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.

 

 

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family · life · through my camera lens

Sprinkler fun

I feel like I often write about things that my kids are getting to do here that they didn’t do in Orlando. Don’t get me wrong, they had a great childhood there but this is a different childhood. We have created a less structured childhood here. The boys have more freedom and more opportunities to just be outside doing kid things. There are times I think they miss the structure and activities they were engaged in when they were in Orlando, but most of the time they love the quiet, free, open time they have here.

When they were younger they played sports all school year as well as were involved in a variety of other out of school activities. When we moved here we stopped that. The main reason is the fact that they were not passionate about any of the sports they were playing. Neither wanted to do anything to improve beyond the practices and games. I’m not saying they needed to ask for private lessons, but they didn’t want to go kick the soccer ball, toss the football, or shoot baskets when they didn’t have to. So, why pay for something they aren’t passionate about. When you get to their age the teams get more competitive and there is more involved, multiple practices and traveling.

They have both asked to continue acting, and they have another week of theater camp coming up soon. We will see where this goes.

But, this weekend they had another free child first. Playing in the sprinklers. In Orlando we had a sprinkler system installed in our yard. The water that was feed to this was reclaimed water, so the boys were not encourged to play in it. We actually usually ran it at about 5am so they weren’t even awake when it was running.

Here we do not have a sprinkler system, so the sprinklers run on hose water. On Saturday we were watering the front lawn since it had been a while since there was rain. Both the boys just began running in and out of the sprinkler in their clothes. At first they hesitated and were just going up and drinking the water or helping to move the sprinkler. When they realized they were not getting in trouble they went for it.

Sunday and Monday they went out and put the sprinkler in the backyard. These times they actually wore bathing suits. They brought out their water squirters and a bucket. They had a blast playing in the water.

They were just running around and laughing. They had fun… being kids!

life

In Summerrrrr

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Today is officially the first day of summer. The boys have been out of school for a few weeks. The weather has been warm and the fresh fruits and veggies have started rolling into the grocery stores. So, I guess today doesn’t feel any different than the other days. But, it is the official start of summer. The longest day of the year.

I enjoy the season of summer. I love the fresh fruits and veggies of summer. So many of these you can get all year long but they don’t taste the same as summer fresh. I’m looking forward to peach season. Peach is one fruit that I feel is only worth eating when they are summer fresh.

Summer means slower mornings. Later evenings. Less plans and more family time. It means trips to the library, playing games and hiking. Trips to the pool, grilling and hanging out outside. Summer means reading, watching movies and laughing together.

The boys and I went and got library cards on Tuesday. I picked up two books, including the Elite which is the book after The Selection. I am also reading a book about Grit. That book is a bit text book feeling, but it is a good read. Richard already read this book, and we are considering having the boys read it too. I’ll share more information about it when I finish it.

The boys are already spending more time helping in the kitchen. They have already cleaned their desks, floors, closets and toy boxes. Next week we will tackle their bureaus… ugh!

I love the fact that I’m able to spend the summers with my sons. I realize that there will be a time when they don’t want to spend their time off with their mom, but for now, I’ll enjoy it.

So, happy first day of summer to you. I hope this summer finds you enjoying the sunshine and smiles, relaxation and simpleness of life. Happy summer!

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family · life · through my camera lens

One year ago

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One year ago today the moving truck pulled away from our Orlando house. This was such a bittersweet day for all of us. We were excited for our new adventures. We were ready to all be in the same state again (Richard moved to PA in April, while the boys and I stayed in FL to finish up the school year).

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We moved away from the house the boys grew up in, the house they came to when they came home from the hospital. This was the house they played in, got sick in, learned in, laughed in, and so much more.

Image may contain: one or more people and people sittingBut, where there were tears, there was excitement. The boys were excited to go watch our new house being built. They were ready to go experience snow, meet new people, and start off in a new school.

While the move into the townhouse was not completely smooth and we barely survived some days without “killing” each other, it too was a good experience. The boys strengthened their friendship, we showed that you could pair down life and still enjoy. We played games, went to the pool, took in the $1 movies and explored the area.

One year later…

It feels like just yesterday some days and then other times it feels like forever ago. I thinkImage may contain: 1 person, sitting all of us know it was the right move for our family. The boys feel like they have learned so much this year. They felt challenged in school, enjoyed the new people they have met, and have learned to enjoy the freedoms of childhood.

Richard knows that this job was an advancement in the right direction for him. I took the time away to settle all my guys into our new life. I was able to take time and reassess where I want to go in life.

This has been a long crazy year, but it is a fun journey to be on!

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,

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food · life

Tuesday calls for cooking?

It’s Tuesday! Today is a cloudy, rainy, overcast day. We got a notice last week saying that they were doing work on the electric in the area and we would lose power from 8-1 today. Well, it’s 10:22am and the power is still on. I didn’t go to the grocery store or plan any other activities so that I was home today to deal with the dog. When the power goes out there are all kinds of things that make beeps and alarms going off, and Dixie doesn’t like noises like that.

