Friday, February 16, 2018

One of my favorite quotes credited to Ayesha Siddiqi says, "Be the person you needed when you were young."

When I was young, I needed someone who had a different perspective - a wider lens of life and humanity and culture and experiences than our small (albeit beloved to me) town. I wanted to see more and learn more and experience more. And I was lucky enough that my parents and teachers could see this in me that they pushed me towards those people. My parents (with reluctance but good faith) put me on an airplane headed to Honduras with a group of doctors and dentists when I was sixteen. They also became what I needed themselves, my Dad the curious researcher and questioner - my Mom the ever patient listening ear while I went on and on about some new thing I learned.

As a teacher now, I see everyday that what so many of my students need is someone who simply has the time of day to notice them. I have students everyday starved for meaningful connection.

The person our young people need is

Someone who puts their phone down. and looks them in the eye.
Someone who listens to what they are saying without a planned, predictable response.
Someone who smiles.
Someone who is silly and cheesy.
Someone who finds common ground with them despite age and interests.
Someone who notices when they are particularly happy or sad or worried and then asks them 'you okay?'
Someone who see when they aren't okay at all and need real help and puts them in touch with who ever it is that support them.

They are the most 'connected' generation in history but there is so little real connection. Our young people need us. We all need each other.

Were we lonely back in our day? yes. Were our parents lonely and their parents lonely and theirs for all of time? yes. But the danger now that we did not have then, is that we have this new layer of artificial connection that is also a means for infinite distraction from dealing with real feelings.

We cannot continue to look at our young people and say - we've all gone through the teenage years, yeah, it sucks. we've all been bullied. we've all felt lonely..."  Because although that may be true - we have not gone through it like them. How often have you said, "thank goodness I didn't have the internet/social media when I was a teenager." If you are like me it is all the time. I read back through my diaries and laugh and cringe. And on top of the social media aspect of it - if we're being honest, really honest with ourselves, painfully brutally honest, they are also living through it with parents, older siblings, and teachers who are so 'connected' themselves they aren't there to help our young people sort through the feelings and bounce back.

I'm not trying to say that phones and social media are the problem. But we cannot ignore the potential impact of having the whole world in our palms and we cannot ignore that social media is false sense of connection that encourages us to ignore the people right in front of us.

There's a million things we can do (need to do) so that when I tell my eight year old son about the Parkland school shooting, his first response isn't, "Momma, maybe you shouldn't work at a school anymore." But some of those things are big and take time in a way that my impact is small.

Maybe there isn't even a point to this post. I'm just typing to sort through my own broken, tired, sore, momma-teacher heart. I can do what I can in this little sphere in which I can reach. I can love and hug our kids and have the hard conversations with them and I can look in their faces and talk and connect with them and do everything I can to try to break poor phone habits so I can be a better version of myself. And I can love my students and push them and encourage them and check in on them and in the face of all their wise cracks and bad behavior see that they're just kids who need someone to not back down or go away. (hi, students who discovered my blog - see you Tuesday, happy long weekend. I do care about YOU!)

there's no answers over here in my corner of the web. Just a call to action. Action in love and kindness and grace and connection. None of us can do everything, but each of us can do something. And I hope that what each of us do is Love one another.

Around Here 4 and 5: 01/21-02/03

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this minute.

Intentional Outdoor Hours: 3 hours (of 1000)
Gosh, the weather this winter has been so wacky. Dipping down in the negatives only to zoom up to the low 50's later in the week. It's given me this weird indignant attitude towards being outside like, "if you can't make up your mind, I'm having nothing to do with you!" hahhaa, but seriously, it's very hard to get motivated to go outside in the cold when it might just warm up in a day or two. That's a lousy excuse for my outdoor performance this year so far, but it's the truth.  We've been holding semi-consistently with our #screenfreewednesdays (forgot one wednesday two weeks ago), but the kids are all in because it means we play together as a family to get through the evening without screens!  Grey had me belly laughing when I told him I was going to do some laundry on Wednesday which prompted him to tape up a sign "Laundry free Wednesday" to the tv too!

Reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles but having to miss my local Books 'n Brews book club meeting because #basketballseason and we're just hanging on by a thread over here, but excited to get started on our next book The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I devoured Everyday by David Levithan in a matter of four hours in one night (Brandon's response, "Do you think, babe, that maybe you have a problem?" LOL) I also did a quick read of the first novel my Spanish students will be diving into in the next few weeks, El capibara con botas and it got me so excited for them, they are going to be so successful and I can't wait to see them succeed!

Visiting the elementary school with the Spanish club to teach mini lessons to the kindergarten and first grade classes.  The Spanish club was organized into groups of 3 and 4 and armed with their lesson plan, dance moves, and youtube music videos they brought joy, laughter, and some simple Spanish to those kiddos. It was so sweet and I honestly had tears in my eyes with how proud I was of them. We will be visiting once a month for the rest of the year and the Spanish club students talk about it literally every day.

Rep'ing The Hunting Daddies at the Outdoor Expo in Syracuse, NY. B headed up for the weekend with Jeremy and High Ridge Hunting Preserve. We missed him all weekend, but as always it is great meeting people from our niche in the business world and it was our first time at an out-of-PA expo!

Crossing the 100 day mark of the school year and feeling that haze that blankets these winter months. In need of some warm and sunny weather, thick in the school studies, with the end of the school year still too far away to feel like it's anywhere in sight. Violet and Gemma are homework lovers while Grey needs quite a bit more persuading every.single.night. He is actually on an XBox ban until he can bring up his LangArts grade (that boy and his atrocious spelling!) I have been loving The Comprehensible Classroom by Martina Bex units and really feeling inspired from many great Spanish teachers I follow on instagram. We've got a way to go, but we are marching on through this school year.

Raising my hand for all the things ('helium hand' as one of my besties Loni says). Can I assistant coach Gem's soccer team? (sure!) Can I help plan Opening Day (yep!) Can I chaperone Gem's kindergarten field trip (fun! yes!) Can I chaperone the Senior field trip? (cool! of course!) Can I order the senior night basketball gifts and make the programs too? (yep! I'm on it!) It a lot of things on top of our already a lot of things - but this is how I love people; through service. I'm not good at a lot of things (like showing up on time, or detailed craft projects, or remembering to send birthday cards), but planning - I can do that! And showing up to donate my time - yep, I can do that too! We all just need to carry the part that we are best at and it all gets done.  These amazing mommas have tackled the basketball boosters in the past few weeks and suddenly the load that we had previously been trying to carry lightened immediately.  (thank you ladies!) and not only has the weight lifted - but they've made it so much better because they brought their own talents and ideas into it too. What if that's how we all looked at volunteering? Imagine the incredible things we could do together!

Giggling about Violet's sweet three year old thoughts. After seeing a little bruise I had she asked sweetly, "When are you getting married?" and I said, "Va-vi, I already married Daddy, silly girl." and she said, "no, I mean married again so your booboo can get better!" (because I always tell them my Grandma Helen used to say that booboos will get better before you're married, hehhe).

Squeezing in some quality cousin time. I had a solo momma appetizers and drinks date with Heather (thanks for babysitting Uch!) and it was amazing to catch up and laugh and share good food even in this very busy time of our lives raising young and busy kiddos.  We got to see Caleb's last home hockey game and then celebrated cousin Brookie's 2nd birthday party at her house!

Tracking progress for some of my 100 small things goals in my planner. I'm a sucker for tracking data (#nerdalert) and it has been a constant reminder to stick to my goals when I'm tracking everyday and looking back to check in on them. It haven't been 100% successful, but I love seeing the progress over time.

Committing tiny heart snapshots of our life right now. It feels so fast, so busy, so very messy, so fleeting but these little moments are everything that is our life right now. Grey losing two teeth in two days back to back. Grey making breakfast for me on Sunday morning (pb&j toast, coffee with a side of cookie - the kid knows me!) Gemma grabbing a stack of picture books and reading them on the staircase landing quietly but aloud as though she's teaching a class - asking comprehension questions and little observations about the pictures (Do you see this character's face, why does he look like?") Violet announcing loud enough for everyone in the gym lobby to hear "I pooped in the potty at school!" and so grateful for how easily I can make her laugh and smile in the morning even when she's sleepy. And Rust - my little Gemini baby who is either the sweetest, squishiest, loviest, curliest haired angel child....or the opposite of that (#sweetMotherMaryhelpme) One toilet a day has been clogged for about two weeks in a row #wreckitRusty I love the moment at night when I peel my tired body of the girls' room floor from reading aloud my current book after all the kids have fallen asleep and giving them each one kiss and tuck in. All my babies, all peacefully, quietly (!) asleep and safe in our home - the very definition of a mother's contented heart.

