gotcha day

October is such a fun and busy month: 3 turns 4 and our Bruttie boy turns 10 a week later. There is a lot of celebration and far more cookies and pizza than usual. This month, we decided to do our family fun date around 3’s birthday because that’s what scheduling permits. I can’t wait to write a recap of that. Alas, I digress.

The most pivotal thing that’s ever happened in October is 3’s Gotcha Day. We officially adopted our little man two days after his second birthday. Our judge was also an adoptive parent and truly spoke from the heart when he met us. I will forever be grateful for his decorum: He gave our two year old child two stuffed animals (Rainbow and Nice Bear as they’ve so lovingly been named) and a gavel. We hired a photographer for our special day and there are some doozies in there with our son waving that gavel proudly.  It was a really memorable day, filled with high-fives, fist bumps, an appearance by his foster family who loved him so deeply, and more tears than I could qualify.

In the days leading up to his adoption, my husband and I were able to sneak away to Savannah and Hilton Head, sans children. It was nice to have a bit of space to process everything that was going on. It had been a stressful few years where infertility blazed the way of all of our stresses and my hormonal rises and crashes. Not fun. Alas, those feelings were largely erased after our little man’s gotcha day.

He had spent ~730 days in foster care prior to that day and it was a relief to know that we could help him to break the cycle. We are quickly approaching our two year anniversary of this special day and I am just beside myself that I get to be his mommy. He has the sweetest little voice and the best personality — he is athletic and shares my love of books; he’s never one to turn down a muffin, even if it means he’s taken it from the trash and attempted to dine al fresca. He is my best little buddy who I take on flights and travel adventures and who never turns down a trip to the zoo or local library.

It’s hard to get through the month without taking a pause to reflect on this special day. We have pictures from the courthouse in our hallway and we always make a deliberate effort to talk about his adoption and remind him how special he is to have so many people love him and want what was best for him.

Of course, adoption and his gotcha day is not made of all sunflowers and applesauce. There is trauma and questions of family history at the forefront of our minds. It is constant. Still, we continue to approach this day with care and love and our best intentions with our family’s light.

 

meal of the week

I have been trying to think about how I could blog about our meals — I enjoy keeping a running record of our favorite things and always enjoy reading other people’s favorite meals. This week, I am going to showcase my favorite breakfast: Stuffed Acorn Squash.

This recipe is from True Roots (P11) and always feels like such a decadent choice for Sunday brunch — there are only four ingredients and with sugar-free sausage, it can be Whole30 & Paleo. Sausage, Celery, Egg, and Acorn Squash complete this dish — we always sprinkle with hot sauce too.

Bonus: You get to eat out of an acorn squash!

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This is one of those meals that you eat for brunch and you’re full throughout the way but there’s no guilt with any side dishes, be them fruit or mimosas because you’re putting so many nutrients in your system to start the day.

We will probably make these again this coming weekend because we enjoy them so much and we know the kids will have a nice, healthy filling meal before our family date date takes over and everyone is filled to the brim with sugar.

What are some of your favorite breakfasts?

hot toddy

When I was in college, one of my pledge sisters had a boyfriend, “Toddy too hottie” — this made the rest of my pledge class gag. Eventually she dropped from pledging, but the reference lives on in my mind and queasy stomach when I think of my favorite fall drink.

If I’m being honest, my favorite drink on its own is actually just hot cider. I typically have one non-water drink per day and nearly every single day in fall, that drink is hot cider. I’ve also somehow managed to get 3 hooked on it. He has a little two ounce mug that he sips his cinnamon cider (microwaved for :30).

Tonight, though, my husband and I are planning to enjoy a nightcap while watching the Rays take on the Astros. We greatly bond over our mutual love of playoff baseball and my vast enjoyment of brown liquor.

Now, I haven’t always enjoyed brown liquor and even the reference takes me back to a dear friend’s wedding where we had ‘the clear and the brown’ and … I almost fell out of my seat, so I’d taken a long-time hiatus from the brown unless out at a southern restaurant.

