Friday, October 30, 2015

Only My Job...

Some days, I am so tired. Today is one of them. I really could have used about ten more hours of sleep. And a day in the house alone to do laundry and dishes and just tidy. It's a little scary around that place and it's not from Halloween decorations.

But...even when I'm exhausted from it, I just love my job. It's the hardest, most holy work. I've had two days this week where I have been home less than 10 hours before I'm on my way back. I'll be here all day Sunday. I'm struggling to not let my emotional tank run completely empty. But I can't imagine being any where else.

I spent last night in a room with 50 educators. Half of those were my students; the other half are veterans who are willing to serve as mentors for the next two years. I was so proud of how articulate and thoughtful my students were, and I love that the mentors were impressed and recognized that they are really cool people, too. It's good when you can laugh together.

This morning, I was able to go see a new school that has a lot of great things happening. I celebrated with them starting at 7:45 am. I saw itty bitties so excited to learn, and teachers who were bringing their best to them.

I am in the unique position to see the full circle of teaching every day. I see my students just venturing into the professing. I see K-12 students in schools with classroom teachers doing the hard work of teaching. I get to work with students from kindergarten to seniors in college. I see the whole pathway. And on really, really good days, I get an email or a visit from a former student who is now in the classroom. Full circle.

It's the full circle that leaves me both exhausted and energized. The hardest most holy work.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Giddy

I am very much a one holiday at a time kind of girl. However, I broke my own rules yesterday for a very good reason!

For the past couple years, we have taken the kids to see a holiday show. Every year, I pitch Nutcracker and get vetoed. This year, though, the whole family chose Nutcracker! I'm ridiculously excited! And yesterday, I got fabulous seats on sale for the Saturday that we always do our little Christmas. It just doesn't get better than that!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Love Notes

I have super cool kids. I truly love their quirky little selves and the way they never cease to surprise me. Issa's latest: love notes.

Monday was brutal for me, and if I'm honest yesterday wasn't terribly better. Halloween, a full moon, registration, and Cornhuskin' makes for a deadly perfect storm at work. By Monday night, I was toast. And then I found this tucked into my jewelry tree:
Cue the tears. And the laughter. I mean really. I love her.

Last night, I found another note under my pillow. This one included the line, "because we go together like peanut butter and jelly on a sandwich." That line is even more classic because Issa won't touch a peanut butter and jelly sandwich--or any sandwich for that matter.

I have to admit, I'll be a little sad if I don't find a note somewhere tonight.

Monday, October 26, 2015

To the Mountains

We had a blissful weekend in the mountains. Brad and I did a little work Friday morning, but the kids had the day off. So, as soon as we could we headed west! We were in Asheville in time for a late lunch, and we found ourselves at Bouchon Creperie, which was incredible. The weather was perfect for eating out on the patio, and Brad and I were so grateful to have children who are not picky eaters. It just opens up so many fun options in Asheville. 

After lunch, we made a detour through a used bookshop, where Issa found a favorite from the library to add to her collections, Daddy found a fun book I won't pretend I can describe, and Evan took a chance on one of their mystery books. It was wrapped in brown paper with a few clues written on the front, and he was quite thrilled to discover he was correct and scored a fun pirate book.

From there, we headed straight to our first orchard:
 Sky Top is quite literally perched on the side of the mountain, and the views were incredible:
 The leaves were at their peak this weekend, and the orchard smelled so sweet. The kids also loved apple picking:
 My favorite:
 Did I mention the views:
 After we had picked too many apples, we took a tractor ride around the orchard. While I should have snapped some views, I did snap this selfie:
 We visited the orchard critters:


 And enjoyed the view of the pond:
 Before getting lost in their bamboo forest:
 We ended our visit with hot apple cider donuts and cider slushies before checking into our hotel. We managed to keep the kids awake for dinner, which helped them rally for an evening swim!

Saturday got off to a sideways start. The plan was to go to our favorite biscuit place, but the line was out the door and there was no parking to be found--anywhere--at any breakfast place. Cue the driving all over the mountains to try to find something and Issa getting car sick. Happy birthday, Daddy.

