family · life

14 years

Wow two days in a row you get two posts from me!

14 years ago today I was in the Florida Mall. How do I know this? 14 years ago today Richard and I got married in the lobby of the hotel in the Florida Mall. We have been through a LOT in our 14, well actually 15 years together. I can not imagine anyone else by my side during the good and bad, the happy and the sad, the calm and the chaos.

Richard and I are only only husband and wife, we are best friends. I love the fact that we balance each other out. We don’t complete each other since we are both complete people, but instead bring out the best in each other. We recognize each other’s strengths and aren’t looking to change each other.

Advertisements
book · Education · family · life · reviews

Grit- part 1 — seeing grit in yourself and children

Grit BookI have been reading the book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I haven’t finished reading it just yet, but I wanted to share some of my insights to this point.

Grit is a term that was starting to be tossed around in education before I left teaching. Grit is the stick-to-it-ness of people. This book dives into how grit comes about and how it effects each person in their lives.

I have always felt that I am rather gritty in life. I know that I am in my career path. I am a make a goal, stick to the goal type of person. I know that life isn’t perfect. I know that I am not perfect. I also know that I need to stick to the things that I want to accomplish and that both the successes and failures will assist me in growing in my career. I look at each academic year, each new class of children, as an opportunity to grow and develop as a teacher.

I have over the years seen the difference between a child who has grit and those who do not. So much of education and assumed to be based on ability. While having a high ability often makes school easier, it is not the only factor in a child’s success in school. Over the years the children who have made the biggest impact on me are the ones who work hard and overcome the deficits they come to me with. The kindergartners who did not go to preK and hardly know how to write their name and leave writing sentences. The children who come into the classroom not speaking English and leave as fluent readers and writers. The children who do not recognize their numbers and leave understanding addition and subtraction.

But it isn’t only the students who go from below grade level to on grade level who have grit. Some of the children who I worked with that had the most grit were my special needs children. The ones who fight through the pain, both physical and educational pains. The children who struggle to speak in complete sentences who want nothing more than for you to listen to their story.

What I have seen, in my own sons, as well as many gifted children, is that the gifted children often develop grit later than others. Children who learning come easy to do not have to push themselves to gain academic knowledge. They do not have to work to learn, it just happens. So what do we do for these students? How do we help them gain the passion and perseverance to grow in life? How do we help them learn to overcome adversity and move on with life? This in itself is a form of learned helplessness. They feel that they can do anything so when things do not go smoothly they do not know what to do next.

For Blake, he hit this struggle this year. In math this year he actually had to work. He needed to practice the skills worked on in class. He struggled to complete homework assignments and needed to learn to ask for help. He needed to see that even if he got things wrong the first time he could go back and try again. He is learning that life isn’t simple. That all learning isn’t just a matter of showing up and then knowing how to do everything. One of the big things that Richard and I did was let him struggle. He needed to fail. He needed to see that even after he failed he could do it.

As parents we want our children to be successful. We want our children to feel pride. But, are we giving them true pride by using empty praise? When we do things for our children what are we telling them? What happens when you praise a child for their ability and not their practice? What happens when everything easy? How do we push children without hurting them? Is it bad for them to feel hurt from time to time, or will that actually encourage them to step up and try again harder next time?

How do you find that fine line between helping and hurting. If you do too much you are inviting a feeling of learned helplessness. If you do not help enough at certain times are you also bringing on those same feelings? Where is that fine line? Do gritty parents raise gritty kids? Can you increase your level of grittiness in yourself? In your child? The answer is yes, but is isn’t easy and there are many things that must fall into place. Finding something that you are passionate about and finding the perseverance to stick to the thing you are passionate about no matter what is thrown in your way… that is grit.

 

 

life

Bathing suit shopping…. UGH!

Today I headed to the store to go bathing suit shopping. I HATE this task. I have hated this task since i was a teen. Is there anything worse than going in and trying on bathing suits?

I went to TJMaxx first. I swear there was no A/C on in the store. When you are hot and sweating, inside the store, it doesn’t help you feel better trying on bathing suits. I think I tried on over a dozen bathing suits. Some didn’t fit. Some didn’t give enough coverage, some were not comfortable, some just didn’t look right on me. I did find one suit that I found acceptable.

I then went over to Target. I had less success there. I didn’t even find as many to try on. I swear the do not make bathing suits for people who have any kind of chest. Not everyone is a size B or C cup (or smaller). Not everyone wants to flaunt all their goods.  I do not want to be popping out all over the place.

I know the fact that I’m not happy with my body image right now doesn’t help the whole shopping process. But, I needed a new suit. I’ll need it for our vacation. I’ll need it because it is summer and there are pools and other water activities to do.

