I had to have a really good cry last night...

Evan's teacher read the class The Kissing Hand and sent the kids home with Hershey's kisses. She told the kiddos as much as their families miss them during the day she misses them at night. Be still my heart. Evan said they read a lot and played a lot, and that is about the best day for my sweet boy.

Issa came home so excited that her teacher has the same favorite books as she does-- the Narnia series and Charlotte's Web. Her name had accidentally been left off the class word search, so her teacher was creating a whole search about her for today. The fact that she got to have that conversation with her teacher meant the world to her. And then, that dear sweet woman sent a letter home to the families asking them to write her a letter about our kiddos. She wanted to know their strengths and challenges, our dreams for them, and anything we wanted to know. I fought tears the entire time I wrote. Having a teacher that takes the time to read those--to want to know--that's a powerful thing.

Maybe it's because I am a teacher. Maybe it's because I teach teachers. Maybe it's just because I love my kids so fiercely. But kind, big-hearted teachers mean the world to me. Teachers who do those little things to build community and trust even before they worry about algorithms or syntax are gifts. If I am sending two pieces of my heart out into the world every morning, I need to know that there is someone waiting to protect their precious little hearts. God certainly answered that prayer again this year.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Happy First Day!

 Happy first day of school! I had two very excited children this morning:
 The backpacks have been packed and ready, and Buddy brought their favorite snack for good luck:
 They could hardly wait to go to school:
 Issa is ready to be a fourth grade lion:
 Evan can't wait to be a first grade penguin:
I can't wait for the stories tonight.

And for my teacher friends, please know that all the little things you do today and always matter. Last night, the kids were so excited to read the sealed book Evan's teacher had sent home for the night before the first day:

As they happily sprinkled glitter under pillows because the best little brother shared, I wiped away tears. Teachers, please know that we parents are sending our hearts into your rooms today--confident that you will love them almost as much as we do, praying for all of you and your year together. Thank you. Thank you for the million little ways you will show that love in between reading and math and science. Thank you for what I know will be another fabulous year.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Stick a Fork In It...

...summer is done. D.O.N.E.

We have open house tonight and back to school parties tomorrow. The kids are having an end of summer sleep over at Ryan an Felicia's, and Brad and I are going out on a we-survived-summer date.

I have loved so much about this summer. I have loved days at the museums, trips to parks, and long weekends out of town. I have loved listening to the kids read in the hammock or laugh in the tent. We have cooked and crafted and played without feeling rushed. We made so many memories, and for that I'm eternally grateful.'s time. All good things must end, and summer is at the top of the list. I'm craving structure. We all are.

I will not miss the summer homework show downs--because I am the meanest mom in the world and no one else has to read/write/do math in the summer. I will not miss mosquito bites that require magic bee stuff every five minutes. I will not miss the 16,122 water glasses my children use every day, or the 6,723 t-shirts Evan goes through because he's hot/sweaty/spilled. I will not miss cleaning glitter out of the carpet or the flour cloud off the cabinets. I'm done... least until next June when I'm craving summer and ready to do it all over again.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Happy Dippers

The kids are hanging out with me in the office this week. Brad is home, but he finds it hard to work when they're around. they come with me.

I love my kiddos, and they are great in the office. But I also am a bit touched and talked out. I feel like a ping pong ball between Mom and Dr. Bower. Thankfully, Brad could tell I was at the end of my rope. He took the kids for a daddy date, and I headed out with Felicia!

We went to Ladies' Night at a fondue place, where I ate way too much cheese and chocolate and am not at all sorry about it. We ate dinner at a real grown-up time, and I didn't have one person ask me to spell anything. It was lovely.

School starts in three days. I can do this...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Another Stripe!

Look who earned another stripe last night:
I am so proud of the ninja he is becoming, and I love that he is still loving life at the dojo!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


My son is a bit evil. After a long but good day yesterday, Brad and I were exhausted and ready to crash hard. Thankfully, he was the one to turn the comforter back because my evil little son had put a huge fake tarantula in my bed. On my side.

So...I did the only thing that could be done. I took it out of my bed and put it on his pillow. Clearly.

This morning, he woke up filled with righteous indignation that a spider was in his bed. I'm afraid a war has begun...

Monday, August 17, 2015

They're Here!

They are here! My freshmen moved in Saturday! My other students have been moving in at various points, and the campus is beginning to buzz again. It's energizing. Life gets infinitely busier in the best way once they arrive. I've missed them dropping in to say hello. Working without interruption is very overrated.

This is also kind of a big year. The students who were freshman when I became director graduate this year. It's going to be a great year!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

She Did It!

Issa hit a dancer milestone yesterday:
She did that bun all on her own! The ballet teacher did a bun workshop for the girls yesterday, and then they were all challenged to do their own buns. Ta-da! Issa is so proud, and I can't believe I get to be part of this dance adventure with her again. It really feels like I can watch her grow in warp speed this year.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Good Omen

Issa is in Company Boot Camp this week. It's her first year of going nine to five, and she is having a blast. She's a bit sore, but she loves it.