Making chicken over biscuits, shrimp fried rice, keilbasa & cabbage, chicken & veggie casserole, and korean beef over rice.  The kids and I also made cake-box sprinkle cookies and peanut butter lovers cookies (bag mix).

Around Here Week 3: 01/14-01/20

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A glimpse into what it is like to live in our home just this moment.

Intentional Outdoor Hours: less than an hour (of 1000)
I contemplated twice this week getting out and walking during lunch time, but when I looked at my weather app and saw that it was under 20degrees both times I just couldn't bring myself to do it. And then when the weather turned nicer this weekend I was in bed sick. So this week was another bust, but I'm dying to get outside asap.

Reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles with my Books and Brews local book club. I cashed in my Barnes and Nobles gift card from Mimi for Christmas on two new books for future reads: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin and Everyday by David Levithan because I saw the movie trailer and um, yes please.

Loving our basketball family as we all pull together for a teammate who got some very scary news this week. In a matter a few days, the basketball moms and the student body pulled together to make our Thursday game so special and charitable for him and his family. We are saying prayers and thinking good thoughts and we have so many minds on upcoming fundraisers in his honor. Our home game was actually against my students' team - so I was cheering and clapping for both teams as I won either way and lost either way. It turned out to be a great game and I was proud of all those kids that I know and care about on the floor from both teams!

Starting our attempt at #screenfreeWednesdays this week and kind of loving it. It also happened to be the day we had a 2hr delay at school, so the kids weren't thrilled. I was making the sign to hang on the tv and Grey was like, "Are you seriously making a sign? Come on Mom" which I replied, "you'll learn so babe that I'm pretty extra." (LOL but seriously). We made it through the whole day with no home screens and instead played together, read books, and they went to bed early. My AntiSocial app is my favorite thing I've done so far on my 100 small things list. I finished my two weeks of tracking my usage and then set my daily limit to 45 minutes on social media (instagram/facebook). It has really kept me in check on how much I'm wasting time on my phone. I hate that I need it, but I do.

Laughing about Vially and all her funny threenager wisdom. She thinks she's a vampire because she has two teeth on the bottom that are sharp. So when Rusty was annoying her in the car this week, she said, "Ugh, Rusty is being rude to me, can I drink his blood?" She can count to ten but then it gets a little silly - "...ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen, eleventeen, one-teen" So happy to hear eleventeen has made a come back in our home and very pleased to meet one-teen!

Prepping for the 100th day of school which is later this month. Gem counted out 100 mini marshmallows and I finally had a chance to do some closet cleaning during our Act80 day earlier this week. I still have a long way to go, but I hung up a new string of bulb lights, classroom posters, and threw away a ton of unnecessary copies that I inherited. Exciting that it's the 100th day of school milestone but also this next few weeks in the Jan-Feb-March months are tough ones for teachers. Send us all a little prayer if you have an extra one.

Suffering through a bout of the GI bug in our house. Gem missed school on Friday and I made it all the way to last period before I threw up in the school bathroom (#classicteacher) and muscled through the last twenty minutes of the school day. It mildly hit Violet and Rusty but was full blown for Me and Gem, so we were quarantined to mum&dad's bed where we watched the firestick for 24 hours while B held down the fort. Luckily Grey was protected at his sleepover at the Stankan's house (thank you!) We are all doing better now and B has the paranoid feeling that it's just going to come out and hit him out of the blue. Fingers crossed that the several bottles of disinfectant he sprayed all over the house this weekend killed.all.the.germs.

Making three ingredient chocolate muffins for 2hr delay morning breakfast. We had a snack dinner of buffalo chicken dip and dippers (chips & chopped veggies) while we watched the Steeler playoff game, black bean, corn, and rice chowder, chicken chimichangas, and B made chicken noodle soup and potato soup when we were in the throws of disease this weekend. #besthuzever We also had our monthly 'grown up' dinner together (albeit at 10:30p after a late basketball practice). The kids had frozen pizza and I made B and I crispy shrimp and linguine alfredo - so yum.