Saturday, January 31, 2015

What a fast & furious day! Jay turns 10 on Monday, so today is the start of birthday week for her. We started with basketball for Jay, followed that up with soccer for Cee, and then checked off the finishing touches from our list.

I just can't say it enough - I am so thankful for the amazing friends they have in their lives, and I'm equally thankful for my friendship with each of those moms. It's a beautiful thing to know we are all in this together, to watch our daughters grow up together, and to watch these sweet little ladies support each other every single step of the way...through good times and bad.

Now, let's see if I can outlast them on the "who can stay up the latest" front (yawn)...

The big girls are already sound asleep, so it's me against the tiny brigade of 4th graders (yawn).

Peace (yawn)...

Update - 7:45 am...they won. 


Friday, January 30, 2015

Got a new toy today. Pretty excited about it.


29/365 - Target Practice

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Today was a wrinkle prevention day: super sunny, perfectly warm, and don't forget the sunscreen.

Naturally, when we got home from school, we spent every last minute of daylight outside...

...we leisurely kicked the soccer ball, and we happily shot baskets.

Then things got serious. It was time for target practice.

Y'all, this is a very intense thing.

The determination...

The aim and the power...

The acknowledgement of of the aim and the power...

It's all fun and games until somebody's bomb shelter is destroyed.

Then, and only then, are tears a viable option.



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Today I got to spend some quality time with a few of my faves from last year...

Each time I looked away from them, they switched positions.

Sometimes they were subtle; other times, subtle wasn't their strong suit.

Regardless, spending time with them made me laugh...adore...admire...

Such an amazing group of kids - they make me feel confident in our future!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015




Mission accomplished.


26/365 - Minecraft

Monday, January 26, 2015

Cee: Mom, do you want to see my Minecraft house? It's really cool.

Me: Of course! Let's see it.

Cee: Okay, so this is the entry way...

Me: ...Wait, tell me about the art in the foyer.

Cee: Oh, that. It's Mary and...

Me: ...clearly Santa Claus.

Cee: Mom. That's a manger pig. Don't insult the manger pigs. Manger pigs witnessed stuff.

Me: Sorry.

Cee: Just let me give you the tour.

Me: Okay. What's next?

Cee: This is the hallway leading from the foyer...

Me: ...wait. What's the story with the art on that wall?

Cee: {sigh} Mom, keep up. That's Jesus. And the Karate Kid.  They're having a demonstration of "wax on, wax off," and they are also playing with fire.


I don't even know what happened, but I totally admire this brand of creative thinking.


25/365 - 3 Things

Sunday, January 25, 2015

1) I am SO glad my girls are home! They had so much fun at the deer lease, and I could listen to them tell their stories all day long. They are so proud and so detailed with their explanations.

2) I found the most delicious apples today. They're called Opal Sweets, and they are divine. I'm already dreading the arrival of March when they disappear. If you've never had one, you totally need to indulge. I have three left...is it bad that I'm hoping the girls don't notice? I promise I will go buy more tomorrow, but I just need that guarantee that I will be able to demolish one tomorrow.

3) Jay got her first deer! She patiently waited for "at least 30 minutes" for her 92 pound doe to stop and settle in for a delicious meal of corn and dirt. I couldn't be more proud!

Cee almost had her first, too, but she felt a little rushed: her doe was slowly moving, and the tracking just wasn't right.

My favorite parts of all of this are that a) they understand they were hunting for population control, b) they appreciated the young bucks and older bucks they saw and understood why they couldn't take them, c) they understand the responsibility behind each shot they took, and d) they know exactly what kind of meat they want from the processor. :)

And just a tiny bit of mama bragging: they said boys are always talking about how bad a BB gun kicks, and they said, "The .243 is nothing when it comes to kicking!"

That's all for now...



Saturday, January 24, 2015

A throne fit for a tiny tanning princess...


23/365 - I'm a Nerd.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Every other Friday, I get to participate in professional development for Instructional Coaching.

You guys. It's so fun! I mean, I would rather be on my campus with my people, but I get to learn new things with new people, and I love learning.

Every other Friday, I get the chance to fully embrace my inner nerd.

Just in case you're in the mood to see the story (and a video) that anchored our learning today, click here. If you have a heart for kids and supporting them through life, I promise you won't be disappointed.