Tonight’s recipe is simple: In a pot, we like to mix cider, lemon, and cinnamon; when it’s warm, we add 1T of bourbon (correct, it’s not even a shot but my face goes numb after half a glass of wine, so I’d like to be coherent during our baseball and toddy evening). Of course, I take no pictures because I’ve not had my phone on me for much of the day.

I’m going to search Pinterest for other fall and winter night-cap ideas but am always open to other suggestions as well.

 

Social Media & The Library

If you can’t tell, this week’s Emerging Tech assignment was to research social media and the library. Honestly, I’ve been really excited for this unit! I actually do use social media and mostly to find interesting articles (also, pictures of sweaters and food and dogs). I have always been one who can’t read enough — always with a book in hand, a magazine on the table, and an article pulled up on my phone. (Admittedly, I hate reading on a screen but I tend to search for articles when I’m waiting on something/someone, and thus, enter the iPhone.)

Our assignment for the week was to figure out a social media plan and also to annotate a handful of social media sources. I did this while watching baseball (why is playoff baseball so entertaining?!) and was so excited that I basically attacked my husband and toddler with everything I’d found when they returned from their weekly trip to our public library.

First and foremost, I’d never looked on WordPress for blogs related to the library. I think it’s because I started this blog to talk about my family and myself. I found several sources here including a blog post that I re-blogged: The Death of the Library is Easily Reversed. This blog post gave me some pause to think about what before/after school options I could offer in the library classroom to meet the needs of students.

After my foray in with the WP search bar, I moseyed on over to Twitter. If you’re on Twitter and want to give me a follow, my handle is: @themumoirs — spoiler alert, it’s mostly about sports, food, and toddler tantrums. Ah, the good life. I have been following some academic-facing feeds for a while though (not everything can revolve around Pittsburgh sports’ teams). Some of my favorites for the library classroom are: MassBook, Digital Commonwealth, and NELA (which is a general site for libraries for all of NE — I like that there are resources posted frequently for how to improve upon the library experience and I think that a number of public library ideals can be used in the school library).

I also did some researching on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. Let me just say, I LOVE Insta — I find it so much more refreshing and less to deal with than Facebook. I also can appreciate the privacy features on this site. Whereas my WP and Twitter feeds are public, I keep my Insta and FB private. I like the ability to have as much or as little a digital footprint as I please.

Now, to the social media plan. I put a decent amount of thought into this and wrote mine up accordingly. One thing that I can’t stop thinking about is how to use the BitMoji app to create cartoon versions of students to use in intranet-based chats and forums. Obviously, this would be contingent on the school’s policies and tech-based options but I really like the idea of having a level of anonymity while still being tracked (student log-in/IP) so that bullying doesn’t become an issue. This is something I will have to table for later but it’s definitely something I want to explore more.

I am really enjoying everything that I’m learning in this class. I want to also play around with the different apps, digital media forms, and websites I’ve reviewed in recent weeks and see how I can embed elements into library classroom social media page. I also understand what my limitations are — as a non-youngster, I’m accustomed to using Facebook and Twitter but I’m concerned that it won’t reach young people with my enthusiasm, so I think I’ll need to reach out to the school VSCO girls and learn about the cutting technologies that the teens are utilizing.

I’m excited to continue in my tech search and can’t wait to work in a school library, where I’m able to fully (or even partially) implement my plans.

The Death of the School Library Is Easily Reversed

I found this post about school libraries interesting and mostly wanted to share so I could find it again to read.

Pages Unbound | Book Reviews & Discussions

Years ago, my school library closed.  The administration declared that no one was using the library and that it had become “obsolete” with the age of the Internet.  The room that was once a library is now a computer lab.  And the administration probably still feels proud that they are being “innovative” and keeping up with modern technology.  The irony, however, is that the school library was only ever as obsolete as the administration and faculty made it.  And, if they had wanted to, they could have saved the school library within a few months.

My school library closed because no students ever used it.  No students used the library because it was primarily open during school hours and briefly after–and no teacher ever seemed to think about bringing their classes to the library.  Students were not allowed out of class for essentially any reason (except, of course, sports), so…

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Digital Media

I will admit, I opened this week’s module for my Emerging Tech class in the parking lot of a new yoga studio I was trying. I am pretty certain that my heart stopped beating for a moment when my professor told us that we needed to create a piece of online media. Yikes! I went on with my morning — yoga, a meeting at 3’s school, and back home for lunch with my favorite toddler and our pup, all the while this weighing heavily on me. I feel a lot more confident giving others creative ideas on how to do things; but for whatever reason, when I have to be creative, it seems like my brain ceases to work.