New plan: Donuts and hot cider at the next orchard. Stepp's was a very different orchard but equally fun! The weather was much more fall like, and the hot cider was especially welcome. We were so excited both orchards had growth charts since our pumpkin patch closed:

 Once tummies were full and everyone was happy again, the kiddos couldn't wait to try the apple cannon:

 It was super impressive. We then ventured through the five acre corn maze before picking apples and pumpkins:
 We found a new apple, Staymans, that we all really love! Which is good, because we brought home a peck of Asian pears and three pecks of apples! The best part of Stepp's was that it had a lot more apples that were easy for the kiddos to pick!

We ended our trip with a BBQ lunch. We were home for dinner on Saturday, which left us Sunday to settle back in. We did take Daddy out to one more birthday lunch before doing all the glamorous things like grocery shopping. We ended up having cheeses, crackers, and apples for dinner, along with an old childhood favorite:
Nothing beats warm, fresh red applesauce. And as I'm typing apple butter is going in the crockpot. A very lovely fall weekend indeed.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

475 Pennies

I counted 475 pennies at the book fair. A child bought her book with a gallon bag of pennies. That is all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Retail is Not For Me

I really try to help at the kids' school. When email requests for help go out, if at all possible I do something. This morning, though, I might have found my Achilles heel: retail.

This week is the book fair, and they asked for parent help. In the past, I have blissfully been assigned the job of helping children find just the perfect book. I often think this will be my retirement job. This morning, however, I was assigned a cash register. I am not good at it. All the scanning and the buttons that must be pushed in just the right order or bad things happen. And then the children with the ziplock bags of coins that must be counted and then sorted in the right little bins. And all of this must be done quickly because of the line. I. Just. Can't.

Except I have to tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Sparkly

We are on the tale end of our accreditation visit, and all is going well and most importantly almost over. My only regret is that I didn't get to post a very important update yesterday. Check out the new sparkly:
A little over a week ago, Issa came down and announced she wanted her ears pierced. She had our permission years ago when she started Company, but she has been absolutely opposed. We had a long conversation about why and if she was sure, and the bottom line is she was very disappointed in the selection of clip earrings and really wanted to open whole new accessory worlds. Now also happens to be perfect timing because her ears have plenty of time to heal before the first time she needs to wear Company earrings.

So...on Saturday the whole family set off to Claire's. Originally, she wanted it to be a girl date, but as it got closer she realized she really wanted to hold Daddy's hand. We had talked about the pinch and the sound of the gun--just the way I remembered when I got mine done--and she was so sure she was ready. She never once faltered all week. She was nervous on the way in, but she was committed. The only hard part for her was picking out her starters--eight weeks is a long time to commit to an accessory. Ultimately, she chose these because "diamonds go with everything." If nothing else, I have succeeded as a mother for that alone.

She hopped up in the chair, and both Brad and I were so impressed with Claire's. These people know what they are doing. The sterilizing process made Brad quite happy, and I loved the way they talked with Issa about her responsibility. I also loved that when they were ready to start they told her they were going to do one and then the other immediately because you have to clean them within 30 seconds.

Here's the deal: Issa didn't even flinch. And that noise that I remember being the worst part--it's gone. They now have single use piercers that have no sound. And I realize I'm sounding like one of those old ladies that walked uphill to school both ways in year-round snow, but seriously this was no big.

Issa picked out some earrings for the first change--crystal snowflakes since it will be December--and an Eiffel Tower earring and jewelry organizer. It's about that point that Brad and I realized we are entering a whole new world with this one. (Side note: It did not help that we had watched Inside Out Friday night.) She spent a not insignificant amount of time organizing jewelry the rest of the afternoon. She also has her ear cleaning chart taped to the bathroom wall with a big red X on the day she can change them.