Thursday, January 22, 2015

Jay is headed to South Texas tomorrow for her first real hunting trip. As you can see, she is practicing her game face for the deer stand. Gotta admire that mental preparation.

Even though her weapon of choice will be a .243 caliber deer rifle this weekend, she still prefers her Nerf bow and arrow for striking fear in the hearts of even the strongest mortals. Please note the camo socks (they're pink)...she's more than ready.

Wondering what she's doing on the computer?

She is planning her outfits, how she'll do her hair, and which toiletries she'll need. Let me tell you - her list includes 8 long sleeve shirts of varying colors, 3 pairs of jeans, 10 pairs of unmentionables, 4 pairs of shoes, 16 bobby pins, and 12 pony tail holders (again, of varying colors...obviously to match the shirts of varying colors), and two chevron infinity scarves.

All while listening to Taylor Swift and occasionally bursting into bits and pieces of lyrical greatness..."I'm just gonna shake, shake, shake, shake, shake...".

Love this little nugget so much!



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm loving the weather this week. Over the weekend, the girls spent most of their time in shorts and t-shirts since it was in the 70s, and today it's gloomy and kind of awesome. I love it.

That giant electric pole in the background always makes me think of the Hunger Games...you know the fence that surrounds the District that Gale and Katniss crawl under to hunt? Whenever it's misty or rainy outside, that pole makes the same kind of noise. A hum-ish kind of noise. It probably isn't supposed to do that, is it?



Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Today I found out I get to welcome our newest interns to our campus Thursday morning. As I constantly evaluate what things challenge me in life, I have decided presenting to new audiences is one of my favorite challenges. I have presented to teachers I don't know, to administrators I don't know, to teachers I've known for many years, and to complete strangers (Once. That was not my favorite. It was terrifying. Really, really terrifying.). But I have never presented to college students.

I haven't been an undergrad student in 20 years, and all I can really remember along the lines of "know your audience" is that I was usually sitting with one of my best friends in the last row with Diet Coke, a bag of Chex Mix, and a hangover from the night before.

I've been trying to stick to a black & white theme with my 365tolife project, but today's picture demands color, and Thursday can't get here fast enough!



Monday, January 19, 2015

Another beautiful day with these little crazies.

We were SO productive today (as opposed to the last two days)!!!

And we went to see Into the Woods. It's a musical, y'all. 124 minutes of musical music. I wasn't quite prepared for that. I love a good musical, but I also love to mentally prepare myself for musicals...

I hope you were all able to take a little time out of your day to appreciate the true meaning of the holiday. I have made a habit of going back to this post on MLK, Jr. Day because I can't help but love the innocence of Jay's message, and I can't help but be proud of the progress we continue to make toward equality in every aspect...from race to religion to preference.

Eventually, we will get there.

And when we do - when we really, truly get there - I feel like there will be so much peace...


Sunday, January 18, 2015

I can't tell you how happy I am that the sun is back out - we were all craving some Vitamin D! What a wonderful day with these ladies (and the gorilla)...

And this is how well I hope we sleep tonight...



Saturday, January 17, 2015

Today we are officially back at it. Basketball & soccer.

Nice basket, little Jay.

Nice D, little Cee.

Couldn't be happier that they're back in the swing of things...doing what they love.



Friday, January 16, 2015

A girl after my own heart.

Can you even imagine the giant grin on my face when I woke her up this morning?



Thursday, January 15, 2015

You guys.

It's here.

It arrived at 2:57 today, and I did not get to put my hands on it until 7:49 pm.

I love it.

And it isn't yogurt...

It is so cute and bright and joyful and uplifting and I can't even believe it's mine!!!

It's Erin Condren. If you want to know more about her and her amazing organizational creations, use this link to get started. I promise every bit of the process will make you happy - from browsing and watching the videos to ordering, from stalking your order once it ships to seeing the happiest package ever on your doorstep, Erin Condren is where it's at.

Trust me on this one.



Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Oh my gosh. I ordered something amazing last week.

I got the shipping notice last night, but that's not enough for me.

I like to know when it's actually moving.

Guess what...

It's moving!!!

It should be here...TOMORROW!!! And I can't wait.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rewind to 1995 - I can't believe that I'm actually telling you that I regularly skipped my summer school classes - The History of Jazz (MUHL 3304)  & Western Civilization I (HIST 2311) for Session 1 and Logic (MATH 2310) & Western Civilization II (HIST 2312) for Session II - in order to keep nearly constant tabs on the ins and outs of the OJ Trial.

