Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fools..All of March's Missing Posts!

April Fools that I really had 30 days of posts from March.

Nope.  I got to last night and realized that not for one, single day did I post the goings and comings of our family.  You can probably guess the usual culprits, and you would be right.  Add to it a dull headache that doesn't seem to go away and most nights I'm collapsing in bed right behind the boys.

So what happened in March?

- Finished two books, Still Alice and the very highly recommended "It's What I Do, A Photographers Life of Love and War"- Lynsey Addario
-Went to the Art in Bloom exhibit at the NC Museum of Art.  I'm not sure what was more awesome, a few hours alone or to be surrounded by beautiful displays of flowers?
-Trip to the Celebrity Dairy with the boys for an afternoon of rope swinging, baby kid goat holding, giant dirt hill conquering, and picnicking under the warm sunshine
-Ian date day including the Durham Bulls fan fest, Locopops, and trip to Guglhuph bakery
-Both boys started back with spring soccer, aka... time for OxyClean and Fels Naptha bar to get out lots of mud and grass stains
-Ben wrapped up off season soccer conditioning and skills. These practices were a good call, especially since all practices for his regular club league have been rained out so far this season.
-Presented at the 2015 Kenya mission teams summit. I believe I may have been the only one that said, "you will want to brings lots of bags to separate your clothes, unless you like the smell of diesel fuel and cooking meat permeate everything you own."  In all honestly, I'm insanely jealous of the teams going this year and wish I could be a stow away.

-I'm in good shape to continue editing and hopefully post my National Board Renewal by month end after attending a Saturday work session in which I got feedback on my writing.
-Last minute call to see Brian for a short 24 hour visit.
-Lots of meetings rescheduled from a snowy February to pitch the new AP Capstone course to potential students and their families. More continues into April including a middle school teacher visit and roundtable I am hosting.
-All summer camps booked and the summer master schedule with trips/fights arranged.  Minus one mis-scheduled event, I worked my summer camp budget like a boss
-A mini- Spring break week in which I think we made the best of our two days with go kart riding and trips to see the new dinosaur exhibit at the NC Museum of Natural History
- Many, many hours spent outside walking the dog to the playground and around the greenway.  While I enjoyed the extra time off in February to be super productive and get the bulk of my National Boards written while home with the snow days, I love, love, love the return of spring.

This is my favorite picture of the month

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Wrap it Up- February 2015

What a crazy month where we were only in school for 12 days.  It was a productive month on my end, even with having the boys home for large parts of all most all snow days.  What happened this snowy month?
-Four books read
-Summer camps planned by week with deposits on ones that have the potential to sell out
-Summer camp binder created after attending the area summer camp fair and picking up lots of brochures for future summer ideas when the boys are older
- Lots of work spent on the AP Capstone Diploma launch and area outreach to our feeder middle schools to populate our first classes this fall
- Planned both an adult surprise party for Bill as well as a family party for his 40th birthday
-Settled up travel arrangements for the AP Gov't reading in Salt Lake City
-Mini freeze ahead session and a freezer inventory completed/updated
-Bill convinced the boys to do a toy purge by showing them some put back Hex bug tracks (yes, they still love Hexbugs when I know they have gone the way of the obsolete toy genre)
-spent many a very cold days outside playing in the snow with the boys with no injuries for all concerned
-Finished up Season 3 of Homeland and all of the Ken Burns Roosevelt series, as well as clearing out past 60 minutes, fall Good Wife episodes, and Frontlines that have been hanging around all fall
- Managed to return to my pre-injury status with working out and a goal of 10,000 steps per day. I've joined some friends at work in a workweek contest via my Fitbit.  Since being  home during the day I managed to get in some classes I don't normally get to do including two barre classes and a 30/30 cardio/core class.

The biggest accomplishment was the over 40 pages of writing for my National Board Renewal.  I finished rough, but edited versions for 3 of 4 entries, planned out what evidences including video tape teaching components to use, letters of recommendation needed, and in general a plan to finish and submit by the May deadline. This is a huge, huge accomplishment for me to be this far along on 2/28 given on 2/1, I hadn't even paid the renewal fee yet or taped one class.

As much as a schedule-driven person like myself is, I also took full advantage of lazy mornings where no one was awake before 7 am and I found myself getting on average 7-8 hours of sleep on the snow days.  As much as I'm ready to be back to work and get on with finishing up this school year, I also relish the days that I spent just leading a much more relaxed existence for our family (even high-energy Ian who had several late delayed/early pick up days at daycare when regular public school was closed, I praise you Ms. Pam and Ms. Amy for contributing to my sanity)

Happy almost spring....

