How to Shop for Groceries with Small Children

Start out strong by heading to the grocery store with a list that’s half-written, following two other errands, testing the limits of an eighteen-month-old who missed his nap and has been awake since 5AM because the four-year-old woke everyone up to find out the name of the third color in the rainbow.

Locate the shopping car-cart and happily jaunt through the produce section while serenaded by faux-traffic sound effects as the children appear to be getting along in a precariously tight space. Elderly couples smile and make passing comments like, “You certainly have your hands full!” and “What sweet boys you have!”

The day is young.

Make it to the deli counter and through two more aisles before the “Beep! Beep!”s turn into “Mom, he hit me!”s. Grab a snack cup of cookies from a basket by a register and loudly announce to no one that “Mommy will pay for these when we’re all done shopping!” as you thrust them into the hands of the eighteen-month-old, as if the hands used for hitting could also be used for sharing.

Elderly couples are now avoiding eye contact.

Regret sets in as you realize there is little to no reward at this point for the effort it takes to negotiate turns from one aisle to the next when pushing an eighteen-wheeler car-cart around the grocery store at noon two days before New Years Eve. Exactly zero snacks have been shared with the four-year-old. Hands are still being used for hitting.

Crazy Mom Eyes make their grocery store debut as you duck your head into the front of the car-cart to negotiate a peace. Eighteen-month-old isn’t feeling it, would rather scowl angrily and eat all of the snacks.

Remove eighteen-month-old from the car-cart and place in the regular shopping cart seat, much to his disdain. Emits loud war cry to alert all other shoppers that this is not okay. Make a mental note that two snack cups may have been a better choice.

But you’re in the homestretch! Frozen foods, dairy, and that one thing you forgot seven aisles back! The four-year-old now has his feet sticking through the “windshield” of the car-cart as the eighteen-month-old blasts a random playlist of music from your iPhone.

Elderly couples are amused. You are avoiding eye contact.

Make it to the register. No one is crying, but everyone is over it. Hand the cashier the empty snack cup and smile, but she is a teenager and very confused about why you’re trying to pay for it. Finally, everything is in bags and in the cart and you’re loading the kids into the car before you realize you forgot that thing seven aisles back.

Decide you can live without it.

It isn’t long before they’re both passed out in their car seats. Peek back at their sweet cherub-like faces and wonder if entertaining the idea of a third makes you certifiably insane. Decide to take the long way home because nap time is sacred, and there are four more hours til Dad comes home.

Pray for patience and vow never to do such a crazy thing again, or at least until next Thursday 🙂

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For Them

If you ask seven-year-olds about the values they hope to see in a leader, they’ll tell you first about the importance of being kind. They’ll tell you they hope for a leader who is respectful and fair, one who is accepting of others and one who tells the truth.

They’ll tell you about the courage of Martin Luther King Jr., the leadership of George Washington, and the tenacity of Susan B. Anthony.

They’ll tell you that when you vote, you should choose the leader who represents your own values the best.

So how do you look a seven-year-old in the eye when the country has just elected a leader who is none of these things?

To be a teacher at this moment in our history is a complicated thing. Waking up this morning to know that twenty-two eager, curious seven-year-olds would want to talk about and make sense of an election that has been so divisive and ugly made the drive to work a little longer, the preparation for the day a little more daunting.

My job is not to decide for them if the outcome was good or bad. It is not to support one set of beliefs or disparage another. It is to teach them that every voice has power, and that the world will always move forward.

Today, my class of seven-year-olds celebrated the journey our country has taken to ensure that every voice can be heard. We celebrated the fact that we live in a country where the people have the right and incredible responsibility to vote. We celebrated the people who have used their voices to lead and look out for one another, through some of the hardest times our nation has faced.

At a time when it’s easy to despair, or to participate in the hate that is so pervasive, we can make the choice instead to rise above it. We can teach our children to be respectful and speak well of others, to stand up for what they believe in and never stop. We can celebrate the awesome privilege of being a citizen of this country, and show them how to be the kind of people who will bring communities together; the kind of leaders who will move us forward. 

We have to do these things, because our children are watching.

Regardless of how you feel about the outcome of the election, let them see love in your response. Let them see kindness and compassion in how you treat each other. Let them see acceptance in the face of hostility, and the value- the power– of every individual’s voice.

Let them see that love will always trump hate.

A Letter for Five Years

HB,

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It’s been five years since that day in the park. If it weren’t for the laugh lines and the crow’s feet taking up residence on my face, I wouldn’t believe that it’s actually been that long. It’s been five years but when I look at you, I still see the same boy who stole a kiss on the steps of our hotel, who held my hands at the sundial and promised to love me for both who I was and who I would become.