I decided to do a video in the Animoto App. This app is really neat and allows you to create animated slideshows. I enjoyed playing around with it last week and thought that I could really delve in and spend some time on it today. While 3 was napping, I uploaded photos and created a theme: Summer in Review, more or less. I used pictures (but none of my kids’ faces) to display some of our favorite summer highlights. Honestly, I could have posted thousands of pictures from the beach. Living in a beach town allows us to go to the beach nearly every single day and that’s essentially how I spent my time with 3 & 13 while 11 was at camp; alas, I chose to add in some other highlights of our summer.

My Animoto video can be found here if you missed the linking above: https://animoto.com/play/Lx0TsAghV1pNPzXgGgOPPA

In addition to creating my own little slice of digital media, I was tasked with creating a lesson plan that utilizes five video clips and three podcasts. Much like above, this was slightly stressful for me at the onset. I admit to not being tech savvy; I have never worked in a school that had bounds of technology, which likely contributes greatly to this. Further, I’ve never taken a super interest in video/movies. The first school I taught in didn’t have books; my classroom floor buckled and was condemned by the fire marshall, thus sticking my class and me in a conference room that frequently had no tables-chairs-or both. This led me to wait outside of a meeting Michelle Rhee was in: I, then, took her to my classroom and asked for a new floor (it worked). Needless to say, the situation was dire and as I’m sure you can imagine, if schools in the nations capital were unable to provide physically safe spaces then think of the kind of technology that was accessible. Incidentally, this school was the only place that I ever showed a film by checking one of the TV carts: My ninth graders were rockstars and at the end of the year, when we finished Romeo & Juliet, we watched the 1999 version of the movie. They loved reading and having the text to connect to and felt really accomplished being able to discuss the text in our “cafe classroom” those final days.

While I did find success with this relational book-movie, I never really had success finding things that seemed interesting to my students. I always incorporated music into class and had students create digital media when possible but modeling/showing examples has always been such a weakness for me. Thus, I tried to approach this assignment with the most open mind and deep breathing exercises for the stress.

My professor recommended a mash-up for us to watch and read about this week: It was a conversation between Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Twilight. I thought it was really well put together! It was easy for me to differentiate between the two characters/films despite having not seen either of them. I cannot even begin to imagine how much time and effort it took to put this together, but I love the idea of it and would love to create similar (though much shorter) assignments for students because I think that they could really demonstrate their critical literacy skills through such a task and also, I think they would enjoy it. Full disclosure, I’ve probably watched about a dozen movies from start to finish in my life. I’ve just never had much interest in them, though my husband and kids will sit down and watch them. (I will sit down to watch sports or to read.)

Once I made it to the library (after having a solid 10 hours of thinking to do), I had some ideas on places to look for this task. My first stop, of course, Vivian Vasquez. I took two courses of hers in graduate school at American University and learned so much that I’ve been able to implement in my classroom — critical literacies atop the list. Vasquez introduced me to podcasts back in 2007 and in 2011, I created a class at my school’s summer program for podcasting, which worked out great for my many students with language-based disabilities. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I left the classroom shortly after to pursue other opportunities around curriculum development and that kind of put a stand-still on my tech development. I am eager to plan a lesson for the library classroom that uses Ted Talks, NPR, BBC, TeacherTube (which I’ve used before when I was part of the TrIO program at Chelsea High and Bunker Hill), and whatever other podcasts I stumble upon. I have 13 tabs open on my Internet browser currently of podcasts to investigate. I also think that I need to investigate YouTube more. Sure, I use it; but only to play music that isn’t on the radio (mostly British rock and 90s rap). I’ve always kind of written it off as an educational tool which is perhaps naive or possibly even, dare I say, foolish.

