Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Signs all Around! {SOLC} March 31, 2015 #sol15

I've been wanting to make a scrapbook page of all of the signs around our home that indicate that children live here. I think it's very important to record every day life,  just like we are with this SLICE challenge, and layouts about every day life are my most favorite complete.

Some signs of children in our home are more subtle than others but the signs are everywhere...

Lego Creations, 

Shoes of all sizes,

Cartoons on the TV,

Books on tables, chairs, counters and floors...

These pictures are just a sampling of the daily reminders that prove we are truly blessed that our home is filled with the love, energy and excitement that children bring to life!

Random Late Night Thoughts {SOLC} March 30, 2015 #sol15

The to do list was long after I put the kids to bed...all has been accomplished but later than I should be going to bed.  

I try to hold fast to my bedtime of 10 o'clock but it couldn't be helped tonight.  

Tomorrow is another busy day.  I will get up and do it all again beginning at 5:30 AM.  It will be a long but exciting day!

Looking forward to tomorrow's work...

4 more Days! {SOLC} March 29, 2015 #sol15

Spring Break starts on Friday...4 more work days!  I can do anything for 4 more days, right?!  

Here's what I am looking forward to for spring break:

Quiet house since the kids will be at school;
Day dates with my husband;
Not having to pack a lunch for 6 days;
Doing what I want when I want;
Engaging in my hobby of scrapbooking;  Spa Day for a massage and pedicure;
Staying up late;
Rejuvenating my soul!

4 more days...4 more days...I got this!!!

Deceivingly Blue! {SOLC} March 28, 2015 #sol15

Snow covered the yard this morning but 
the sky is deceivingly blue. 

There is a bitterly, chilly breeze blowing tree branches and dead leaves but the sky is deceivingly blue.

The temperature outside is only in the 20's but the sky is deceivingly blue.

We had to wear our heavy coats to the store today but the sky is deceivingly blue.

The sun is shining which usually signals warmth and the sky is deceivingly blue.


Collaborative Conversations! {SOLC} March 27, 2015 #sol15

Top Ten Reasons Why Collaborative Planning is BETTER than doing it alone!

10.  Increased capacity to problem solve situations.

9.  Increased capacity to determine solutions.

8.  Different perspectives brings diverse ideas.

7.  Teamwork to divide the work.

6.  Opportunity to dialogue about ideas and obtain feedback.

5.  Collective experience is more powerful than single experience.  

4.  New perspectives support seeing the same situation from a different perspective. 

3.  Backgrounds that are different bring new ideas.  

2.  Getting to know colleagues in a new way.

1.  Collaboration is energizing and exciting!

If you can't tell, my best work
Is done with others...I find group think exciting and energizing.  

Get Moving! {SOLC} March 26, 2015 #sol15

In this early morning, I can't stop thinking about exercise!  You see, I wake up early to do it and, even though I dread the alarm, I can't deny the impact it has on my mental and physical well-being!  

My exercise journey began back in high school. I used to go to Jazzercise with my mom when I was not in the sport season. Organized classes are still my favorite way to work out but not always possible now that I have a family and work full-time.  

For now, I use free online videos from fitness Here is my routine:
5:25 AM. Wake Up!
5:35 AM. Stumble into the living room with my iPhone ready to find today's work-out.
5:37 AM begin my morning workout
6:20 AM complete my morning workout

Now, it's no secret that I could stand to lose a lot of weight. Recently, my oldest son asked me if I work out because I want to lose weight. I thought about it for a second and realize the reason I think I work out is to feel healthy. I recently had a back injury that is made my work out routine very inconsistent in the past month. This week, I have finally gotten back to my every day workout routine. I feel amazing! My mood is improved I feel less stressed and less irritable.  While it was frustrating during the time my workout was inconsistent, I do think that having that time lapse did give me some perspective on how important my morning workout routine is. I frequently have to tell myself to just get moving because I know once I start I will feel awesome!