So, originally we only menu planned through yesterday. Last night Blake suggested having pasta for dinner tonight. I decided to make the sauce to go with it too. We had burgers last week and I had purchased extra ground beef since it was on sale. I love being able to make my own sauce. Ground beef, onion, pepper, seasoning mixed with diced and crushed tomatoes…. meat sauce!

I also decided to bake cookies. I decided to make lemon lime cookies since I had a lemon and a lime in the fridge. I found a recipe I liked and ended up tweaking it a bit. I added in orange zest and change the extract with lemon and lime juices.

I think I’ll toss some ingredients into the bread machine and make rolls to go with dinner tonight. I decided on this recipe.

So I guess the fact that I’m waiting for the power to go off hasn’t stopped me from cooking/baking.

What is your go to item when you don’t have a meal planned? Do you make your own spaghetti sauces? Hope you have a great Tuesday!

Must Have Monday · reviews

Must Have Monday- Water

TTM_MHM

If you ask my kids what I drink they will probably say Coke or Coffee, but the funny thing about that is I don’t drink either of those very often. I have had one cup of coffee every morning, or almost every morning since we got our Keurig. I don’t drink Coke very often either. Richard and I will split a Coke when we go out to eat. I do drink Coke whenever I have a headache. Whenever I get a headache I first drink a coke, then I grab Excedrin (which also has caffeine in it). This works almost every time for me now. I started that when I was having migraines and was trying to avoid taking the prescription medications. The doctor I had at the time suggested Excedrin and said just get extra strength, it has the same ingredients as the migraine version.

Ok…. back on topic. So the what do I actually drink the most of… WATER! I drink water all day long. So over the years I have has a large variety of different water containment devices. Here are a few of my favorites.

At home, I love having my BEAST!  BEAST 30oz Stainless Steel Tumbler Vacuum Insulated Rambler Coffee Cup Double Wall Travel Flask Mug with Splash Proof Lid, 2 Straws, Pipe Brush & Gift Box Bundle By Greens Steel. This double walled medal water cup, with straw works perfectly for me as I spend my day around the house. I fill it up with ice and water first thing in the morning. Then as the day goes on I only need to add more water to the cup. This stays ice cold all day long. There are many days when the ice is still there the next morning. I also like the size. Think about it, three fills equals 90oz of water! I don’t like to travel with this cup because of the size and if you knock it over by mistake the water will spill.

For traveling about, and going to the gym I use my Brita 20 Ounce Sport Water Bottle with 2 Filters – BPA Free – Twin Pack, Blue and Orange. We purchased these originally before our first Disney Cruise. The thought behind it was that we could always create filtered water no matter where we were going.  On that trip we got off the ship in Nassau and didn’t want to drink the water when we were on that island. After that, the boys and I began taking these to school because we could refill them in the school sinks and not drink school sink water. Anyone who has been to an elementary school knows the sinks have a level of funk no matter what you do. I take mine with me when I hike and go to the gym. Now I typically do not put ice in this because it is not insulated and will sweat. But, as I mentioned it has a filter that I like, but it also is spill proof which is why send it with the boys to school. It has a pop up top which is pretty easy to open and close, but for the most part you need to squeeze it to get the water out.

As I mentioned last week, we have two types of water containment devices for biking. All four of us have CamelBak Rogue Crux Reservoir Hydration Pack, Black/Graphite, 2.5 L/85 oz as well as CamelBak Podium Chill Insulated Water Bottle, Periwinkle, 21 oz Fill the pack up with ice and then add in the water. It will stay cold while you drink and bike or hike. I have often seen people have these at Disney as well. The water bottle is contoured to fit safely into the cage on the bike and not slip and slide while you ride. The ones I just got for the boys are insulated and which will help them stay cold longer. One thing to be aware of when using the pack is when you aren’t wearing it make sure the pack it NOT sitting on it’s bite valve. I can not tell you how many times we have put the down and found a puddle later (in the car, in the truck, on the ground, or even the kitchen counter). The water bottle has a twist close top, but just like the Brita bottles they don’t really leak even when open since you need to squeeze it.

Richard has two different water cups that he likes to use. He has a Tervis 1228352 UCF Knights Pregame Prep Tumbler with Wrap and Black Lid 16oz, ClearHe takes water with him to drink on his drive into work every day and then refills the cup with bottle water from work to drink on his drive home. The Tervis Tumbler he uses during the cooler months. He also has a YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler w/ MagSlider Lid, Black. This one he is using now because the water will stay colder and the ice will last beyond his morning drive. These fit perfectly into the cup holders in the truck.

Here you go… my must have for drinking water. Well I need to go refill “The BEAST” and keep drinking water. Do share… what is your favorite water containment device? You never know when I need to find another one.

** post contains product links. please read my disclosure statement.**

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel Bars

Yesterday I never did get around to writing a blog post, I’m not sure why, but oh well such is life.