Did you know what you were getting yourself into?

Five years ago we were just a couple of kids who really had no idea who we would become. We had no cable, no “real” jobs or even real dishes. We were living in our first apartment across the street from The Scary Sheetz and it was good for midnight chilidogs, not so good for general feelings of safety.

But we were barely in our twenties and didn’t worry much about that part. It’s our own place! We have furniture and groceries and pay bills like real grown-ups!

(Just remember to lock the doors.)

It was before careers, before kids. Before college loans came out of deferment (laugh-crying emoji) and before we really knew what we wanted the rest of our lives to look like. We did know that whatever happened, we were going to do it together.

You see, we were a long time coming. You won me over ten years ago, and when we found our way back to each other, I knew I couldn’t let you go.

We were sure of each other in a way that you only can be in your early twenties. We exchanged vows and made promises to learn and grow together, having no idea what that would look like. But we’re in love! It will be fine! We can take on the world!

Has it always been easy? No. But it has been so good.

In five years we’ve navigated lost jobs and new jobs and multiple jobs at once. I don’t think either of us could have imagined we’d be here, in careers that we love, through the sacrifices it took to get this far; through the days of long late shifts at Outback and early morning commutes to jobs that just paid the bills.

Not that we’ve totally moved past that point—but at least our day jobs are rewarding?

 We’ve had two beautiful boys since that day in the park, who have taught us how to love harder and unconditionally, and also how to function on little to no sleep. All of that learning and growing together? It happens in those early morning hours when grace is hard to come by. It happens when the little people look to us for values, for life lessons, and we have to decide what they are; when we have to negotiate how to show love and patience and cheer each other on, even when we don’t particularly feel like it.

In these first five years, we’ve celebrated big accomplishments, held on tight through transitions and the unknown; we’ve lost people we love and watched relationships change. We’ve changed.

There are so many who warn people against getting married young. Figure out who you are first, they say. Take your time. And maybe they’re onto something. Maybe there’s merit in that. But figuring it out together is beautiful, too.

Five years have passed and many things are still the same. You are still my safe place, the one who makes me feel sure and steady when I can’t get there on my own. You are still strong and thoughtful and compassionate, the kind of man I hope our boys grow up to be. You are so talented; fearless and bold in ways that I’m not.

But the man you’re becoming? He’s even more handsome than that boy I met ten years ago, if that’s possible. He’s found his passion and pursued it, and he continues to support me to do the same. He is an amazing father with more patience than I’ll ever be able to muster. And through each step of the journey, I am falling more and more in love with him.

These years are so full—of challenges, of happiness, of change. I can’t imagine figuring them out on my own. Being married to you is the single best thing, and I can’t wait to see where our story goes from here.

Happy anniversary, HB. It has made me better, loving you.

 

Currently // 9.9.16

So, it’s September? As in, the summer is over?

Labor Day has come and gone and I didn’t wear white pants nearly as much as I wanted to. Try and stop me.

I also haven’t managed to eek out any real writing since this post and the likelihood of having the mental capacity to make that happen this school year? Not looking good. This post and this post are some oldies but goodies, and proof that– at one point in my life– I was capable of writing more than lesson plans.

In the meantime, here is some semi-real writing that my or may not interest you, readers, but I’ll be glad I threw together when I’m rereading and reminiscing this time next year.

1 // Feeling accomplished that I was able to read so many amazing books this summer! Here are a few– all fantastic, all highly recommended, all coming to a book review post eventually.

One True Loves // The Royal We // Where’d You Go, Bernadette // Me Before You

2 // Wondering how my babies have gotten so big! Landon just started pre-k and soccer, and is loving every minute of it.

Alex looks like he could be in pre-k, because he’s huge.

He is also as ornery as ever. He loves playing outside, eating all of the snacks, and being held. And if he isn’t doing one of those things, he’s probably sitting on his Paw Patrol car “reading” or watching Bub-Bub-Bubble (Guppies) and wondering why he doesn’t have a snack in his hand.

Landon is the best, most patronizing big brother. Yesterday, he told Alex to use nice words and be a bucket filler instead of a bucket dipper (thanks, preschool) in a voice at least an  octave higher than normal. He lets Alex play with his blocks and gives him the big Legos sometimes, and listens for him to wake up in the morning so he can go talk to him. They throw stuffed animals at each other and sometimes Landon climbs into his crib to show him how to jump in it, and Mommy gets ten uninterrupted minutes to not look like a zombie 🙂

3 // Recommending these tech tools for teachers.

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Smore is a great platform for my weekly newsletter. I use the free version, so I just update the same one each week- which is kind of great because the link for parents is always the same. Very user-friendly, lots of features you can embed, not ugly.

