Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 12 of 2012

Why not relive my Top 12 Favorite Moments of 2012? Here it goes!

Cape Cod Beach Jump.  See how excited we look? It's the January promise of a new year...416402 10100105461511097 1853989146 o
Toasting at the Top of Cathedral Rock- We had another amazing trip to Sedona with many highlights. I loved hiking to Devil's Bridge with my cousin as well, so that moment is a tie with this one. I love the Cathedral Rock hike and somehow we had to foresight to bring drinks to the top with us this time, because why not?
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Car Ride to Vermont. One of my college friends got married in Vermont this May, so we took a road trip up there with Katie and Adam. The backroads of Vermont are a unique spot, and finding Katie's mix from high school really added to our fun.
Meeting the Babies. This year three of my best friends had babies and meeting each of their babies was a special moment. I was completely shocked by Tiff's baby Lia, how SMALL she was! I've become more used to the smallness now but I'm still amazed by the kids. I have to admit that before this year I really didn't understand the greatness of babies, I prefer walking and talking children. I'm still not a "baby person" but I've come to love and appreciate Teddy, Lia and Liam because I love their moms so much.
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11 Mile Hike- Our week spent in Seattle with my college roommate Ash this summer was definitely a highlight of the year. I loved our 11 mile hike on the Olympic Peninsula. It really hard to hike on a beach for 11 miles, but yet there was something so peaceful about it. Plus, we really deserved that Thai food we had for dinner! IMG 5198
Train ride to Vancouver. Truthfully this whole trip was amazing. I got to "meet" Lisa, Amber and Anais and explore a beautiful part of Canada, all in less than a week. They are all so much fun to hang out with and such great friends, so it's difficult to pick a moment of this trip that I loved the most, but man that train ride up to Vancouver was unexpectedly so much fun. I wish all train rides could be this fun.
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Summer of Weddings. I know this isn't a moment, but Eric and I had 6 (or was it 7?) weddings this summer and we had the absolute best time at all of them, it's impossible to choose one moment.
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Inspiration Point in Grand Teton National Park. Another amazing trip this summer was a week spent with my family in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. The beginning of the Inspiration Hike was a low point for me as my stomach was still really bothering me from the plane ride before, but eventually I recovered and got to see an absolutely beautiful view at the top.
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Crossing the finish line in Triathlon #3. Another highlight of my summer (obviously I love life in the summer) was training for another triathlon with 3 amazing friends from work. We had a blast meeting up for swims and bike rides all summer long. Then, we had even more of a blast doing a triathlon together after we survived the first week back at school.
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Cape Cod Visit. Most years Eric and I spent at least 1-2 weekends a month at the Cape. However this year with my parents house closed up, we only visited occasionally. This fall we took a trip down and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in our old stomping grounds. We had the most relaxing weekend, visiting our favorite restaurants, taking a cruise around the harbor, walking the beach several times and both reading the same book and talking about it nonstop. We didn't even turn on the TV the whole weekend, which is pretty crazy for us.
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Dance Party with the kindergarten kids. My kindergarten class this year has it's challenges, but this past week I tried to focus only on the amazing things about them. They love, love to dance. We enjoyed so many great dance parties this week. They especially love the Kidz Bop version of "Call Me Maybe" (it actually says "smile showing" instead of skin was showing… amazing) and Cotton Eyed Joe.
Christmas Eve 2012. This was our third year hosting a Christmas Eve celebration and it was as much fun as it always is. I decided to give it a theme this year, and it was "Christmas Around the World." We enjoyed some food from around the world, and everyone shared where they most want to go in the world. Another addition was that our friends Sarah and Brian joined in the fun. Sarah and Brian are Jewish so we did an awesome "religious exchange" program with them this year. They served us a delicious Hanukah meal and taught us how to play dreidel. We got them their first Christmas tree and decorated it. Then, we finished it off when them joining our Christmas Eve celebration. Fantastic way to end off another wonderful year.
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What were your top moments of 2012? Share! 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Helpers

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world." - Mr. Rogers 


I feel like I need to say something, but like everyone, I don't really know what to say. 

As you all know, on Friday, 26 people were killed in an elementary school shooting. From what I can tell from the name/birthday victim list, it looks like most of what happened was in a kindergarten and first grade classroom. Kids who were born the same year, the same month, even maybe the same day as my 22 little kindergarten children. 

Meanwhile, I was at work, in my kindergarten classroom trying to get 22 excited for Christmas and vacation children to listen to one single word I said. My phone was vibrating in my purse, but I was busy attending to IEP meetings, concert dress rehearsals and trying to manage the tears and whines of "he pushed me!" and "but she cut me in line!" 

After work I continued blissfully in my work-related bubble, with a work holiday party and some after party drinks at our favorite bar. It really wasn't until I got home that night around 9:30, that I started to be exposed to Facebook and Twitter and realize what really happened on Friday. It wasn't until I had checked my work e-mail and seen more than one parent asking me what I planned to tell the kids on Monday...

It wasn't until I started reading the stories of teachers my age, with students the same age as my students, who had to shield their students from a killer, or barricade themselves into a bathroom with twenty something students… 

It wasn't until I saw the list of victims names, and their birth dates… 2005… 2006… that I realized the magnitude of what happened in Connecticut on Friday and how lucky I am that my biggest problem that day was students pushing each other in line, or fooling around when they were supposed to be writing. 

