A few weeks ago my middle son and I were driving somewhere. I don’t remember where, but for some reason it was just the two of us. There wasn’t anything unusual about this day that I can recall. We were probably just running a boring errand. Then he made this comment:

“It’s weird how I only have my perspective. Like, we each only have our own perspectives and can’t see other people’s.”

I was speechless. This is a fairly heavy musing. And it was coming from a kid who has to be reminded to put socks on before school almost daily.

After my initial shock subsided. I made a parent type comment affirming his comment and taking it a step further by explaining how this is a reason people sometimes disagree and don’t get along. As we continued on our drive he didn’t bring this back up again, and I didn’t ask where this thought came from (though now I wish I had).

I was reminded about this same notion of perspective in a more embarrassing way this week back at work. After using the restroom in one of the stalls, I came out and happily proclaimed, “It actually flushed!” The other female in the bathroom at the time was one I did not recognize. She just looked at me, smiled, and quickly left. It did not dawn on me how strange I may have appeared to this stranger until hours later.

She probably thought I was giving entirely too much information that was borderline disgusting. But she was missing my perspective of how the toilets in the staff restroom NEVER flush all the way down. It is a very old building with horrendous plumbing (which is probably why last school year they switched this particular restroom to the staff restroom instead of a student restroom since less people use it). She didn’t know how big of a deal it is to have the toilet flush completely. I am fairly certain she is an intern for our 8th grade Social Studies teacher and this week was her first week in our building. From her perspective she saw a crazy middle aged lady come out of a stall thrilled about her waste flushing. What was a small, exciting moment in my day was probably a bizarre and most certainly uncomfortable moment in hers.

It’s all about perspective.

I have a feeling this whole perspective thing observed by my son came from playing video games. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing either. If playing video games helps to solidify 1st and 3rd person for my 10 year old, awesome. Say what you want about video games, but if playing them gives my boys more of an understanding of perspective than most adults have, I say, let them eat cake play video games.

A nice start to a new decade

For some reason I had difficulty jumping on the decade-in-review band wagon. Maybe my last decade, while completely wonderful to me, might seem unimpressive and mundane to others. Maybe over the last couple of years I lost some pretty important people in my life and thinking about that makes me sad. Maybe it just is not important enough to me to thrust how my last ten years have been into cyberspace. Whatever the reason, I just don’t feel like looking backwards.

So I think I will reflect on the start of this new decade instead.

2020 has nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Probably because many of us listened to Barbara Walters saying it regularly, but still. I am excited to have a reason to say it regularly now too.

I have always been a big fan of New Year’s. A reason to start fresh. An entire year of possibility stretched out in front of you. It’s exciting. In my younger years I loved to bring the new year in with a bang: parties, friends, sneaking into bars, singing and dancing and laughing. That is one difference between this past decade and others. I rarely go out or care about parties. I don’t even see my friends as often as I used to. (I do, however, still sing and dance and laugh. Often and a lot.)

Over these last ten years my New Year’s Eve celebrations have been quiet and comfortable. I absolutely love how that has evolved over the years.

So, on this first day of 2020, I cooked some bacon for breakfast, had some Meijer pastries on hand, and made a quiche. We all woke slowly and sleepily with a later than normal start. Our morning was lazy and involved a Nerf gun war in the basement. We then got dressed and went out to lunch at the restaurant where my husband and I had our first date on this day 12 years ago. Now this may not seem like a big deal to the outsider, but it is an unspoken rule in our house that we get take out instead of dining in because of well, children. They tend to be whiny or fighting or unable to stay seated in a chair for more than 5 minutes or suddenly hate any type of food and don’t eat anything. But today it was… dare I say? Perfect.

They sat at our booth calmly, well calmly for kids. They didn’t ask when we were leaving once. They ate all of their food! We had nice conversations and no tablets or iPods or phones were present. And they did not fight.

At one point the waitress accidentally spilled an entire glass of water all over our table and everyone just chipped it to clean it up. No freaking out, no whining, no trying to place blame. The youngest even made a comment that usually it is him making the messes to which our waitress just laughed.

If this day is any indication of what this new decade has in store for me and my family, well, then all I can say is let’s goooooo!