I was quite literally glued to the TV for most of the hours of the day and some of the hours of the night (you see, this was before I turned 21).

It was a pathetic thing to witness, I'm sure, but there is no way you could have convinced me to focus on anything else...20 years ago.

This was the summer preceding the fall when I took a 1-hour class called "Welcome to the World Wide Web" and was encouraged to communicate with people outside of Texas Tech using a foreign scripting language called Pine.

We were all completely mind-blown with this whole new virtual world that was presented to us, and I remember my goal was to get to the end of this virtual masterpiece.

20 years later, and I'm still trying to find the end.

And now I get to relive the intricacies of that trial thanks to digital TV, which will be recorded to my DVR and my iPad so that I can relive the entire experience again and again, for as long as my heart desires.

Nerdy nirvana.

And detailed replay.



Monday, January 12, 2015

Limited keyboard, plenty of smiles.



Sunday, January 11, 2015

So this happened. And I have never been more thankful to have the entire keyboard ingrained in my brain. Thank you, 9th grade typing teacher (whose name has escaped me)...

Fortunately, just enough keys work to post this. And fortunately, I can order a new keyboard!



Saturday, January 10, 2015

It's cold outside! And when you gotta jump, you gotta jump.

It's just that simple. Also, when it's cold outside, tall boots and monogrammed boot cuffs make it a little more bearable.

Stay warm, sweet readers.



Friday, January 9, 2015

Participant Guides.

Oh. My!

I spent my morning in a meeting my nerdy little land of nirvana...absorbing new information, taking notes, and perusing brand new books especially ordered just for me for all the instructional coaches in my district.

Here's a dorky little analogy for you:

Kelly Gallagher : My Nerdy ELA/Reading Crush :: Jim Knight : My Nerdy Instructional Coaching Crush

If you're going to make fun of me for this, now would probably be a pretty ideal opportunity...

This morning I got to take notes and watch delightful video scenarios and TED talks and learn fun new things.
Click for Video
And then, out of nowhere, I got two new books! I love books. I love the way the pages feel as I flip them. I love the smell of them. I love that I can take notes in them. Sure, I can read on screen, but there is no replacement for real books as far as I'm concerned.

Did you notice the author? Getting these books was nearly as good as Christmas. Until I realized that I also got Participant Guides for each of the books (I already owned 1).

Participant Guides.

Participant Guides!!!

To me, participant guides are nearly as good as the book itself. They are basically workbooks to go with the real book!

Read from Real Book.
Stop at Designated Spot.
Find Corresponding Place in Participant Guide.

Times two. This is a thing of beauty.

Is it pathetic that nerdy books and participant guides make me more happy than shopping for shoes? Or clothes? Or wine? Or cheese?

If your answer is yes, then let's vow to feel sorry for "people like that..."

If you answer is no, then...you totally get me. And I want to know what your nerdy combination is.

If you need me, I'll be curled up with my favorite mechanical pencils, my highlighters (they're erasable), and my Post-It page markers (which will obviously correspond with my highlighters).


8/365 - Kid Writing

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The thing I love the most about my new job this year is that I work with amazing teachers and administrators who are beyond dedicated to their students and their success. For those of you who envy teachers for all their time off during the holidays, Spring Break, and Summer, I just wish you could see the emails and texts I get from these "on-vacation-people"...during breaks.

They plan. They worry. They rearrange their classrooms to accommodate the girl who broke her leg and is in a wheel chair. They travel miles out of their way to help students who are home-bound. They grade, and they regrade. They learn something new that will help the kids in their care. They buy things that will make their kids more motivated...or that will make their kids smile...or that will keep their kids warm when it's cold outside. I see it this year more than I have ever seen it before, and it makes me proud of our profession.

The thing I miss the most about my new job this year is reading 140+ samples of eleven-or-twelve-year-old-kid writing, because there really isn't anything else that makes me smile quite the same way that kid writing does...

"Write a thank you note to a friend who gave you onion and garlic flavored chewing gum for a gift."

Wickedly dry humor. Love.

And if you have ever played Monopoly, you completely get this. If you've ever played Monopoly with an 8 year old, your heart cringes just a little.

When their creativity goes in the exact direction in which you hoped it would, you celebrate...right alongside the student of the moment!