Last night, we had our first Company meeting, and as I walked out I turned around to find this:
A perfect rainbow over the studio. I'd say that's the best omen for the year to come.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

We're Back!

Work is back in full swing! This is our planning week; students arrive this weekend. It's crazy!

I really don't know where the summer went. I do know that I somehow managed to get a lot crossed off the project list, but there are still items floating. I also know I have one syllabus finished and two to go.

It could be a long week...

Monday, August 10, 2015

Lake Adventure

Last Friday, a very generous colleague invited us up to her lake house for the night. Daddy had to work, but the kids and I loaded up the car and headed up.

It was a much cooler day at the lake, but the water was warm and we didn't mind a little less glaring sun. Issa did a great job on her first solo kayak run:
 While Evan was still content to let me do the work:
 We looked for shells, splashed in the water, floated about, and generally enjoyed all things lake. The highlight, though, was tubing:
 The bigger the bumps the bigger the smiles:
Issa started to learn how to drive a boat, and Evan had permanent wind hair.

It was truly lovely, and I will be forever grateful for these memories.

Friday, August 7, 2015


The kids and I actually had a fabulous day shopping! We did, indeed, find new school shoes:
 Evan's are some sort of Star Wars battle ship, and the toes light up so it looks like it's exploding. Perfection to my boy. Issa...well...Issa graduated from StrideRite. She is now proudly sporting a size 4.5 on those feet. Even the clerk at Finish Line was astonished: "She just doesn't look like her feet are that big." Indeed. Thankfully, Issa sees big feet as a badge of honor. She is also in loved with these hot pink babies.

We also had a great time clothes shopping. Evan really didn't need anything, but we got one first day outfit for fun. Issa really did need some new warm weather school clothes since she grew roughly two feet this summer.

I have finally embraced the art of clothes shopping with these two: they are not my clothes. I don't have to wear them. If it makes them happy and meets dress code they can just rock on with their bad selves. That and let Evan play on my phone while Issa tries on the clothes.

The first day of school outfits are still classified, but Issa gave Daddy the fashion show when we got home.

My girl doesn't really do subtle animal prints:
 Please notice the matching print on the shoes.

A star perhaps?

This lovely ribbon skirt ensemble:
 Not quite enough animal print:
 And how about the same print in hot pink?
I can honestly say not a single one of these would have been my choice, but she loves each and every one. This trip, I didn't even pick up anything up. I just followed. I will say her first day outfit was my very favorite in the store and it took every ounce of me to play it cool when she picked it up. I want massive mom points for that--just saying,

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Watermelon Day!

Monday, the kids and I headed to the museum for Watermelon Day! Evan was not in the mood for pictures, but Issa was so excited that we were finally going to be there:
Every year we miss Watermelon Day for whatever reason. It's basically a day when all the critters get watermelon, and they love watermelon. The first feeding was at the pigs, and I was so proud of the way Issa and Evan helped littler kiddos make it to the front. Issa was also the photographer for the day:

When the pigs had demolished their melon, we made the obligatory stop at the fossil pit:
And then we were off to the bears! Again, Issa and Evan were so kind to little ones, and I actually ended up holding some itty bitties for some mamas that had more than one itty bitty trying to see. And the bears put on a good show:

We had some watermelon ourselves, built some towers, did some experiments, and came home very, very happy.

Today we go school shopping. We have all the supplies, but now we are off to find first day of school outfits and new shoes. Prayers appreciated.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Walking in the Footsteps of Pirates

This past weekend, we took off for the beach. I was in dire need of the ocean; there is a sense of my smallness and the infinite greatness there that I have come to need every so often. I need to hear the waves crash and watch the horizon.

Brad had a stash of hotel points, so we decided to stay two nights instead of doing our usual day trip. We had a suite, so we packed in lunches and snacks and settled in for the weekend. Brad made fun of me settling all the way in Friday night--right down to a bowl of apples on the kitchenette counter. We just enjoyed the hotel for the night after a lovely dinner.

Saturday morning, we got up, ate at the hotel, and headed straight to the beach. The kids gathered shells and played in the waves. Evan was initially very hesitant, but he finally really enjoyed the waves crashing. We spent the afternoon at the aquarium, and then had an early dinner at a fun seafood place right on the water. We watched the pelicans swoop and dive, which was a huge highlight of the trip.

Sunday morning, we got up and headed to a different beach with bigger waves. We all sat at the edge of the ocean and let the waves crash into us. It really is so lovely, and I loved listening to the kids laugh. They also were able to tell us exactly which pirates had been there and what battles ensued. I love that they can see the places they've been reading about all year. Thankfully, we arranged for a late check out because we were all in dire need of a shower before we headed out to see the river walk in Wilmington. We also went to the Cape Fear Museum, which was really fun! The kids loved climbing on board the model pirate ship to see how simple machines were used on ships. They also loved learning about the animals of the Piedmont, and Brad and I laughed ourselves silly as we showed them how pictures came in envelopes in the "old days." We ended our trip at an incredible Indian place that we will absolutely revisit.

We have a few pictures to remember, but the laughter and the memories are fabulous.