The stuff that no one prepares you for as a parent

I was making breakfast for dinner the other day, and by the time I actually had a chance to sit down and enjoy the food I had cooked, the eggs were stiff and congealed and cold. I ate it anyway. Cold food has become a normalcy since becoming a parent. Actually, I now prefer cold food. OK, maybe not cold, but definitely room temperature.

Let me be perfectly clear here, I am not complaining. I am simply stating a fact about how completely life changes when you become a parent.

I also realized some of this stuff that involves being a parent no one adequately prepares you for. Sure you get endless advice on what remedy is best for diaper rash, how much sleep a child of every age should get each night, how much screen time is too much, how to sneak in those green vegetables, or how important talking and reading and playing with your children is for their development as a human.

But the bigger things, those you hear less about.

The ability to be completely relaxed has vanished from the life of a parent. If I choose to take an hour from my life watching some mindless television show, it is never an hour uninterrupted. And if by chance I am able to stay up after the kids have fallen asleep to get such a divine peaceful hour, I find myself looking around the house making a list of what I still need to do/clean/get ready for the next day. My days of utter and total relaxation have all but disappeared.

The other day I was enjoying a massage, one of the perks of my health insurance, and I kept hearing my phone buzz in my coat pocket. So of course my mind starts to worry that something went wrong and my kids are trying to get a hold of me making it impossible to relax. Funnily enough it was just my Medium Daily Read push notifications.

But in all seriousness, there is a not a day that goes by that a parent doesn’t worry. The worry may change shape from day to day. It may even shrink down to the size of a crumb needing to be vacuumed, but it is always there. Always.

Along with room temperature food, this worry, this wondering if you are doing the right thing as a parent is also now a part of your every day life. Constant questions and concerns ping pong around your brain at all hours of the day. Are their video games ruining their imaginations or making them desensitized?Why don’t they love to read as much as I do? Are they eating enough vegetables? Are they getting enough sleep? Am I letting them fail enough? Too much? And what about that lingering cough? Should I call the doctor? Have I taught them enough about consent? Do they know how awful vaping is for them? Will they try it anyway?

I rarely have any concrete answers to these recurring questions that pop into my brain in a moment’s notice.

However, I have met plenty of fellow parents who are quick to offer their advice because somehow they contain all the answers. And while this is utterly annoying, I often find myself listening intently even if inside I am rolling my eyes. Because maybe I can use a nugget of their advice, maybe they have experienced even the tiniest similarity with their child, maybe that annoying parent can offer a slice of inside information that can help me worry a little bit less.

Parenting is an experiment, you gather up the most information you can and try out some things. We all know that each child is different. Sometimes one thing works and another does not. But in the end, as long as we have good intentions, show up, and show unconditional love, the kids will be all right.

Another aspect of being a parent that I definitely wasn’t ready for is the heartbreak. In theory, I should have understood this part of parenting because I witnessed my own parents dealing with it. But even witnessing it, hell, even experiencing your own heartbreak pre-kids, isn’t enough to fully get you prepared for it.

When your child’s heart is breaking all you want to do is take their pain and make it your own. Last weekend we came home from visiting family and my son discovered his pet snake had died. He had just gotten this snake in August; it was still just a baby. When he told me his snake was dead, he wrapped his arms tightly around me, buried his head in my shoulder and sobbed.

My fourteen year old’s heart was broken, and all I wanted to do was hold him so tightly the pain would transfer over to me instead. I began to tear up, and I don’t even like snakes. But his sadness filled the room, and there was nothing I could do to help him. He had to experience this and cope with it himself.

That is what no one can fully prepare you for when you become a parent: allowing your children to experience pain. And they absolutely must. They must experience pain and loss and failure in order to learn how to cope with it in healthy ways for the rest of their life.

It isn’t that people don’t warn you about this part of parenting because of course they do. And we have all watched our toddlers fall as they are learning to walk. But emotional pain is a whole other beast.

The fact is you do not fully understand what exactly this beast entails until you are forced to stand there helpless as this beautiful little human that you brought into this world suffers.

Never mind the cold food and constant worry, watching your child experience pain is the absolute most difficult part of parenting.

Parenting is leaning against the kitchen sink shoving cold food in your mouth.

Parenting is a never ending list of things to organize or straighten up or scrub clean.

Parenting is restless sleep.

Parenting is a different definition of relaxation.