Friday, February 27, 2015

What happens when you conspire with spouses and children to plan 40th birthday parties

Wednesday we got a respite from the weather and while Ben was still out of school, Ian went in on a delayed schedule.  Perfect, given by nightfall local weather was a game of which forecaster would get it right with predictions from 4 inches to a foot a snow.  When I had asked Bill what he wanted to do for his birthday back in December he said maybe go to dinner.  I asked again after having a house full of people for my party and he again said I don't know, a typical "Not on my radar, so not thinking about it answer."  So I started thinking if I was to plan something what would he want?  I consulted two groups:  1. the spouses of some of his guy friends 2. Ben and Ian (obviously this was now going to be two separate celebrations.)

What was the result?

Party one on Saturday nightbefore his birthday at a local Brazilian steak house that he loves but I have a really hard time justifying the cost given how little meat I can eat.  I invited five other couple friends and conspired with their spouses believing that is anyone was going to make it out of the house with childcare arranged on a Saturday night, it would be because the wives that would make it happen.  I arranged with my friend Eileen to make a cake in Bill's favorite Dr. Who theme.  Of course there were issues including Ian smashing his hand into the cake just as she opened the box to show me the finished product.  With some strategically placed candles, all was good.

Issue 2 was that our drop in child care we've been using since our babysitter graduated from high school was full.  As in at 5 pm they were full, like never ever seen them this full.  I can only guess a week of being home with snow led to some cabin-feverish parents.  Luckily we quickly called their other location who could only take 3 more children and got the boys secured before starting to think that they boys would be joining us.  We had a great night, minus the very little I ate and Bill was actually surprised.

On his actual birthday, the 25th, we met him after work at Dave and Busters for dinner and video games.  This would have been what the boys planned for Party 2 (or basically for themselves.) Bill had requested that instead of more cake that I get doughnuts from the newly opened, and sinfully good "Duck Donuts" in Cary.

Given that snow predictions were for a up to a foot, we totally got a full dozen.  And yes, that is bacon covered maple goodness.  We came home to open presents, eat doughnuts and watch the snow round 2 start.

*the handwriting on the card kills me and begs of V boy sweetness

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What does it take to educate children in NC?

Obviously not SNOW!  In the annals of denial I was completely NOT thinking that we would miss as many days in 2015 as we did in 2014 due to weather.  When I got to school on Monday I joked that I hadn't seen my students since Thanksgiving.  I had "heard" that we might have a slight chance for some freezing rain on Tuesday, but absolutely didn't think it would stick.  Again, the whole denial thing. Alas, I got when I got up Tuesday for work, was completely ready and was about to get in the car, I see that school is now on a 2 hour delay.  The delay quickly turns into a full on cancellation, making for snow day 5.

Luckily I didn't drive to school like many of my colleagues did only to have to turn around, luckily our Principal allowed teachers to finish up before closing the building.  I had a awful night of insomnia so I literally laid down in my work clothes and went back to sleep after waking Bill to tell him about the delay. By around 10 am, large puffy flakes were coming down and sticking. Forecasting changed from a a possibility of freezing rain to expected 1 inch accumulation.  Since the boys were home we spent time outside playing in the snow while Bill went in to get a few hours of work done in the office.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Greetings from a 60 degree day where almost all the snow has melted and two children are very sad.  Our weekend was filled with the usual Friday afternoon soccer conditioning at Next Level, dinner out with friends' family (son also taking lessons with Next Level) and an attempt to watch our Friday night date of a week's worth of Daily Shows didn't last into the first episode until I was snoring.

Saturday Ben's flag football was cancelled as there was still a good 1/2 inch of ice still on the local middle school field they practice/have their game.  Mom got in a double class workout with kickboxing and a strength class.  I also did a barre class while home over the last days.  Can I just say that everything hurt come Sunday am.  I'm about a month out from falling and my ankle is still tender in one place but finally this week I have felt almost 100%.

Saturday night I surprised Bill with a 40th birthday dinner out with a surprise party with 5 couple friends.  I had coordinated with the wives to make sure all had childcare and could meet up at one of Bill's favorite places to go, a local Brazilian steakhouse.

I had also coordinated to have a cake made featuring a Tardis from Dr. Who.  Wouldn't you guess that as soon as Eileen opened up the cake box, Ian planted his hand into blue icing.  Add to it that our childcare fell through as we were heading out the door and we scrambled to find drop in care.  All of this while trying not to give away that 10 other people were waiting on us to arrive and for Bill to be surprised.

All was saved and Bill was truly surprised and loved the cake.  Sunday was another normal day of heading to church, picking up groceries, including 16 lbs of marked down meat, hence a inpromtu ground beef o'rama while watching the Oscars, add extra long dog walking, booking all travel for Salt Lake AP Gov't reading in June, finishing a 2nd book from the week at home, a Y Guides meeting for Bill and Ben, and a playdate with a neighbor at our house for Ian and you almost have our weekend.