At least I don’t have daughters so it is only me dealing with this shopping drama.

food · life · through my camera lens

Happy Birthday Colby!

Today Colby turns 10 years old. He was the person who completed our family. So many people over the years have asked if Blake and Colby are twins or they try to tell us that the boys are alike, this could not be further from the truth. Colby is nothing like Blake. Colby is nothing like anyone else I know.

10 things you may or may not know about Colby!

04_22_c_01

 

1: Colby feels with his whole heart. He loves nature, his friends, his family and so much more. He shows empathy in ways that even some adults wouldn’t understand.

2: Colby works on Colby time. He moves at his own pace in everything he does. While he learned to tell time at a young age this doesn’t matter to him, he will complete things when he wants to finish them.

3: Colby wants to become a scientist when he grows up and has had this goal for years now. For as long as I can remember he has said he is going to find a cure for cancer when he grows up. When Colby sets his mind to doing something he accomplishes it, it maybe on his time table (see #2), but he will do it.

4: Colby loves pasta, peanut butter, bacon, steak and many other things. He enjoys working in the kitchen, as long as he doesn’t have to clean up after himself. He has recently learned to enjoy pizza, french fries and chicken nuggets… it only took him 10 years to like typical kid foods

5: Colby is very creative. He loves to draw, write stories, build with Lego and so much more. He enjoys looking at something that is a known item and making it his own by changing colors, sizes or other variables.

6: Colby loves to do things with his dad. He loves learning to work with tools, help with yard work and just be around Richard.

P10503447: Colby enjoys math. He thinks about math in ways that would seem strange or certainly different to others. He loves to look at the problem and then create a variety of ways to solve it because one way is never enough.

8: Colby loves the ocean. His favorite animal has almost always been a dolphin. When he was younger we traveled to Tampa to see Winter and Hope, there we found a dolphin that they sponsored who’s name is Colby. This dolphin still holds a special place him his heart.

9: Colby doesn’t know there ever was a box. Colby sees the world through his own set of eyes and doesn’t like it when people expect him to see it any other way. He loves to see the world as fluid and ever changing and knows that he will change it as he goes forward in life.

10: Colby is Colby. From his crazy hair to his quirky personality he is his own person. It doesn’t matter if he riding his bike, drawing a picture, working on a science project, or hanging out with his friends he does it in his own way. When you get to know Colby you know he will make you smile just by being near him.

Image may contain: 1 person, child and closeup

Happy birthday dude! (I’ve been calling Colby “dude” since he was in first grade. It fits his personality and he will continue to be dude for as long as he tolerates this nickname) I’m proud to be your mom. Your dad and I are proud of everything you have accomplished in life, the person you’ve become and are excited to see the man you will be as you grow up. We love you!

family · life · through my camera lens

Catching you up on life

Wow I think I missed posting more in the last 7 days than I have in my whole time I’ve been writing this blog. We were busy this weekend as I talked about here. The boys finished up school yesterday, so there were a lot of end of the year things happening. Also, yesterday I had a job interview.

I will hear back from them in about a month, they are between sessions right now and have a board meeting coming up. They also need to finalize with the existing staff what hours they want before hiring. Not that I know if they will offer me a job yet or not. I have another preschool that wants to interview me later in June once they too get their summer program up and going as well as the director of that one is going on vacation in the middle of June.  We shall see what comes about from these places.

I always hate when interviewers ask canned questions. I’d rather you ask me specific questions that I can tell you actually want to know the answer. The first question I got in this interview was tell me about yourself… ummm what do you want to know? I’m a mom, I have two kids, I’m a teacher, I have lots of teaching experience,  ummm umm crickets in my brain.

Another interview question that is always asked that I never know how to answer is “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” Now when I was young (as in right out of college) I was better at answering this… now, not so much. When I got asked this question at my last interview, back in FL, I laughed and said if you asked me this question 2 weeks ago it wouldn’t have been “I see myself interviewing for a teaching position”. They knew this, but that is another story for another post. This time I was like…. if you asked me last year I wouldn’t have said I’d be in Pittsburgh. Life has to be a bit more fluid when you are a mother. I’m lucky in the knowledge that I don’t need to work and that if life says I need to stay home I can. I instead talked about the fact that I want to go back at sometime and get my PhD (that won’t be until we’ve paid the boys college tuition… they come first), and that I would love to teach in a either a HS, tech school or college where people are in teacher training programs. I have a lot to share and I think I’d do a decent job teaching people to become teachers. But again, that is on the back burner right now because I need to take more courses to get the certifications I’d need for that. I think of life this way in 5 years, Blake (16) will be going into his junior year in HS and Colby (15) his sophomore year. In 10 years Blake will be 21 and Colby will be 20 and they will be in college. How can I know what I’d be doing then when I can’t even imagine them at those ages?