She is growing up, and I must admit I really love her new sparklies.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Thankful

I would just like to go on record as stating that I have the absolute best husband in the world. I'm in an absolute buzz saw at work right now, and he has picked up the reins at home, taken care of me, and kept us from having to drip dry after showers. I would be lost without him. Love you, babe.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

And So I Did

I work in a field where Spanish would be helpful. My French is just not particularly useful since I stopped formally studying literature, but I will be forever grateful I had it when writing my undergrad thesis. Now, though, I meet families all the time whose first language is Spanish, and I have often wished I could speak their language. My heart just breaks for the mamas who drop their babies off and can't tell the teachers everything they want to. I hate not being able to comfort a crying kiddo with the words their mama uses. But I've never done anything about it.

Now, Issa has a little friend who is fully bilingual, but her parents speak far more Spanish than English. When we talk, my five words of Spanish and their ten of English lead to lots of nodding and smiling and not much else. I hate it.

So...I did something. Last night, I started learning Spanish. I have now added about 20 words to my vocabulary, none of which will let me have a full conversation--unless we want to get drunk. I can now drink wine and beer in Spanish. But...it is a start. And I'm committed. Vamonos!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Coastal Carolina

I mentioned last week that Issa had her first big project of the year: a Coastal Carolina Float. Yesterday was the big presentation:
She had to get at least ten key symbols of the region on her float, but she managed to squeeze in 11. Please notice the Swedish fish to represent the fishing trade. Also, the fabric around the bottom is in fact the ruffle from a some Ariel pajamas she wore when she was three. She made me save them in the fabric basket and was quite thrilled to gloat when they were the perfect ocean for her float. Being a pack rat pays off again!

Her presentation:
video
I just couldn't be more proud of this girl!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Beauty

Every Monday I get to watch this:
Issa has her solo lesson with Ms. Lauren, and I get to watch the two of them work and dance together. Yesterday, it literally took my breath away. Lauren has challenged Issa in new ways this year, and I feel like I am watching her getting stronger and more graceful every week. Lauren is a beautiful dancer, and to see Issa beside her is almost more than my heart can handle. And then I see Issa beam, and I hear them laugh, and somehow everything seems perfectly right in that moment.

I've said it before, but I will be forever grateful for this place Issa considers her second home. She is challenged and loved fiercely. It is a thing of beauty to watch the way she is growing and the dancer--the person--she is becoming.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall Fun

This weekend was all about fall fun.

Friday, Issa had a friend over to paint a pumpkin for the school media center. They were invited to create their favorite book characters, and these two were hysterical:
 While they were creating, I got lots of snuggles with a boy who was not tired:
 Meet Frankie from Monster High:
 Saturday, it was chilly but the kids and I were able to actually go to the farm. It has been raining so much we haven't been in forever. They had fun harvesting sweet potatoes while I helped plant fall crops.  We also got to catch a pig, a goat, and a cow since the storms damaged our fences a bit.

We picked Daddy up at the airport that afternoon, and then headed to Ryan and Felicia's for dinner. The kids spent the night, and Brad and I went back Sunday to make brunch. It so fun to have friends that love cooking and food as much as we do!

The rest of yesterday was spent being cozy. Even Nuzzle created a cozy spot:
We did venture out to the River Walk for a bit. We took Neela and just enjoyed the leaves starting to turn and the chill in the air!

Have I mentioned this is my favorite time of year?

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ninja Buddies

Yesterday, Evan had another graduation at the dojo:
He is now officially a camo blue belt. This is his favorite picture:
He loves this picture because he's beside his "ninja buddy" Logan, the kiddo with the glasses. It has taken approximately forever, but Evan finally has a ninja buddy. Evan is not the kid who necessarily needs or wants a friend all the time. He has lots of them, but he isn't an extrovert, which I totally get. He is not going to walk up to someone and just introduce himself, but he does watch and will eventually approach kids he finds interesting. He finally did that a few weeks ago. Now. as soon as we walk into the dojo, he starts looking for Logan, and they are immediately into a conversation about who knows what. It also amuses me to no end that Evan always refers to him by the full title Ninja Buddy Logan. This kid just cracks me up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Knitting Kindness

For Issa's birthday, she and I took knitting lessons. We had given her a basket with the gift certificate for the lessons in it, and at the end of the first lesson, she asked me to get a matching one:
We finished our lessons, and I love sitting on the couch with her chatting and knitting. I love seeing our baskets sitting side by side.