Every Child (and Student) is a Blessing! SOLC} March 25, 2015 #sol15

This photo was taken of my daughter this afternoon as she worked through an arts and crafts activity book.  I took this photo because I often find myself in awe of how different my three children are even though they all are from the same parents.  While it may also be a difference in the fact that she is a girl, there's no way that my boys would've ever sat down to do some of the things that she enjoys at her age.

Having these experiences also reminds me of how I've always viewed my students as individuals with unique characteristics.  Take any classroom today and it's going to be filled with students who have a diverse interests, learning needs and talents.  One of my deepest passions is considering learners first rather when providing learning opportunities for students rather than a one-size-fits-all model.  In fact, it is unrealistic to think "one size" instruction would fit all or even most!

Just as I am awe of what makes each of my children so different, I am greatly encouraged by what each learner brings to the classroom.  We have the best job in the world as educators!

Special Guest! {SOLC} March 24, 2015 #sol15

It is rare that my mom gets to visit us mid-week but tonight we got to spend the entire evening with her.  My parents live about two hours away from us where I grew up and, although, we see each other regularly, a weekday visit is a real treat!  Life is different during the week and we have different rituals and routines than on the weekends.  

Mom got to have dinner with us, play a game with the kids, listen to my middle son read and we went out for frozen yogurt.  While these moments may seem like simple things we do everyday, it is those everyday moments that often mean the most!  I loved having her here to spend time with us and I know she enjoyed being part of our day, evening and week.  

If you have family that lives close, don't take it for granted.  While my parents don't live too far away, it's still not driveable for a weekday trip.  Today, I am thankful for the memories we made and for my mom!

Present over Perfect!{SOLC} March 23, 2015 #sol15

"Present over Perfect"...this mantra plays frequently in my mind.  I strive daily and sometimes hourly to achieve this balance.

Perfectionism has always been a weakness of mine and has caused me to struggle internally through the years. At times,  it also has caused me to externalize my feelings in unproductive ways towards others through the years, as well.  I knew this was always a problem for me, but it has become increasingly apparent since I have had children and have witnessed them interact with the world.  There's nothing like seeing your worst trait manifested in a child, and in my case, my oldest son.

Granted, I am much better than I used to be but I still have my moments, depending on the day, where I struggle.  I am trying to be supportive to my son, knowing how not helpful some of things my parents used to say to me were and, yet, still holding him accountable and helping him navigate the world.  

Being "Present over Perfect" feels particularly important in my life right now as I balance working fulltime with motherhood and everything else that comes along with life. I just have to be patient with myself and remember that I am a work in progress, which is sometimes easier written than put into action.  

Having a Daughter! {SOLC} March 22, 2015 #sol15

Today, my youngest child and only daughter turns 5!  Before Olivia was born, I was totally a boy mom!  In fact, when we decided to find out the sex of our third child before she was born, I was very skeptical when we found out we were having a girl!  I wasn't sure if I could be the best mom to a little girl because I already had the boy stuff figured out!  

Having a little girl was has been a tremendous blessing!  She completed our family of five!  I never realized how important it was not to be the only person in the house with a different perspective.  I also never realized how crazy it is to have someone else who is so much like me in the world.  

Olivia and I have so much fun together!  We enjoy spending time together: shopping, baking, scrapbooking, crafting and talking!  Olivia really is just like me in so many ways but her person as well.  While I love everything about being the mom of two amazing boys, having a daughter is very special too!  

Happy Birthday, Olivia Louisa!  Today, we celebrate the spunky, sassy princess that you are and all the joy you bring to our lives!  

The Ants go Marching one by one...only in Storybooks!{SOLC} March 21, 2015 #sol15

Ants marching one by one is something that only happens in the story books! I know, because I found hundreds of clusters of ants in my pantry this morning and the first word out of my mouth was not "Hurrah"!  My son first discovered a few ants on the floor and as we were trying to clean them up, I realized that they were in and crawling all over the beautiful handmade treat bags that my daughter and I made this past week for her birthday party today!