I think that this assignment is pushing me to rethink “MY” way of teaching and really see how far against boundaries I can take my practice. While I both recognize and acknowledge this as a good thing, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated by it; and when I think further about this — it’s kind of silly: Approximately one hundred years ago, when I was just a year out of college, I worked my way from coordinator to Digital Media Manager and later left that position to be THE marketing department at a start-up. I am starting to question where my insecurities around technology come from, because 15 years ago, I was really quite confident. I suppose this all comes back full circle where I pinpointed at the beginning of this post that acknowledged the lack of tech exposure as a classroom teacher. (Similar to setting an intention at the beginning of yoga, I’m going to set an intention from now until the end-or at least mid-semester to not let me get into my own head about technology being intimidating and just going for the gusto, as they say.)

Updates to come.

 

 

sept reflections, oct goals

Wow! September has flown by! Four-fifths of my household is back in school, myself included and my husband is the glue holding us all together. Lucky him! Personally, I am enjoying half of my classes so far; the other is okay. I am a little disappointed, to be honest: There’s a lot of theorist review, so it’s not particularly exciting but the worst part is that there is very little class engagement. It is a stark contrast to my other class where we are encouraged to try new things and the discussion boards are very active; even in the online platform, I can feel my classmates’ passion and interest in their collective work.

The whole program I am in is online, which is a really big adjustment to me. I’ve been going on campus to the library two nights a week and am treating both classes like an in-person class, so that I have those hours allotted during the week for work. I also try to get things done during 3’s “naps” and when I can take an hour or two to slip upstairs away from the chaos. I think that because I am so excited to be learning new things, it keeps me going and I don’t feel so bogged down with the work. I just hope when all is said and done, that this translates to employment in a library — sounds like such fun work!

13 is enjoying eighth grade and currently has straight As; she is anxiously (and not even the least bit patiently) waiting for the music teacher to announce this year’s musical. 11’s transition to middle school is going as expected; he’s having a more positive experience with peers but is greatly disorganized. We are watching from the sidelines to see how he handles things, which is easier said than done much of the time. 3 is also enjoying school; he’s going super part-time and he just loves his teacher. There are a lot of adjustments for him (big boy bed, front-facing car seat, school for everyone) and he’s having a hard time but I know that he will settle eventually.

My goals around school are to maintain my focus and schedule and in regards to the kids, to maintain my patience. 3 has some rough days and I try to remain calm as best I can. I give myself frequent breaks when needed and have been walking our boy, Bruttie, every chance I can so that I’m getting fresh air and some exercise. I also bought a Groupon for a new yoga studio; my in-laws got me a gift card for my birthday and I finally got around to using it. I am excited to give the next month a go at the new studio; hopefully, I can set down some roots at this studio and get back on my yoga grind. I am going to continue to try box jumps and tire flips. I’ve also been using the Expresso bikes at the gym and really like the workouts pre-programmed. I want to continue with that and also get back to challenging myself by doing a 5K a month — I liked doing the 5K a week in the spring and summer but I kind of doing what feels right each day and I want to continue with that trend.

Otherwise, my health goals are to just continue doing what I’m doing. I have been walking with our Bruttie Boy a lot. It’s good for us both. I have been drinking a lot of water and trying to eat foods that agree with my body and keep the ones that don’t to a minimum. I am just trusting my mind and body more; this is what I always used to do and then I’m not really sure what happened but I want to get back to a place where I can do that.

I also want to continue grocery shopping without a list. It’s easy enough to figure out what we can make based on what I buy and hit the store for a few more items that are needed, if even anything is needed. I am going to try to highlight a meal or two each week that we’ve made and maybe include recipes/pictures so that I can write posts specifically about the meals we enjoy.

Lastly, my final set of goals for October is to bring back Self-care Sunday (or Saturday) where I paint my nails and/or use a face mask. I work out and try to keep a clear mind, so when I think about self-care at home, I think of pampering.  Other things I’m looking forward to in October:
– Apple Picking
– Fall walks
– 3 turning 4
– Bruttie turning 10
– Family date day
– A fresh haircut
– Boots & booties and other fall-related fashion
– Hot toddy consumption: apple cider, lemon, cinnamon, and 1T of bourbon