Ok enough of that. Blake and Colby finished their first round of mountain biking classes last night. They enjoyed this so much that we signed them up for session two, that starts on Monday. They went a totally different route and actually ended at a different part of the park. North Park is 3,075 acres so there are lots of trails and paths to take. I decided to drive down to where I would pick them up and hike from there for a change. This was an area I’d never visited, but I will be back. I didn’t walk as far or as long as I typically do, but I finished feeling tired and covered in sweat, guess I call that a good workout,

IMG_20180531_175527.jpgIMG_20180531_175817.jpgIMG_20180531_175426.jpgIMG_20180531_175554.jpg

family · life

7.5 school days left

And so the countdown continues. It is hard to believe that the boys only have 7.5 days left in school. This year has been such a whirlwind for our whole family.

At this time last year we were wrapping up our last few weeks in FL. The house was pretty much packed up. The school year was almost over and we were getting ready to set off on our grand adventure. We left FL on June 5th and were moved in to the apartment on June 6th. Sometimes it is hard to believe it has been a full year already.

The boys were talking about it the other night and both feel that this move was good for them. They love their school and feel they have learned a lot this year. They have had their ups and downs, but in the long run they are happy.  Richard is settled into his job and I’m just about ready to send off my resume. I’ve gone back and forth and back and forth on what to do, where to apply, should I apply, should I stay home, what is the best thing.

It is such a hard thing to try and figure out what is not only best for me, but also best for the family. The last job I had pretty much fell in my lap and I I hardly thought about it. I took that position more than half way through the school year, the boys were settled and I was going to be in the same school as them. While the boys are settled, I will not be with them anymore. I know they are old enough, responsible enough and more than capable of dealing with the adjustments that will come along with me going back to work, it’s not an easy decision.

I know that the job market for educators is tough in this area. I know that I have a lot to offer still I just need to make sure that I go in the direction that will bring me the most joy. That will bring me the satisfaction of making a difference in the lives of children…. that is what teaching is all about.

So, my goal is to get my resume sent out and the process started in the beginning of next week. I won’t share more details at this time, but will as time progresses.

I hope you are enjoying the countdown to your summer, whenever that starts in your life. For me, I’m looking forward to our first summer in our house. Seeing the boys settle into the summer routine of life. 7.5 more school days until life changes for us… again!

family · life · through my camera lens

Busy week and birds

This has been a strange week. Originally I had thought it was going to be a busy week. I took Monday and plowed through most of my house cleaning jobs. The boys has mountain bike class Monday night. It had rained before that and they came home a muddy mess, but they had fun. Richard got off work early and met up with me to walk. He decided to stop home and pick up Dixie too. I walked around 3.5 miles. Richard and Dixie walked about 2.5 miles.

Tuesday Colby was supposed to have his field day. I had volunteered to help out. I got an e-mail at 7am saying it was postponed until Friday. The weather was calling for storms, plus they said there were field issues, probably flooding.  I went to the grocery store, made another pasta salad and baked chocolate chip cookies (it was national chocolate chip cookie day).

Blake went on a field trip. Chatham University backs up to their school campus. They have been learning about streams, fish and other natural environments, so they went to Chatham to collect water samples. They also looked at the creatures who live in the stream. After that they went to the garden there and helped work in the garden. They at lunch in the University cafeteria as well. Blake said he had a great time and the campus was “really cool.”

Today is Blake’s field day. We were a bit shocked to not get an e-mail saying it too was cancelled. The rain is now forecast to start at 4 instead of noon like it was last night. So I will be heading over there around noon to help with his field day. Colby is going on a quick walking field trip today. His class is walking over to the lower elementary school across the street. They are going over to read poems to the first graders. He had to write a poem that he shared with his class yesterday and the first graders today.

Tomorrow we are back at mountain biking!

Busy is good.

On a calmer note, we have a new visitor to our bird feeder. Baltimore Orioles. We added an orange sliced in half, added the wilting grapes and are trying to convince the Orioles, and other birds to stay. All four of us enjoy watching the birds visit the feeder. It is so relaxing and such a great way to touch nature.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

family · life

May the 4th Be With You

Image result for may the fourth be with you

Today has been a good day. Richard decided to stay home, and it is not because it is Star Wars Day. Today is my birthday. Unlike many people, I actually try to ignore the fact that I have a birthday. Maybe if I could count backwards instead of forwards it would be better, not that there are many ages I’d like to go back and try again.

Richard and I went to Ford to get touch up paint, my car got scratched the other day when Blake knocked the bike rack over trying to put out the trash barrels. Then we went and dropped off 4 bags of stuff at Goodwill. After that we went to new lunch location. This was a local “dive” that we had never been to before.