Parenting is being in a constant state of worry but trying to hide it.

Parenting is a broken heart when your children experience any form of pain.

And yet, despite all of this, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

9 weeks later

We hit the 9 week mark on Friday. This first marking period flew by. I know, I know, everyone says this, but really, just…whoosh. Gone.

So, as I ask my students to reflect each quarter and to make a goal for the next, I will do the same.

My thoughts on the first marking period of the 2019-20 school year in list form:

  1. I’m definitely enjoying the change from 8th grade to 6th grade this year.
  2. 6th graders are much more squirrely than 8th graders, but still hilarious.
  3. With no set curriculum for 6th grade Reading, each week has been an adventure to say the least.
  4. The ESL classes I am also taking to get my endorsement on top of figuring out and teaching a brand new curriculum = utter exhaustion.
  5. I am learning a lot.
  6. The days feel rushed, more so than in years past for some reason, and I feel like I am not digging deep enough into the material.
  7. I don’t want to let these kids down by not being a good enough teacher. This is not a new feeling. This is the same feeling every single year. Does this feeling ever go away?
  8. I feel like this feeling of doubt, of being so unsure has just gotten perpetually worse over the past few years. And I don’t understand why.
  9. Middle schoolers really are the best though.
  10. For reals.

My goals for 2nd marking period also in list form:

  1. Continue plugging away at creating this new 6th Grade Reading Curriculum.
  2. Confer one on one with students. I have never been very good at this for an extended amount of time. I want to really work on that this school year.
  3. Read more books to share with my students. My grad classes are allowing for less and less pleasure reading. Booooooo.
  4. On a personal note, I must start working out regularly and writing more often. This is the first time I have written for pleasure since the end of August. That makes me sad.
  5. Remember my why. Every day. All day. Be the best teacher I know how to be and stop comparing myself to others.

What about you? How have these 9 weeks been for you? Even if you are not a teacher, it is always good to do a check in every now and again.

Cheers to the next 9 weeks! (And once those are done, we are half way through the school year, say what?!)

I was found out

My almost 10 year old lost a tooth the other night. Before bed he was complaining that his very wiggly tooth was bleeding and bothering him. “So yank that sucker out,” I offered my gentle advice. So he did.

He found a yellow plastic tooth from the dentist to keep his baby tooth safe and hid it under his pillow in hopes the Tooth Fairy will find it and leave a monetary gift. He has been saving for a gaming console so needless to say he was pumped.

After tucking him in I asked my husband if he had any cash. Nope. I only had a 2 dollar bill. A $2 bill that had been sent in a birthday card to my 5 year old by his great aunt, and that I had taken from him when he wanted to buy a toy at Target. It’ll have to do. I’m not sure how well other parents have been doing with this Tooth Fairy thing in this day and age of cash apps, but I rarely have cash on me. I usually end up in a mini panic attack about how I’m going to pull off being the Tooth Fairy to keep our children’s innocent love of a make-believe world alive and well for as long as possible.

But this time I failed. I was tired and did not feel like walking out to the garage a whole 20 feet away to get my wallet out of my car before I went to bed. No big deal because I usually wake up early enough to sneak that money under his pillow. This particular morning he woke up before 6am, however, and instantly became upset that there wasn’t any money under his pillow.

“Oh man. Did that darn Tooth Fairy forget again?” I tried to play it cool. And yep, I said again. This has happened before. That resulted in the Tooth Fairy (aka my husband) writing an apology letter explaining that she was just too busy to get to his tooth and leaving him a larger than normal amount of cash. “Well, it is still early, maybe she’s just running late. Go back to sleep.” He rolled over and closed his eyes.

I waited awhile to ensure he was sleeping soundly, slipped out into the garage, grabbed my $2, and crept back into his room. He didn’t move when his floor creaked under my weight. Perfect, I thought. I got this.

Let me quickly paint a picture of what his bed looks like for you first. He sleeps in a loft, the upper half of a bunk bed my uncle made for my cousins in the early 80’s. His guinea pigs are in a cage underneath. He also has about 15 stuffed animals strewn over his bed and 5 pillows in all shapes and sizes, and he uses all of them. Searching for his teeth is not always the easiest feat.