Immediately I went into panic mode! I was frantically calling to the kids to help me get everything moved so we can get the ants out!  I was cursing the fact that I haven't yet called extermination company to come do an annual spring spray to prevent pests in the house.  I was disgusted by the fact that these little black pests had invaded any part of our home without permission. I was saddened by the fact that the hand stamped treat bags my daughter and I had made would all have to be thrown away along with the candy inside of them.  

I was thankful for the fact that the handmade treats that we were going to put inside the bags had not been made until this morning so they were safe from the invasion.  I was also thankful for the fact that we made the discovery so early this morning rather than right before we left for the party this afternoon.

I realize in the grand scheme of life, and in treat bags is really not that big of a deal; however, cleaning up after a home invasion of little tiny black pests was not on my "to do" list this morning!  My daughter will still have a wonderful birthday party and great time with her little friends!  Thankfully my husband is out buying more treats and treat bags as I write!  

I am guessing that the author who wrote that ants march one by one must have never found a while colony in his daughter's birthday treat bags!  Guess what else is added to my "to do" list for Monday...calling pest control for that spring spraying!  

Good Friends Make Life Better! {SOLC} March 20, 2015 #sol15

Having good friends is one of the best experiences in life. The quantity of friends does not matter as much as the quality of friends, in my opinion.  Having a few good friends that you can share your life with and trust with your soul, is such a good feeling.

Good friends are better than therapy; 
Good friends are good for the soul;
Good friends pick you up when things are going wrong;
Good friends help make a cloudy day brighter;
Good friends enhance life and make the journey worthwhile;
Good friends are hard to find and need to be cherished; 
Today I am thankful for my good friends!  

Vacation Planning {SOLC} March 19, 2015 #sol15

At this time of year, we always begin to discuss vacation planning.  Our favorite vacation, by far, is visiting the beach.  This year we want to combine visiting family in DC with our beach trip.  We also always plan a trip to North Carolina to visit my dearest college friend and her family.  

I love so many things about summer but vacationing is definitely one of the best parts!  Getting away is renewing to the soul; particularly visiting the beach!

So for now, I sit and dream about warmer, carefree days knowing they will come but not always soon enough.

Excited about Student Learning {SOLC} March 18, 2015 #sol15

Today I have had the privilege to visit three buildings in my school district and see the awesome learning that students are doing.  The things that excited me most:  

Students reflecting in their own learning;
Data conversations with students;
Differentiated supports for students who need additional supports to access the curriculum;
Breaking down the barriers of access for students; 
Students using accountable talks to discuss class work;
Teachers co-teaching by both leading small groups in the same classroom;
Students able to share about their learning; 
Students excited about their learning and engaged in their learning!  

Today was a great day!!!

My Best Work!{SOLC} March 17, 2015 #sol15

It is so interesting to me that I "apparently" do some of my best planning and thinking when I am fast asleep.  So many mornings I wake up and I have ideas or I have solved problems that I was turning over and over in my head the previous day.  When I wake, I will grab my phone or my iPad and jot down notes to be able recall this information when I need it and am ready to use it.  

I am thankful that my thoughts don't keep me awake at night, because I know lots of people aren't so fortunate.  I am thankful that some of this good "thinking" work happens without me even realizing it.  Some of my best work comes out of these nightly problem solving sessions.

Right Now! {SOLC} March 16, 2015 #sol15

Right now...

I am waiting which happens often in our lives...waiting is a part of most days.

I am writing...thinking about what words I will use to convey and capture this particular moment in time.

I am thinking...about my day, how to coordinate everything that needs done, not forget anything and playing the day over and over in my head.

I am feeling is going to be over 60 degrees in Ohio today; who wouldn't be excited!

I am I type on my phone as I write.

I am people conduct business...children speak with their parents...Finding Nemo playing in the TV on the wall.

I am I begin my pay attention to what is around me and inside my head...trying to be the moment...recognizing what's around me.