We then worked on looking at many of the decorations that we have yet to hang up in the house. We are trying to figure out what we can hang up and what will not work in this house. We decided to hang up some of the photos we have of the boys in the living room. This has helped add a bit more home feeling to this room.

For dinner we decided to try another local restaurant. We had ordered Uber Eats from them when we lived in the townhouse, but had never been to the actual restaurant. We really enjoyed the meal there, and will be definitely go back again.

So, now you know why I got a new laptop and my parents gave me a kindle… they were early birthday gifts. I love days like today when Richard and I can just be alone and do a lot and nothing all at the same time.

Hope you had a great Friday… and May the 4th be with you!

 

Education · family · life

Next step….?

My mind is swimming today. I finally got my teacher certification here in PA. I guess it’s time to dust off my resume and figure out what the next step will be for me. In looking at districts nearby, I learned that the application process is different here than I’m used to from my other times applying for positions. PA has a mandatory application process which includes an essay. I also have to get all my background checks done ahead of time. Ugh! Ok I can do this.

I already contacted my former principal to see which of the essay topics she felt I should base my essay on, At least it can be typed! So now I need to figure out how to write an essay that will grab the principals’ attention for the right reasons. At least I’ve been blogging a lot lately so the whole putting thoughts on paper (well the screen) is not going to be the hard part.

Richard and I both feel that if I get a job.. .I get a job. If I don’t, I don’t. I have way too many other things in life to put a ton of stress on this whole process. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m taking this very seriously and I want to get a public school teaching job. I’ve just learned throughout life that you can’t stress what you can’t control. I can not control if I get a job or not. I can do my best, show up and show them who I am and then hope that I move forward.

For most of my life if you asked me to tell you who I am the first words out of my mouth was “I’m a teacher”. But, my life is so much more than that. I’m a wife and a mother, and nothing could be more important to me than those jobs.

So we will see where this process takes me, but for now… I guess I’ll start working on an essay.

family · life

Not BJ’s

There are so many jobs for parents. Think about it from the time they are born until the time they move out of your house (and beyond) your job is to keep this person alive, that in itself is huge! But that is not the job I’m going to talk about today. Today I’m thinking about the job of parents to teach children to learn to laugh at themselves.

Yep, it’s part of my job to get my sons to see that life isn’t always perfect and when you step back at some of those imperfect times you will see that life is pretty odd and funny.

One way we do this in our house all the time is with pronouncing words. When the boys were little there were a few phrases that we loved and didn’t want to fix, but now that they are 9 and 11 we tend to point out these mistakes. I’m not doing it to be mean, but you can’t go to school saying things wrong. It’s just not a good idea. Often times they mispronounce words that they’ve read, but didn’t necessarily hear it spoken. Some words we can understand the mistake like mispronouncing countries on in the the former Soviet Union or Africa or some of the smaller countries even in South America. These are words that people do not go around using in their everyday life.

Many times when they say something wrong it takes me a beat of two to figure out what in the world they were trying to say, and then I’ll say… did you mean “________”. Or if I know the word right away I’ll just fill in the word and let the story go on.

Ok so this sounds like typical parenting, but there are times when we just have to laugh at it and those time tend to stick for a while in our family.

I’ll give you a funny story from the past that has stuck. One day Richard was making breakfast for dinner and Blake asked to help. Richard told Blake to get out the bacon. Blake went to the pantry and then asked where the bacon was. Richard responded by saying “In the cold section”. Well, Blake couldn’t figure this out so Colby chimed in and said that would be the fridge or the freezer, there is no cold section IN the pantry. Well to this day we occasionally refer to the fridge as the cold part of the pantry.

At the time, Blake didn’t think this was funny, but over the months and now years he has learned to find this story about him amusing.

I mentioned in my post yesterday about calling Costco “not BJ’s. Here is how that came about. When we lived in Orlando, we went to BJ’s Warehouse all the time, actually almost weekly. Well when we moved to PA, they don’t have BJ’s near us so we got a membership to Costco. Ok, fine, well and good…. so now we go to Costco, but for some reason I keep calling it BJ’s when we talk about making lists and items we need. The first time I did this the boys said “It’s NOT BJ’s” and without missing a beat I said… ok so what do we need at “Not BJ’s”. This annoyed them and they kept saying it’s not BJ”s it’s Costco. I would say yes it’s Not BJ’s. So now we often refer to going to Costco as going to Not BJ”s. There are still times when this annoys Blake (in his book things are right or wrong and calling it Not BJ’s is wrong), but we joke about it.

I want my boys to see that yes life is busy. Yes life is hard. And, yes you should strive to do things correctly, but when you don’t… it’s not worth getting upset about. it’s not worth stressing over. and more times than not later on you’ll look back and laugh.