So where do we go from here?

Well I don't know. I really don't. I'm not going to point fingers and blame this person, or that law. I'm not going to blame the media, though I am going choose to not say (and hopefully eventually forget) the name of the person who did this. I choose instead to discuss the heroes, the helpers, and the kids. Victoria Soto was a 27 year old first grade teacher, who hid her students in closets and cabinets to protect them. Both Victoria, and her colleague Anne Marie Murphy, died shielding their students. There was a little girl (age 6) named Charlotte Bacon who was killed on Friday. Her mom reported that Charlotte had been wearing a beautiful pink dress and new boots that were supposed to be for Christmas on Friday. Apparently, her mom wanted her to save them but Charlotte insisted on wearing them to school. I can see this image of Charlotte in so many of my little girls. Chase Kowalski, another victim, also six year old, completed his first mini triathlon this summer and won it. There are many more wonderful, but heart breaking, stories like these. 

I hope that when my own students test my patience this week, and I know they will, that I don't let one second go by where I forget what is really important, that they will have the luxury of choosing their outfit the next day, of riding their bike outside if it's warm enough or playing in the snow when it comes. 


Also, some reads that I have found interesting this weekend: 

On letting the nurturer's nuture

On 26 moments that restored our faith in humanity this year

On being the mother of a mentally ill child

And of course, where I got the stories I mentioned above: On portraits of the victims





Sunday, December 2, 2012

Music, Miles, Looks, Books of November

Another month has passed and I peaked at my goals yesterday to see if I had met them… and I met, not a single one. Haha, oops! Let's just pretend that didn't happen :) 



It's all about Christmas music in my world right now. The country music Christmas station on Pandora is on repeat right now. Here are some of my favorites: 

Christmas in Dixie- Alabama + Kenny Chensey

I'll be Home for Christmas- Rascal Flatts

Away in a Manger- Brad Paisley

Put a Little Holiday in Your Heart- LeAnn Rimes

Thank God For Kids- Kenny Chesney (I'm not sure why this qualifies as a Christmas song but its on Kenny's Christmas cd so it goes here… absolutely love this song, use it in my end of the year kindergarten slideshow every year).



I ran this month, probably twice a week. I have no record of how many miles. That's about all :) 



About a month ago, I saw Caroline wearing a dress that I just had to have. I love it...

Here I am wearing my own:

Kelly dress 

And borrowing Caroline's:

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Obsessed. If I could own it in 12 colors I would. But alas I could not because it was on major sale and there were only 2 colors left when I got there. Oh well, won't complain about a major sale. 

Get ready to see an irrational amount of sparkles/sequins in my December outfits. 



It was not the best book month for me, so please send some recommendations my way. I'm still confident I will hit my 50 book challenge because I fully plan to spend my end of December vacation reading 5 books if that is what it takes, which it might if I don't start reading again right now haha. In my defense, I am taking a class right now so a lot of my reading has gone to that. I don't know how Iowa Amber reads so many books while in school, I can't do it. 


This is a story about a mother who has her second baby and learns right when she is born that her daughter has Down Syndrome. I personally thought it was a honest and very feel-good story. Probably my favorite read of this month. 


The history of this book is fascinating because it's about the people in Germany who were against Hitler (obviously they weren't in Germany for long!) It was something I hadn't read much about, so I loved that part of it. But the fiction part was a little flat for me… could be just me though. 


Obviously, I read this for work. I have a student this year who's parents have been using this approach for him and it's been working well so I'm trying to apply some of it at school. It's actually a really interesting approach and validates a lot of what Eric and I say we personally think works best with kids (hint: it's not just being mean and telling them what to do all day haha). It's a bit hard to change the mindset of "I am the adult and you are the kid so you will do what I say" (which by the way, is not a mindset I am against!), but it does make a lot of sense. I'd recommend this book for teachers and parents, even if your child isn't particularly "explosive." 


Goals for December 

I've set goals every month this year (I think?) so I'd love to finish on a high note! 

1. Take 1 photo every day and post to Facebook. I'd love to do a 365 day photo challenge, but I'm scared. I don't post pictures of my students and I don't have kids or a dog, so that kind of gets rid of all the default photos haha. I'm going to try to do it for the month of December and see how it goes. It's been one day and I put a photo up last night, so day 1 = done. 

2. Read 5 books. I have to be on my reading game this month to meet my 50 books in 2012 challenge. Second recommendations my way, please!

3. Stick to my own treats. This is a time of year of treats. Most important, Gharadelli Peppermint Bark is back. Heaven. Anyway, point is- there are enough treats around, I don't need to steal Eric's and therefore eat double the treats. I started this a week ago and so far I'm doing well, heres to hoping I can keep it up for the month. 

4. Enjoy the season. Ask Eric, I tend to wish away the Christmas season, not because I don't love it… I love it. But my kids at work are EXHAUSTING at this time of year and I get into "just get me to vacation" mode. But, this year I am not going to do that. I got all my Christmas shopping done already and all I really have to do is some wrapping and putting together… plus read 5 books and finish the class I'm taking. But I can do that. I know I can. So, I'm going to enjoy.