Take time to Explore! {SOLC} March 15, 2015 #sol15

This weekend we explored a new area of Ohio that we hadn't before that isn't too far from our home.  It made me think about the fact that sometimes we think we have to go far away to really get away.  However, how many of us take the time to stop and look around at what is really around us...those hidden treasures and exciting places right in our community or close to home.  

Despite how much the winter season can drag on in Ohio, how often movies and TV poke fun at Ohio and how much we all sometimes long to live somewhere else, our great state has much to offer if we just look around.  I am always in awe of new places I visit close to home that have great beauty and offer one of a kind experiences.

So, with all this being said, I encourage you to experience your community or a surrounding community in a way you haven't before!  Discover those hidden gems and exciting experiences that are waiting for you!  You, like me, may just be surprised about what you find.  Happy Exploring!!!

Often the journey is just as important (or more important) than the destination!

Weekend Getaway! {SOLC} March 14, 2015 #sol15

Life gets so hectic and busy that sometimes it is nice to stop and getaway from the fast pace sometimes.  Thankfully my husband feels the same way and we appreciate being able to getaway together.  Both of us working full time and raising three young children is hard on our relationship sometimes.  We don't always get the opportunity to spend much time together and our conversations can center on the logistics of making our family run.

This weekend was our chance to have an overnight away thanks to my parents and I am grateful for the time to step away, relax and rejuvenate.  We both love visiting places we have never been before and just enjoying conversation beyond who is picking up which child from which activity.  Today I'm thankful for weekend getaways!

Thankful for the Weekend! {SOLC} March 13, 2015 #sol15

I am thankful today, as on other Friday's, to have the weekend to sleep in, relax and enjoy!  Life is always easier on the weekends!  We don't usually have crazy timelines to meet or places to be.  We can hang out together as a family and enjoy each other's company.  

I appreciate the opportunity for life to move more slowly and for us to have time to just be a family.  Thankful for the weekends...thankful for the weekend!

My Solitude {SOLC} March 12, 2015 #sol15

Every morning I take the time to enjoy the quiet, solitude of my home.  I wake early (which I hate until I am out of bed) to spend some time with myself.  It is not much time but it affords me the opportunity to be "alone" in my quiet home.

The kids are still sleeping; my husband is still sleeping.  I take this time...

To exercise
To plan out my day
To collect the thoughts I had while I was sleeping
To be alone with my thoughts
To enjoy the solitude and quiet

This time is important to makes me a better mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister, person.

Words...They Inspire Me! {SOLC} March 10, 2015 #sol15

I am a huge fan of words...particularly of 
those words 

which inspire;
which remind us to keep going;
which tell someone they are appreciated;
which let someone know they are loved;
which evoke emotions of happiness;
which urge us to accomplish great things;
which push us further;
which gather our hopes and dreams together;
which insist that we fight for what is right;
which imply we are exceptional just the way we are;

But mostly, I am a huge fan of words!

One of my Favorite Things! {SOLC} March 11, 2015 #sol15

           My Lenny & Eva Obsession

In the spirit of yesterday's post and my obsession with words, I have to share one of my favorite things...Lenny & Eva Bracelets!  While I love trends and dressing in my own style, I am not necessarily into particular brands of clothing or accessories.  

However, because of my love of words, this past summer when I was in North Carolina, I found line of jewelry called Lenny and Eva.  Here's why I love these bracelets:

wearing my favorite sentiments for everyone to see;  

my best friend and I found the jewelry together and both love it; 

it allows me to mix and match styles and colors depending on my mood and outfit; 

I was able to create a customized sentiment that is all my own; 

it exudes positivity and strength;  

the company is named after the founder's two grandmothers;

it is beautiful;  

it is meaningful to me;

it is special to share as gifts;

Being able to share and spread positivity to others is important to me...I can't help but share my Lenny & Eva obsession!

My Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day...But, I am still Smiling! {SOLC} March 9, 2015 #sol15

Today was one of those days...