Just as my arm was deep under his pillows and my fingers had found his tooth, his guinea pigs began squeaking. High pitched and loud. He rolled over and looked right at me. “Shhhh go back to sleep. You didn’t see anything.”

He smiled and rolled back over. Because he is also a mild sleepwalker, I was hoping he wasn’t really awake and wouldn’t remember what he saw. A couple hours later he fully woke up for the day and was excited to find that the Tooth Fairy had in fact come with no mention of finding me in his room. Phew! I was in the clear. Or so I thought.

Later that evening, after I had been gone most of the day getting my classroom ready, I picked up the kids, and we went to get some groceries. We were walking through the aisles when he said, “Hey Mom, remember when I found you with your arm under my pillow this morning?” I burst out laughing, “Yes, yes I do.”

I had been found out. He knew it was me. He now knows I am the Tooth Fairy. And probably Santa and the Easter Bunny too. I know he’s at the age when this realization usually happens. But still. We all want our babies to stay young and innocent for as long as possible, don’t we?

After a few moments of us laughing at him reenacting how I looked when he woke up and found me, he said, “So what did you do with my tooth?”

“I gave it to the Tooth Fairy.”

“You know the Tooth Fairy?”

“Yeah, we’re best friends.”

He just looked at me and smiled wryly.

And that is how we left it. I know he knows. I know he knows I know that he knows. But we’re going to keep the magic alive anyway.

Summer Sara vs School Year Sara

Her teaching career began August of 2001.

Each summer since that first year teaching the distance between School Year Sara and Summer Sara gets further and further apart.

Summer Sara is unbelievably relaxed. Laundry not completed by Sunday evening? No biggie. She’ll get to it on Monday. School Year Sara would have an off week if things weren’t planned out and mostly finished by the time she goes to bed on Sunday. Her husband and children feel the wrath of her Sunday stress.

Summer Sara does not know how do anything to her hair except throw it up in a messy bun or sometimes a high pony tail. School Year Sara gets a fresh new haircut at the beginning of the school year and then lets her hair grow out all school year so Summer Sara is able to execute said messy bun daily once June rolls around. This summer she bought a canister of hairspray. Her oldest commented that he’s never seen her actually use it. “Oh don’t worry honey, it will be used when school starts back up, but Summer Sara barely even brushes her hair.”

School Year Sara has NEVER gone to work without foundation, powder, and eye lashes curled with at least 2 coats of mascara. That is her work face, and to be without, would throw off her entire day. Summer Sara can’t remember exactly what foundation is used for.

Summer Sara allows the dirty dishes in the sink to linger much longer than School Year Sara does. Once that school bell starts to ring again, the kitchen must be cleaned and lunches made before bed time. There is no time in the morning to complete such tasks; School Year Sara has learned this well over the years.

Summer Sara attempts to accomplish some tasks that School Year Sara has put off for months. Closets will get cleaned out, walls are often washed, and doctor appointments are attended. And while ‘bigger’ household tasks have been completed by Summer Sara in the past, such as painting rooms, from experience School Year Sara has realized that Summer Sara desperately needs time to recover from the school year. Time to read and rest and just see where the day might take her. Summer Sara must use this time to remember and renew her love of teaching in order for School Year Sara to be ready come fall. So those long lists of summer must-dos have dwindled over the years.

Summer Sara generally does not know what day or time it is. Mornings quickly become afternoons and days turn into weeks. Fridays are uneventful because every day feels like a Friday. But School Year Sara knows exactly what day and time it is as she counts down to Friday.

Summer Sara doesn’t concern herself with what time she goes to bed. Sometimes she’ll stay up late writing or binge watching something on Netflix. Sadly, School Year Sara can barely stay up past 9pm. She puts her kids to bed and then herself.

Summer Sara has a difficult time getting herself up, ready, and out the door before 8am if her schedule deems it necessary. This is strange because School Year Sara has no problem getting out the door by 6:30am each and every weekday. In fact, 8am is like sleeping in for School Year Sara.

Now that it is August, Summer Sara is slowly saying goodbye. She’s trying to get up and go to bed earlier, she’s making plans to get her hair cut, putting on more make up when she leaves the house, and getting the laundry back on schedule. She even cleaned the entire kitchen before going to bed last night. It is a sad, difficult transition, but we must say goodbye to Summer Sara, and usher in School Year Sara.