Any chance I have to let a kid show their creativity is magical for me. Their minds? The sky is the limit. When they start asking questions (like "is it okay if I write about....?" and "could I do this with my writing?..." and "is this for a grade?"), then the moment of magic becomes watered down because everyone suddenly becomes aware that creative writing opportunities are so few and far between that we don't actually know exactly what to do with them or whether or not our ideas are "acceptable." Kids generally feel more comfortable with boundaries provided for their writing (paragraphs must have 4-6 sentences, you must indent but you shouldn't skip lines, your first paragraph is an introduction, your last paragraph is a conclusion, and you must include dialogue, transitions, figurative language [in the form of a complex running metaphor], and only writing that illustrates a deep understanding of stylistic elements will be considered for grading...blah, blah, blah...and spelling counts...), and I cannot tell you how much I wish that wasn't the case.

There are a few very rare moments where you can truly harness a middle schooler's creativity and give them free reign in the direction in which their creativity leads them.

When I find moments like that, I usually just put a smile on my face, hang on tight, pull my hair back, and enjoy the ride!



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

These two. Peanut butter and jelly.

Melts my heart.



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Happy to be back to doing what I love to do...




Monday, January 5, 2015

Jay gets full photo cred for today. She found my camera charger, and she spent most of the day taking pictures. There were a few old ones on the SD Card...going back to July.

These two are my favorites, and they totally capture how much she loves dogs.

I love her for this.

And I miss this guy every single day (July 2014).

This little lady is such a charmer, and the timing to get her in July couldn't have been more ideal, considering...who knew she'd be an only dog after four months?

That's all for today.

And way to go, little Jay, on the fantastic photo captures.


PS - I feel like I'd be a fraud if I didn't share this slide of her Prezi with you. FYI, Bethany Hamilton is 24 as of today, so I'm practically a relic.


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tonight was interesting.

Okay, fine. Tonight was a smidge of  a calamity.

Tonight Jay and I went into a friend's house to pick up Cee, and we ended up laughing, chatting, and visiting for an hour (the kind of hour that feels like five minutes and you wish it could go on much longer). However, I had a pot of stew on the stove and I knew we absolutely needed to leave by 6:30.

And we did. When I turned the key to start my car, I realized that I'd left my lights on and you can probably imagine what happened next: click, click, click... click, click, click...

Dead battery.

Here was the problem: there were only 4 minutes left in the Cowboys-Lions game and I absolutely could not ask for help during the last minutes of Cowboy history. After feverishly flipping through my car manual (no help at all) and trying repeatedly to start my car, I conceded. I needed help.

Lucky for me, the game ended right before we knocked. Cowboys win! R was happy to help me jump start my car and told me I should probably drive around for awhile so my battery could regenerate or whatever it is that batteries do after their owners carelessly let them die.

After at least thirty thank yous, we were on our way home (to check on stew).

So here's the bad: if it won't start in the morning, my Monday is completely dependent upon this device, which I have no idea how to use...

Tomorrow will be a better day, and it's time to call it quits for today because...ugh. Just ugh. :)


3/365 - Texas Weather

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Texas weather can turn on a dime. It was {nearly} freezing earlier this week. Fog. Clouds. Drizzle. And last night, we had a spectacle of a thunder storm that actually caused a house not too far from us to catch fire from a lightning strike. And today? A balmy 64. Just to verify, I typed "high in austin" into Google - not exactly the results I sought...

Today's pictures kind of represent Texas weather.

Jay attended an ice skating birthday party. Good gravy, it was cold in that place!

Luckily, one of her sweet friends had no problem hugging the wall with her the whole time.

Cee's indoor soccer season started today, and since I was helping several 9 and 10 year olds lace their skates, I actually missed all of it. I was SO bummed, but also very appreciative of my friends who took her. And cheered for her. And sent me updates.

Somehow this was the first game Cee has played without a family member there to cheer her on, so I felt like I owed her pizza rolls for lunch.

By around 3:30 this afternoon, it was undeniably fabulous outside and we spent the rest of our day enjoying the brief interlude that was today.

By the time we wake up tomorrow, we will be back to our normal winter weather and we'll be bundled up and snuggled up and we will enjoy our very last day of Christmas break.

It's been a great break, and I think we're all ready to get back into our daily routine instead of staying up late and sleeping in and having brunch.

Wait...who am I kidding?

Oh well, c'est la vie!

Until next time, peace...

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