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Until this year, I’ve had to painstakingly craft a template for my year long plan in Google Docs, or worse, on a sheet of butcher paper large enough to wallpaper half of a classroom. Enter, Real Time Board. And lots of meticulous hyper-linking because have you met me? Easily shareable, user-friendly, very customizable. All the thumbs up.

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Finally, Seesaw. Download it now. It’s an extremely kid-friendly platform for building a digital portfolio, and parents can connect to see how things are going! I’m very excited to use this tool in student-led conferences this fall.

4 // Trying Airbnb for the first time next weekend on our anniversary trip to San Francisco! Very excited to explore a new place, check out some new restaurants, and not be woken up at 5AM by a four-year-old telling me to scooch over.

5 // Grateful for a summer full of sweet memories– in between working, of course, because teachers don’t exactly spend the whole summer lounging by the pool (in case you were misinformed about that).

There were day trips to “Big Bubble City” (Baltimore) and lots of visits to the library. Friends to visit, trampolines to jump on, and pools to be terrified of. Alex drank water from the pool and also water from a public science exhibit and is still alive.

I traveled to Florida (twice), Connecticut, and New York. My favorite trips were the ones I got to take with this guy 🙂

HAMILTON HAPPENED and it was absolute perfection. Took lots of selfies. Still can’t believe it was real life.

And now it’s September and Landon is trying to decide if he’s going to be a firefighter or a knight or maybe a ninja for Halloween. I’m up to my eyeballs in papers to grade and lesson plans to write and emails to answer. Pumpkin spice is everywhere.

And I’m so excited that fall is (almost, basically) here because that means THE HOLIDAYS are coming 🙂 Aren’t you?!

Happy weekend!

Things I Know at 26

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Going to bed before 10 is the absolute best.

The size you think you wear means nothing, so always try it on first.

Choosing a planner will forever be my Everest.

It’s possible to watch a single episode of Friends seventy billion times and it will still be hilarious and perfect.

Watching Jimmy Fallon is good for the soul.

Only say yes to the things you really want.

Love loudly and be grateful.

Treat your body well, and it will treat you well. But chili dogs are good, too.

Spend more time listening and less time talking.

Put in the work and don’t complain.

There is no wrong way to eat Nutella.

Few things require more self-discipline than going into Target and only leaving with what you came for.

Speed cameras are serious business (but you can go twelve over and it’s fine).

Adulting means paying bills and scrubbing tile grout but it also means you can decide that leggings are pants.

If Meryl Streep is in it, it’s going to be fantastic.

Always bring a sweater.

If at first you don’t succeed, find a how-to video on YouTube.

Find the time to recharge and rest, or you’ll pay for it in premature wrinkles and undereye bags.

(Thirty is right around the corner, you know.)

Take that trip, catch up with old friends, go to that concert. Eat all of the chili dogs. These are the hardest years, and these are the best years, and it keeps getting better.

Currently // 4.24.16

Sharing 10 Things Moms Actually Want for Mother’s DayHusband, please note numbers one and ten. And also note that my love language involves iced coffee, tacos, and sleep, but obviously not at the same time. 

Running an all girls STEM club for second and third graders! Very glad that my administration bought into this hair-brained idea (and didn’t mind my crazy emails over Spring Break) and loving every minute of it! It’s all very girl power and the boys are all very jealous 🙂 We started by building Rube Goldberg machines and introducing the second grade nuggets to the Engineering Design Process, and this week we’ll be using GoldieBlox kits to learn about torque, propulsion, momentum, and levers to ramp up our designs. Can I just do this all the time?

Reading like I don’t have a life-consuming day job, children, and two grad classes to keep up with. Blew through three good ones this month– all must-reads!

Wildflower, by Drew Barrymore

It takes every step to get to where you are, and if you are happy, then God bless the hard times it took you to get there. No life is without them, so what are yours, and what did you do with the lessons? That is the only way to live.

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Hamilton, by Ron Chernow

Hey, yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young scrappy and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot.

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Ok, so maybe that part wasn’t in the book.

Z, by Therese Anne Fowler

While Scott stayed up all night sketching out ideas, I fell asleep to the happy thought that everything was possible, anything might happen, and circumstances could change with speed and drama no one in Montgomery would ever have believed. The Montgomery girl I still was on the inside kept wanting to stop and gape, to take in the wonder of the scene or event. The New York woman I was becoming, however, didn’t have time for that girl… I was all too willing to leave her behind.

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Wishing I was still on vacation! Best. Birthmas. Ever. Well, except for that time we had sixth-row floor seats for Justin Timberlake 🙂

Having these thoughts on the election:

Recommending this tinted lip balm!