Farewell Summer Sara, we’ll welcome you back in 8 months. Until then.

European Vacation

My husband and I just got back from our trip to London and Paris. We had an incredible time and are making plans to return. I could go on and on about what we did and what we saw, but instead, here are some of my noticings and musings.

  1. Guided tours are the way to go OK, I know others may say you should just immerse yourself in the culture and avoid those one size fits all tours that only highlight the most well known sites. However, when it is your first, and maybe your only, trip to these iconic places, go see the sites. You are in fact a tourist, so go ahead and act like one. Going to Versailles and the Louvre with a tour guide meant we got to skip long lines of people baking in the sun and be directed exactly where to go. We heard so much historical information that we may have missed if we were walking around on our own trying to translate the signs. In London, we got to see several touristy spots in a guided day trip. If we went to visit Buckingham Palace without our guide, we would have skipped it. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people vying for a glimpse of the changing of the guards and knowing where to find a good spot to see the action would have been extremely overwhelming without someone with us who is in the know. I definitely recommend utilizing the experience and knowledge of the tour guides if you go to the touristy places.
  2. The underground transportation is an experience you can’t miss If it weren’t for my navigationally adept husband, I probably would have avoided the London Underground and the Metro in Paris. And that would have been a shame. Both were our primary modes of transportation, aside from walking, and what an amazing experience they both were. They provided fantastic people watching. One guy had his sunglasses on despite being several feet underground and a cigarette hanging from his mouth waiting to be lit. He was oozing French coolness that I’ve only ever seen on television. I felt like an authentic Londoner and Parisian while on riding on these subways, particularly when we were crammed in like sardines. I was in awe at those who could stand without gripping a pole and not even flinch at the lurching of the many starts and stops. But most of all, the level of consideration in those tube cars was refreshing. People offered their seats to others, no one complained when you lost your footing and fell into them, and when the exit doors were difficult to push open, a gentle reassurance in French was given instead of anger or annoyance. Again, I highly recommend taking these modes of transportation for the experience. But don’t forget to mind the gaps.
  3. The love of bread in Paris made my heart happy How do Parisians stay so thin and fit and still eat so much bread? It must be all of the walking. I saw an endless amount of people walking around with a baguette. No other bags of groceries, just the long loaf of bread in their hand as they walked down the beautiful streets of Paris. Parents with kids in strollers would walk into a small bakery, purchase a baguette and continue on their way ripping off pieces of the bread to share with their child. One evening we ate at a small sandwich shop, and several people came in to get a demi-baguette. They would put it in their purse and continue on their way. Incredible. One word of caution, however, do not put a croissant in your purse. Even if it is wrapped up in a small bag, not even if you are holding a scolding cup of cafe creme and digging around in your purse for your metro card, even then, do not put that croissant in your purse. It will flake all over everything. These golden flakes will, in turn, stick to anything. So messy. Nonetheless, it will taste delicious an hour or so later despite deflating a bit.
  4. Fancy cars and walking Expensive, flashy cars galore in London. Not just driving around, no they were just parked on the side of the street everywhere we went. My husband was a kid in a candy store pointing out all the shiny fast cars every 5 minutes or so. We even took a trek out to a McLaren dealership. It was fun to be around so much fanciness. So much walking. I thought I was prepared. I brought only comfortable sneakers to wear, I had been walking and jogging at least 2 miles a day for about a month before our trip, but I was not ready for the level of tired my feet and legs felt on this trip. My treadmill miles were no match for the stairs, gravel, and cobblestones in London and Paris. But all of this walking made the guilt of eating a croissant or two or three or five nonexistent. It allowed us to see and experience so much of both cities. We could go at our own pace, stop in any store or restaurant that looked interesting, and do even more people watching. I wouldn’t have done it any other way, achy feet and all.
  5. Everyone will try to hold up the moon We went to the Natural History Museum in London. It was free and right next to our hotel, so on a day we didn’t have much planned we figured, why not? It was interesting, but probably would have been more enjoyable having our kids with us. One of the exhibits was in honor of the 50 year anniversary of the moon landing. It was a big, mostly empty room with a huge model of the moon hanging from the ceiling. It was at this exhibit we realized this: No matter where you are from or what language you speak, if there is a huge moon hanging from the ceiling, people will stop to take a photo in front of it so it seems as if they are holding it up. Despite our differences or our language barriers or how far we traveled from home, we really are all the same at heart. The excitement when we come across a sweet photo op cannot be denied. We all just want to look as if we are holding up the moon.