Woke up late because the alarm was set incorrectly;

Left home 20 minutes later than normal because we were all slow moving with the time change;

Arrived at work 15 minutes late due to traffic;

Forgot the files I needed for my afternoon meetings on my desk;

Knocked off the Internet over and over during my meeting in the middle of editing work;

Sat in last meeting beyond time limit and now have to reschedule for next week;

Missed returning ten carnival games that are clunking and thumping around in the back of my van due to the late meeting so I will be driving to work with them
In my car again tomorrow;

Arrived too late to pick-up daughter so she missed dance class due to late meeting;

Made dinner only to have my family complain that they did not like it.

Yes; it was one of those days!  But at the end of all of it, I am still smiling!  Because, even after all the craziness that today brought, I am still incredibly blessed and I never want to forget that!  

My Lego Builder {SOLC} March 8, 2015 #sol15

Liam is my Lego builder.  Even though we have many sets of Legos, when he got the Lego Minecraft set, it is a little different.  Since he has gotten the Minecraft Legos, he loves to create and recreate with this one set. After he makes a new creation, he gives it a name, asks me to take a picture and asks me to post it on the Lego FB page.

He builds so many cool creations and I love that he has a special story to share about each one.  He is one cool kid!

Today we experienced another first...{SOLC} March 7, 2015 #sol15

It seems like every day my children are growing up so quickly. Today I had one of those moments where I looked at my oldest son and couldn't believe he was sitting next to me in the front seat of my van. 

For his entire life I have driven him around in the backseat, but because my van was loaded with items that need to be moved, there really wasn't anywhere else for him to sit. It was the strangest feeling to have him next to me in the van versus all the way in the back. It's just another little sign to me that says he is growing up way too fast! It was so fun to have him experience a ride in the van from a new perspective. He was commenting about how roomie it was and that the view is completely different from the front seat.   

So, I may have a new companion in the front seat. It won't be too long that I'll have all three kids fighting for that position in the van and eventually, they'll all be behind the driver seat. For now I'm going to be thankful that I only have one who is actually allowed to sit in the front and I will cherish the time and conversations that that new position might bring with my son.

A Special Message {SOLC} March 6, 2015 #sol15

As an educator, I know how important it is to share positive stories and information with parents about their children. Today, I was on the receiving end of a special message that my son's teacher sent to me today.  My son's teacher was so excited about something he had accomplished that she couldn't wait to share it with me.  

To get a special message like this makes a parent's day.  I am so grateful that my son has a teacher that cares so much about him as a learner and personally celebrates his successes!  Please let this serve as a reminder to not only celebrate your students' successes but to along share it with their family!  Just like in my case, you might make someone's day!

Thinking about the last time...{SOLC} March 5, 2015 #sol15

I once read an article by a mother who spoke about recalling the firsts of her children's lives contrasted to all of the "last time" things happen in our lives. Tonight was one of those last time moments for me. You see, my youngest and my only daughter, will be starting kindergarten next school year. Tonight, I had to take her to kindergarten registration. It was the last time I will attend this event for one of my children. I know when she begins formal school, there will be lots of last moments for our family.

I can't believe that I will be sending my youngest child to school next year.  Even though she's been attending preschool,  Kindergarten is still a big milestone in her life and mine.  When we officially have all school-aged children, it will be a new chapter for our family! She was so excited tonight, which made me both happy for her and sad for me.  Regardless of how I feel, time will keep marching on...
Right now, I am going to celebrate the last time, even though, it makes me a little sad too!

STUCK!!! {SOLC} March 4, 2015 #sol15


So, this is happening right now in my driveway!  Our wonderful winter has dealt another low blow...with the ice and snow, my tires just continue to spin!  I'm now a half hour later than I should be this morning!  The kids are being so patient!  I am being patient when I really want to scream!  My husband is being patient while he tries everything we can think of to get the van unstuck!  

Have I mentioned that I struggle with unexpected circumstances in my day?!  We've tried salt...we've tried sand...we've tried rocks!  Still stuck and all I want is to be unstuck! Unstuck....unstuck...unstuck!