I saw the recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel bars and thought they looked rather yummy. Who does’t like chocolate, peanut butter and pretzels, oh wait I know a few people who don’t, but I like them and that’s what counts, a lot of people like them and that is what’s important.

I made them yesterday… well I made something similar anyway. I followed the recipe, but then “Lori-ized it”. And, as soon as I tried one I was already re-writing the recipe in my head.

This is what I did:

Ingredients
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (divided) Image may contain: dessert, food and outdoor
  • bag of mini pretzel twists
  • 4 oz. box Reese’s Pieces candy
Peanut Butter Sauce:
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Chocolate layer:
  1. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a siltpad
  2. Melt 8 ounces of the chocolate chips gently in the microwave (on low heat, stirring every 15 seconds) until smooth. (my microwave has a melt chocolate setting so I used that, but this is the typical way to melt chocolate in a microwave without burning it)

For the peanut butter sauce:
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat add honey and sugar and stir well to combine.

  2. Bring to a boil and boil for 1 full minute, stirring. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter until smooth.

  3. Stir in vanilla

     

Assembly:

  1. Spread the melted chocolate onto the baking sheet, don’t worry about neatness aim more for a similar thickness across the surface area used
  2. Top with pretzels and Reese’s Pieces. You can put them down at random, or be more like me and spend time making sure they are evenly spaced out (ok a bit OCD there, but hey what can I say?) Lightly press into chocolate
  3. Prep peanut butter layer. I had enough to spread it in an even layer over the whole bar
  4. Add an additional layer of the pretzels and press into peanut butter layer
  5. melt remaining 4 oz of chocolate and drizzle over the top of everything.
  6. Refrigerate until solid.
  7. Cut or break into pieces
  8. Enjoy!

OK… now here is how I’d change it next time!

First I felt this was very honey forward. I would either use 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of agave nectar or switch it all to agave nectar (I am not a huge honey fan even though both Richard and Colby love the stuff and eat it all the time).

Also, I would add salt to the peanut butter layer to bring out the peanut butter flavor more than just the sweet of the honey/sugar combination

I liked the double layer of pretzels (that I already changed from the original recipe), but felt the Reese’s pieces got lost. So you either need to double the amount you use or add peanut butter chips or even peanut M&M’s to up the peanut flavor.

Finally I would put more of the chocolate into the bottom layer maybe only reserve 2.5 oz for the top so it was a true drizzle and not a full layer of chocolate.

Colby tried these out as his after school snack. He loves peanut butter and chocolate together. He loves peanut butter and honey together. He always eats peanut butter and pretzels together. He LOVES  Reese’s Pieces. So this treat was right up his alley. Richard also enjoyed them when he came home from work. I guess I will be making these again, but next time I’ll “Lori-ize” them even more!

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book · family · life

With May Came Spring!

Finally we have had spring weather. The windows are open. Everyone is wearing shorts (don’t look at our scary white legs). It feels good to finally feel like spring is here to stay (we won’t discuss the fact that we had flurries on Sunday).

Today I went shopping. Blake decided that he needed new school shorts. Let me tell you something shorts for boys are hard to find. I do not let my sons wear athletic shorts to school. I make them wear cargo, jeans or something on that idea. Yes, add this to my mean mom criteria. I just see school as their job and I’m going going to work in workout clothes unless I work at a gym or something on that idea. I want them to see that play clothes are play clothes not play and school/work clothes. So after three different stores (Target, TJMaxx and Kohls) I managed to get him 5 pairs of shorts. There was not a pair of jeans shorts anywhere. Oh well!

In my shopping, I did pick up a few shirts for myself, some pajamas and new bedding for our bedroom. We haven’t got new bedding for our own bed in a quiet a few years and it was time for an update! I picked up a few shirts for Blake and Colby as well. Plus Richard needed a new wallet.

I don’t go out shopping very often beyond the grocery store and Costco… so when I shop… I shop!

When the boys got home from school we headed over to Costco. Blake got new glasses this weekend and they were ready to be picked up. We actually got him glasses and prescription sunglasses. He was very happy since he’s never been able to wear sunglasses. Both the boys now have to order adult size glasses. This was a challenge, but worked out fine. I also picked up a package while I was there. Richard ordered me a new laptop. I’ve had this one for quite a while and it was refurbished at the time. I’m excited for him to come home and set it up. The one I have/had couldn’t hold a charge for the last two years so it really is a stationary laptop now. It will be nice to have a lighter laptop that hold a charge so I can use it where ever I want, not just at the end of my island.

My parent purchased me a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers that I started playing with today. I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 3) yesterday so today I downloaded a book to read. I set up Goodreads first and downloaded Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series. I’ve only read the prologue so I won’t share anything about it yet, but I will. Hmmm maybe I’ll take my kindle outside and read later?

I hope spring has sprung in your part of the world. Time to make dinner. We are have quesadillas tonight…. so easy! I have one more recipe from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.  This one is healthy and tasty and full of veggies.

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.