Bizarre Monday Morning Questions

I had been up for a couple of hours when I heard stirring in my youngest’s bedroom. As I walked closer I could see flickers of sunlight dance into the hallway. He was checking to see if it was morning time, as he calls it.

Lately, when he wakes up, he comes barreling into the living room looking for me. But today as I peeked into his bedroom, he was just sitting on his bed talking to himself. He wasn’t in a hurry to get up.

“Good morning,” I sang to him.

“Are we going to stay people?”

Ummmm, what? Not the response I was expecting. Confused, I tried to ask a clarifying question suitable for a five year old.

“What do you mean stay as people? Like, not change into animals or something?”

“Yeah, are we going to stay as people?” he asked again, a little more firmly yet as simply as if he was asking for some fruit snacks.

“Yes,” I answered confidently, “yes, we stay as people.”

I was waiting for him to elaborate or tell me a story that would help give this seemingly urgent question some context, however, he just continued to sit there contently thinking and mumbling to himself.

But I had to know more.

“Did you have a strange dream, babes?”

“Yeah, I had dreams. Pac-Man’s eyes got scary and he tried to eat me.”

Yikes. “Well, that’s not a good dream. Maybe less video games for awhile,” feeling a flash of guilt for allowing possibly too much screen time this summer.

He must not have heard the last part of my comment because he did not protest. Instead he happily got up and started his day.

The answer he gave about mean Pac-Man didn’t fully answer why he asked if we stay as people, but I had a feeling I wasn’t going to get a detailed answer, so I Iet it go.

I couldn’t stop thinking about how bizarre his first remark of the morning was. When I mentioned it to my husband he connected it to his learning about caterpillars and reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle repeatedly.

That seemed like a logical explanation. But of course my imagination gets carried away sometimes, and throughout the day I found myself wondering what he meant by that question. Should I be concerned? Or impressed? Is he having some deep enlightenment about the human soul? Is this him trying to understand loss and death? Or is he simply wondering/worried about morphing into something else like a mean Pac-Man?

I will likely never know exactly what caused him to ask that question. I will only be able to continue to ponder the crazy dreams his little brain is creating. And I have a feeling I will forever remember the question, “Are we going to stay people?’

Should be fun to bring up again when he’s a teenager.

A little love post on my youngest’s birthday

My youngest is 5 today.

He was a bit of a surprise. We wanted him of course, but after a couple years we figured another it wasn’t meant to be. We began talking about fostering and adopting.

But then, a baby was on its way. There was a moment of fear at one of my first doctor appointments. A heartbeat couldn’t be found, and I was ushered to the ultrasound room. I asked the technician if she would tell me what she found. She told me she wasn’t supposed to, but she would. I was fortunate, it was just my extra belly rolls preventing a heartbeat to be easily found in the examination room.

The ultrasound easily picked up a strong rhythm.

I remember feeling a bit more anxious with this one. I was older. Geriatric. His due date was originally July 4, which I was fun, but I was worried that having 8, if that, short weeks with him before school started up again wasn’t enough. That worry only increased when his due date was pushed to a week later.

I didn’t have daycare lined up yet. My previous daycare had said no when I ran into her one afternoon early into the pregnancy and asked if she had any room for an infant. I had been researching and visiting other childcare providers and couldn’t find any I would have felt comfortable or could afford leaving my newborn with.

I felt a strong urge to want to stay home with this one. My last one. And soak up every minute of it.

But financially that wasn’t an option, and deep down I know I am not meant to be a stay at home mom.

I remember visiting my grandma while pregnant with him. That amazing lady must have sensed my anxiety. After our visit, as we were saying our goodbyes and giving our hugs, she looked at me and said, “Everything will turn out OK.”

And it did.

He was born around 11 o’clock at night on 7/11. (No, I don’t remember the exact time nor his weight or length, judge away judgy people, but seriously who cares about those trivial details?!).

Because it was so late we couldn’t have visitors. He just stayed naked and snuggling on my chest for a good long while without anyone else vying for his attention. Just me and my littlest man.