At the end of our classes, our teacher invited us to join a knitting circle. It meets on Tuesday evenings at a local cafe, and I was a little nervous about going. These women are knitters. However, Marsha assured us we would be welcome--including Issa. So, last night we went. We arrived to see a woman showing off a stunning sweater she just finished. Another lady was working on a beautiful shawl with a lace edge. We are working on scarves. And aside from one woman who was in her late twenties, everyone else was talking about their grandkids.

We were warmly welcomed, though, and we settled in with our scarves. These master knitters oohed and aahed over Issa's scarf. When she hit a snag, all of them dropped what they were doing to help. It was absolutely lovely to just sit and knit, and I love that another little village welcomed us in. Issa can hardly wait to go back next week, and I think I have found another place that feeds a little corner of my soul. I'm trying to learn how to carve time out just to do things that bring me joy, and I think this will definitely help. Who knows, maybe I'll even eventually try a sweater.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Cozy

It's cozy season. I stepped out this morning in a sweater I actually needed and saw the leaves were starting to be tinged with gold. And as proof miracles happen the sun was glinting off that gold in a way that made me stop and truly see it. We haven't seen the sun for over a week, and it was just stunning this morning.

The house is studded with pumpkins. I'm making the kids tea every morning, and fall meals are back on the menu. Squash and cinnamon wafts through the kitchen. Slippers reemerged. It's cozy.

Fall has always been my favorite, and this fall is not disappointing. There is something about the chill and the colors that encourages a bit of a slow down, and I'm making it a point to listen to that call.

Monday, October 5, 2015

I'm back...

Well...Read-a-Thon is over--mostly. I still have a final report to write, but no more counting or assembling prizes or distributing things to classrooms. By all accounts, though, it was a tremendous success! I just didn't get much sleep for the past couple of weeks and every morning has been spent at school doing something. To be in my office on time feels like a real luxury.

Aside from Read-a-Thon, it's been a crazy couple of weeks. A list...

1. Just when I think we are full at the end something else moves in. Evan has been taking such good care of his fish that they are reproducing. He now has two baby fish, one of which is now as big as the parents. The second baby is officially out of the getting eaten danger zone. He is one proud little boy. You might also be amused to know he has named all of his fish after condiments: Ketchup, Mustard, Mayo, Soy Sauce, Worcestershire, Ranch, and BBQ.

2. In related news, Issa now has three hermit crabs. Our sitter passed on two, and they are all playing very nicely. Issa is quite thrilled to have so many friends in her room.

3. In sad pet news, for the first time in 13 years we had fleas. Brad and I gave one dog and three cats flea dips this weekend. The good news is the problem has been eradicated before it got to be a pandemic.

4. In devastating news, we discovered the fleas because we had to call the vet for Nuzzle. She has been losing weight, and my worse fears were confirmed. She is in the very early stages of renal disease. There is really nothing we can do, and she is still very happy and active. Once that stops, though, we will say goodbye. She is my cat--no doubt--so I'm trying to savor every moment of what looks to be about six months left with her. My heart is just broken, though.

5. Issa had to do a Coastal Plains shoe box float this weekend. It's the first school project of the year, and I was shocked by how very, very little help she needed. Even finding all of the pictures online and compiling a document with captions was a breeze for her. It's due Friday, but she just wanted to knock it out this weekend. She presents next week, and I'll get some pictures then.

6. Brad and I went on a fabulous date Saturday night! It's a fabulous old bank that has been converted into a restaurant/art gallery. I had incredible mushroom bolagnaise, and it was so fun to sit in the vault sipping an after dinner cocktail before wandering to see some really fun modern art.

7. And now here we are at a new week! I'm sure more adventures will ensue...