What didn't get done, the remainder of school work that sat untouched.  So let's start this week again and hope we can make it a full FIVE days!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Greetings from the great frozen South

Oh hi... it has been a while. So to let you in on what I've been up to since the start of the month, lots and lots of new semester fun.  Lots of good intentions to post have turned into early bedtimes and early mornings at school.  With a student teacher that needs some assistance plus the roll out of a major program I'm heading up at school... well I've been treading water.

But then we got an inch of ice on Monday night essentially shutting down all life in NC.  Add to it that school has been out for FOUR days and well, we are all a little punchy.  All has not been lost, as the ice lead to some awesome sledding for the boys and some cold mom standing outside making sure that the them of these ice days did not involve a Urgent Care visit.   This year mom was totally prepared with shovels, ice melt, and correctly sized snow pants for all concerned.

 *Note that Ben offered to break up the ice with a baseball bat.  Not a bad idea given it took mom and dad most of a day to scrape our driveway and sidewalks.

Ben convinced me that going down on our neighbor's skateboard was a primo idea.  *Note I let him once as we didn't have helmets with us. Our neighbor's daughter slid into the lake near our house while walking on the way home.  Mom went in after her and all was ok, but very scary and very, very cold.  Earlier this winter I saw a group of kids and their PARENT attempting to walk across a frozen section of lake. It was all I could do to roll down my window and scream, "didn't you ever see that Little House on the Prairie when even Pa Ingalls couldn't save the town's children from an icy death."

Come on, Parents... be a parent!

Poor Ian so badly wanted to make snow angels.  On Wednesday afternoon we had a crazy burst of white powder snow, perfect for a snowball fight, so it was kids vs adults (minus Bill, who was still at work.)

Speaking of work, our new Principal allowed us to log hours at home.  A first for me in the work at home revolution.  I've been grading lots of piled up work, but mostly I've been working on my National Boards renewal due in a couple of months.  The same process when I initially certified a decade ago, there were no children in the house (only that I was pregnant with Ben).

I planned out a YEAR IN ADVANCE how and when I would videotape and then write the supporting commentaries.  Needless to say, I'm amazed between traipsing around outside with the kids, cleaning up the kitchen a gazillion times, and hosting the 3rd grade posse that I found time to start planning writing the four entries, but I would say 28 pages later.  Yes... 28 pages of edited content and a serious timeline/plan for finishing established before the May 15th deadline, that I am secretly thanking these snow/ice days.

How did I spent last year's NINE snow days, might you ask?  Trying to avoid watching Air Bud with the boys and cursing the weather all the while applying for summer teacher workshops.  Since all of the traditional school make up days minus one are when I'm at the AP Gov't reading in Salt Lake City, I could care less when we make them up.

*Note that the joy of 3rd grade homework continued even with SNOW!  A week's worth of homework sent home on Monday.  I attempted to make it *fun* by convincing Ben we could curl up together and share a fire and blanket.  The family that does schoolwork together, stays together!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Overhead last night while going over homework:

Ben:  I need a biography to use for our class wax museum

Mom: Do you want to use the "Kid President" book you like so much?

Ben:  I read the one about Roosevelt, the one that killed a bear, not the one during WWII

Mom: you mean Teddy not Franklin

Ben:  Yeah, my book said he was famous for saying, "speak softly and carry a big stick"
Does this mean I can take a stick to school from our yard  *or collection in the garage*

BUT not tell anyone why I have a stick at school

Mom: uh, no.  I think we need to look up more information about Teddy.  I think you would like him.  He was kinda crazy, like Ian and all those risky behaviors he has.  But in Teddy's case he used it for good and became the President

*Note this book is AWESOME!  Not only does it tell a factual biography from a selection of Presidents from childhood, each story tells how a character trait each President developed in childhood helped them in their presidency.

Who would have thought that Dwight Eisenhower's grandfatherly appearance really covered up a bad temper?

Check out this book, it is a must read for history nerds and non-nerd alike!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Wrap it Up- January 2015

Oh January, you didn't trick us with cold, snowy days.  Rather, we've had mild days, lots of sunny weekends and LOTS going on in the first month of the year.  