We didn’t even have a name picked out for him at the time of his birth. It had been narrowed down to 2 options, but it was a few hours after he was born before we made it official.

All my worry about daycare and leaving him to go back to work did turn out OK just like my grandma said it would. I ran into my previous childcare provider again a few weeks after he was born, and she said, “Well of course I have room for you! I thought you were asking for someone else.”

And then I found a new job. Normally it would seem that starting a new job with a a newborn would just add even more stress, but this job was meant for me. While it was more of a commute (thank goodness for a husband with more flexible mornings), it was my dream job. It was fun and different and I had much less planning and grading to do. My time at home was time I could fully be with my babies.

Everything turned out OK. More than OK.

My now 5 year old is a perfect mixture of both of his older brothers’ personalities. He drives me crazy and makes me laugh at the exact same time. He likes to snuggle and is also independent. He makes hilarious faces when he finds something exciting. When his brothers start wrestling he jumps right in without any fear and often wins the match. He feels his feelings strongly and shares those feelings with anyone around him.

He is loud and loving and everything I could have hoped for.

Look at that pure joy on his little face! He was so excited to get that giant egg.

Happy Birthday, Baby Cakes.

A Nerdy Slice of Life

Yesterday I drove over to Parma, Michigan, only 2 hours away, to attend my 4th Nerd Camp. Never heard of it? Well, to answer my husband’s question, “In one word what is Nerd Camp about again?” Books.

OK that is not a good representation of what it is at all.

It is about the love of everything literacy. Authors come from far and wide. Educators in every form travel from all over the country. And they all meet up at Western High School in Parma, MI.

It is one of the most interesting forms for professional development I’ve been to. An incredible energy is created when readers, writers, and educators are in one space together. There is so much positivity in the air it is almost palpable.

I am not exaggerating.

Educators are the most passionate, intense people in the world. Imagine all of them in one place with well known authors and advocates like Jason Reynolds, Laurie Halse Anderson, Pernille Ripp, Donalyn Miller, Alicia D. Williams, Minh Le, Jillian Heise, Patricia Valdez, and Laura Shovan getting them even more hyped up and ready to conquer the world.

It is a pretty awesome experience. And if you have the chance to go next year, do it.

Here are just a few takeaways from yesterday:

  1. We need to talk more and often about what consent looks like, feels like, sounds like with our boys.
  2. We need to talk about what consent is with all genders when they’re young.
  3. We need to stop being nice and start making the good kind of trouble.
  4. We need to channel our anger in ways that focus on making change and help our students to do the same.
  5. We need to get uncomfortable.
  6. Our students need to be recognized in our classrooms.

I was so excited to hear Jason Reynolds speak. If a student tells me they don’t like to read, I can usually booktalk one of his books and their mind has been changed forever. He is highly talented, so gracious and personable, and gorgeous to boot. #authorcrush

Plans I have made after attending this year’s Nerd Camp:

  1. Book a Day challenge
  2. Getting my hands on Jason Reynolds’s new book Look Both Ways as soon as it comes out
  3. Purchasing and reading: Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga, How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons, and Small in the City by Sidney Smith

I know you are probably thinking, what only 3 things on your to-do-for-next-school-year-list? Pfft, slacker. Maybe I am a slacker. Oh well.

But here’s the thing. I want to actually do those things, and if my list is too long I get overwhelmed. So for now, I am trying to get my hands on and read as many relevant books as possible and thinking of exactly how I can display my Book a Day challenge board.

And here’s the other thing. There are bigger items on my to-do list that aren’t necessarily tangible or something to display or heaven forbid, sell on teacherspayteachers. I need to start by talking to my own sons about consent. I sent my 14 year old a picture of one of Laurie Halse Anderson’s slides about what consent means. His response? ‘I don’t get it.’ So today we had a little discussion. One that we will continue to have.

I need to work on welcoming uncomfortable conversations. Get comfortable with discomfort. I can do this by recognizing my own biases and continuing to learn and grow. I can also stop avoiding necessary discussions. You know when families and friends say we can talk about anything except politics and religion?

Yeah, that needs to come to an end. Let’s have those conversations.

**Sidenote: Nerd Camp MI is actually 2 days long, but sadly, I could only go for one. **