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I am the least adventurous person when it comes to lip color, so this is perfect. It isn’t long-wear by any stretch of the imagination, but even when it’s gone, it leaves behind a little tint of color. Good enough for me!

Pretending Alex isn’t turning one in two weeks. #babyforever

Procrastinating lesson-planning and dishwashing and so looking forward to having Tuesday off! Have a great week, everyone!

Cliff Jumping

I grew up just on the line of where civilization ends and the country begins. Almost every road was a backroad and you could see cornfields for days. It was totally normal to disappear for hours riding bikes or sledding or playing by the creek– or crick, depending on who you’re talking to.

It was summer. It was the summer after my freshman year of college, and I was counting down the days until I could go back. It was the summer when I felt like the whole world was in front of me and I had no idea where I fit. I was tired of thinking about it, really. Tired of thinking about my GPA, about scholarship essays, about whether my major was right and how I was going to pay for three more years of it.

That summer was particularly hot, and I was particularly bored. I was grateful when a friend from high school invited me to tag along with her boyfriend and his cousin to swim at Licking Creek. Yes, Licking Creek. Can you hear “Deliverance” playing in the background?

We hiked to the top of the cliffs that overlook the creek. There were three, and the highest was about forty feet from the water. The boys took the plunge from the top without thinking twice. They called up for us to jump, too, and I saw both my life and several Lifetime Movies flash before my eyes.

But what else was there to do?

I knew that if I thought about it too long, I wouldn’t do it. And if I looked over the edge at all, I definitely wouldn’t do it. I made them promise for the one hundredth time that it was deep enough. I took a few steps back so that I could get a running start.

As soon as my feet left the ground, I wished they hadn’t. In reality, the fall probably took less than ten seconds. It felt like an eternity. I remember thinking about how stupid it was. I remember bargaining with God that if I managed to end up not paralyzed, I would never do it again. I remember wondering why I jumped in the first place.

Everyone says that teenagers do stupid things because they think they’re invincible. While that’s entirely true, I think there’s more to it. At least there was for me. Jumping off of that cliff was one of the few things I felt in control of in that moment. It was terrifying and incredible, all at once.

There was also no going back. I could feel myself falling through the air, and I could feel my anxiety building as I got closer to the water. Would it hurt? Would I touch the bottom? Where would I even swim to?

We jump because it makes us feel like we’re in control of something, and in falling, we realize we aren’t at all.

That afternoon became disgustingly metaphoric for the year that followed. I made it through two more semesters of school before I couldn’t afford to go back. I moved home, changed schools, and changed majors. There were several self-loathing mix CDs and a really angsty Tumblr page. My whole life was in a slow-motion free fall and I had no idea what was waiting to break it. Where would I even swim to?

It was an awful feeling when I finally hit the water. The boys later said it looked like I was sitting in a chair as I fell through the air. I sank deep into the creek and it took some time to get my bearings before I swam toward the surface. Looking back toward the top of the cliff, I couldn’t believe I had actually done it.

Deciding to start a family at twenty-one, and last year when Mike changed jobs, found me feeling a lot the same. It was terrifying and incredible all at once, and if we had thought about it too much, we wouldn’t have done it. That’s most of your twenties, isn’t it? Sometimes you’re pushed, and sometimes you jump. Cliff, after cliff, after cliff.

I can’t believe we managed to take care of a baby that young. I can’t believe we were able to pay our bills with a pay cut just six months after buying our house. And don’t be fooled– just because we did it, doesn’t mean it was easy. There were plenty of moments when we wondered why we jumped in the first place.

And that nineteen-year-old in free fall? I wouldn’t have believed you then, but being pushed was the best thing that could have happened to me. I fell back into a relationship that became a marriage, that led to two beautiful boys. I fell into a major that became a career that I love.

It took falling to realize that I’m not in control at all.

If there’s one thing I know for sure after a quarter century of trying to keep it all together, it’s that I can’t. And that’s because I wasn’t meant to! I’ve spent so much of my life trying to make sense of the details, of every cliff I’ve encountered, of the ugly or unremarkable or uncomfortable, and there’s no other explanation except that I am being passionately pursued by a God who is bigger than the box I’ve tried to put him in.

And it isn’t contingent upon me. He pursues me the same when I’m at my worst– when I’m at zero cups of coffee on a Monday, when I push back, when I’m impatient or stubborn or frustrateding– as He does at my best.

There’s so much peace in that. I don’t have to worry about what’s waiting at the bottom, or where I’m going to swim to. His plans are always so much bigger than ours, which makes this life even more of an adventure. Cliff, after cliff, after cliff.

It’s terrifying and incredible, all at once.

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