In January I/we

-celebrated the new year with a quiet, at-home celebration
- first urgent care/ER visit of the new year went to mom 
- started flag football and soccer skills/drill preseason practice (Ben)
- registered for kindergarten (Ian)
-met with the Principal and Dean of Students at another NC high school piloting the AP Capstone my school is set to launch this fall.  I am excited that these are baby steps into making this program reality.    
- wrapped up one semester with students that I will truly miss and learned just shy of 90 new names for new students taking US History II this spring
- extended birthday weekend.  First, with a Pioneer Woman themed dinner party (d'oh... still need to post pictures, if for nothing else THE FOOD!!)
-Then, on my actual birthday which was spent at the beach with the boys watersliding out butts off
- I also finished three books although my Goodreads account has grown mold I'm so behind in updating. For 2015 I set a much more realistic 30 books.  
-Saw the movie Selma in an actual movie theater, followed by beer to discuss the historical accuracy.  Man, those Social Studies teachers.... you can't take them anywhere. 

By far my favorite decision of the month were the decision to send out to the Universe "paper flowers" to build a garden of great memories and wishes for the next 40 years.  I am so, so glad I didn't second guess myself that this was a selfish and indulgent request of my friends from current times to those who knew me in a different phase of life.  Opening my mailbox to find most January days since the original mailing to read the return slips have made me laugh out loud, stifle back a sob, or mostly be forever grateful for the many relationships I've had that have made my life rich and full. 

This is truly a gift from the Universe.  

That unfolded bit by bit

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mom down

I should post pictures from my recent 40th birthday, but instead I gotta tell you from this chair, where I am parked and watching the Miss Universe pageant that I am indeed a mom down.

Earlier today I took the boys over to Durham for the day as it was a beautiful, and unseasonably warm January day.  We started out at the Nasher museum of art on Duke's campus where there were having family day complete with special events including Scrap Exchange and a lesson on gilding.

Both boys loved building and then gilding their creations. Then we headed over to the  Durham food truck rodeo and check out a former teacher colleague turned food truck owner at All American Burgers.  Since it seamed that all of Durham had the same idea we decided to head back to Duke to the Sarah P Duke gardens.

It was gorgeous outside and after a rainy start to the weekend, the high 50s and sun was a blessing.  all was going well until we were cleaning up and mom fell down some stairs.  The boys were surprised to see mom and not them rolling around on the ground.  Luckily I didn't break anything, but my ankle quickly began to pull up so I limped my way to the exit.

For the rest of the night I parked it, iced it, and made plans to have a friend pick me up for work as Bill was concerned that since I was holding on to the walls, counter, the kids to move from once place to place that I likely didn't need to drive myself into work.  I also consented that I would take a walking stick in with me just in case I needed something to lean on in moving around my classroom.

Some first impression for the students I just met last week.  In all honesty, I'm very happy I didn't break anything as having a big ol' cast doesn't sound much fun.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Last weekend we made our weekly trip to the nearby library.  Ian had decided that he was wearing these Jeff Spicoli sunglasses all day, to church, to the grocery, and yes to the library (including inside)

All I could think of as I took a quick picture was Ian was channeling a mini Marty McFly.

I can't believe this boy is almost 5. FIVE!

Monday, January 12, 2015

40 Wishes for 40 More, Part I

As the first post of the new year I wanted to share something that I have been working on since the holiday break.  I would like to say it was some great idea I saw on Pinterest, but alas I quit looking at the time sucker that Pinterest is over a year ago.  Sometime recently I was out walking the dog and thinking about how much I don't want to turn 40.  I also was thinking about how much I am excited for the party I am hosting this weekend that is part Pioneer Woman Potluck, part Cards Against Humanity Showdown, part night filled with good friends that are my extended family.

Then I got an idea. As a take away from the party I decided that I would send out what I was calling a "paper flower garden" to the guests asking for their favorite memory they had of our friendship as well as their advice on reaching the next 40 years.  I ran the idea by my friend Jen who set up the original invitation to make sure it wasn't tacky that I was sending from myself.  The last thing I wanted to do was saddle anyone with having to take on a mass mailing.  She made some wording changes which I appreciated her thoughts and nod of approval. By earlier today the last notes went out, hopefully to arrive by mid-week.  

Here was what I sent to not only the party guests but some other friends from my adult life to back from high school.  I took some thank you notes in my favorite color, lime green, that I found at Target modified them with heavy cardstock with the message.

I then took scrapbook paper and cut it into strips and added a flower to each.  I loved the ones I found from the Martha Stewart Craft Collection at Michaels. I actually had fun matching up flowers to backgrounds.

 The result was a paper flower garden ready to be enclosed in each note.

Lastly I included an addressed, stamped envelope to make returning easy.  Over the holidays I hit up my favorite one of my favorite stores, A Southern Season, and found this beautiful handblown glass jar to keep all the wishes when they return.

Friends over the years have served as my extended family, many times surrogate family.  I wanted to find a way to let them know how much I appreciate their friendship over time.

I can't wait to see what the Universe returns to me.