In the Beginning

In the Beginning

Back 18 years ago, a new school year was met with enthusiasm. New year met new ideas, fresh faces, and fun ideas to share. Then the lull sets in, the 10 year slump. Partly due to a growing family at home, partly fueled by a loss of teacher respect from multi levels, I hit a wall. Rolling into the brrr months I’d find my groove again and sail briskly to the end. I could mark another successful year in the books. But the passion was subdued.

And then there is now. I feel like a fresh, hot off the presses student teacher! Ideas running through my head faster than an ant on blacktop in 100 degree heat. My colleague and I run back and forth to the others room saying “have you done this”, “how does this sound” or mostly “look at what my class did today”!! I burn through planning and lunch creating, adapting, and laying the foundation for the next aha moment. Outside the classroom I’m constantly learning from my PLN, Professional Learning Community, and helping to gather a local community of learners to discuss all things education.

And the students are riding my wave. Digging the changes. Following my “it’s okay to explore and question” path. The accomplishments in 2 weeks by all have left a grin so wide, I can’t help spreading the news of what’s happening in room 629.

I’m a new teacher. A fresh from college, the college of new ideas, teacher. And it’s exciting.


IMG_7282.JPGI’m as excited as this kid each morning!!


IMG_6316.JPGI love reconnecting with former students and hearing about how much they appreciated our time together!

A New Year and Changes

A New Year and Changes

Recently I learned a new to me term in Education, Pastoral Care.



My goal this year is to focus on the well being of each student. Are they safe each night? Hungry? Did he get enough sleep? Does she have the medical help she needs? What are his interests? Who are her friends? And most importantly, what can I do to help?!

Students who feel valued and respected at school will perform better and are more likely to buy into what the school is doing. The last few weeks I worked around my room trying for a less “in your face” education feel and a more “safe” place. Floor lamps, pictures, and group seating are a few examples. I want students to know that mistakes are okay, we will all learn from each other, learning happens all around us, and that we can trust each other. Mostly, that I care. Nurture their minds through nurturing their well being.

It’s easy to get bogged down by content expectations, mandated curriculum, and state testing that we lose focus on the individuals. The being behind the name and face. My mottos for this year:
I hope for the same caring, nurturing learning spaces for these three.



If you do not know what B2S is, either you are not a teacher or not in the advertisement field. Clues: start seeing ads in early July, Meijers and Walmart crowd entrances with bus looking cardboard displays, your teacher friends begin to lament the end of summer, children begin to count days left, the Today Show has a B2S trendy fashion show, facebook friends in education begin posting statuses of cramming “end of summer” mini vacations and outings, get the picture yet?

Yes, back to school time is here. But back is not the correct term for my teacher friends. “Back” only refers to the location, because they have been schooling all summer. Workshops, conferences, continuing Ed classes, revamping lessons, PLCs, educational readings, or learning new classroom technology.

Since the hubs and I are both educators, a fair chunk of our friends are also in the Ed field. Most conversations turn from summer vacation replays to upcoming school news and are laced with educational jargon. IEPs, PLCs, 1 to 1, 504s, exit slips, AYP, ACT, DI, NCA, and those are just the ones fresh in my mind.

Though teachers may not be physically at school, their education does not end at summer break. Just ask our children.IMG_6930.JPG

That Special Place


Do you have a special place? One that recalls fond memories, calms fears or hurts, and warms the heart. A place that is so a part of you that you know each bump, crack, or subtle changes each visit. Some location to long to share with your children.

Many have a camp experience that stays a part of life for years to come. Perhaps it was the people. Or maybe the surroundings. Maybe even neither of those, but more the feelings felt while there.

I have that place. Pentwater. More specifically, United Methodist Church Camp or Lake Michigan Camp as it’s now called. Over 33 years of attending this hidden gem on the shores of the Great Lake. Surrounded by pines and tucked between sandy dunes lies a camp that has been a part of our family’s hearts for years.

When M was 3 months old and still sporting preemie clothes, we rented a pop up for his first camping expedition.IMG_6156.JPG
We missed Pentwater the year one month old R was hospitalized with Pneumonia. Our kids play with cousins or kids they see just this one time of year. Dune rides by Mac Woods, go carts at Craig’s Cruisers, Little Sable Lighthouse, horseback riding at Rainbow Ranch, and the great blue water expanse and beach are regular stops.




This year, we almost didn’t go. For me, the familiar, safe haven has lost its magical charm. The calm and peace are gone. The warmth and love for the hills has faded. I repeatedly told myself I could go a year without. A break of sorts. Then I found this.

A sand footprint craft from 1989. Still with me. Memories flooded in. Emotions engulfed me. Pentwater was still in my heart. I wanted my children to have that same peaceful place. Memories to build upon. If perhaps less for me and more for them to make. I counted my summers by the annual voyage north and now my children do too.


And so it begins

And so it begins

I am competitive. Losing is despicable. Maybe growing up with three older brothers left me scarred into always feeling weaker and less able. With my children, sometimes I win, sometimes I lose, and I’m okay with that. We are teaching our children the agony of defeat is okay to learn as well as triumph in a victory.

Now let’s talk preschool. In our small town, there are few choices. We applied at two and was accepted by one. Through facebook I see friends trying to sift through a dozen options. Mandarin? Spanish? Nature play? Gifted? The application and interview process for these can be multi-tiered! To this small town gal, that is incomprehensible. For college, elite sports teams, or advanced programs, yes.

But preschool? Where am I going with this? Recently a parent questioned the placement of our child with his child. Are my son’s second language skills as developed? Nope. Does he comprehend the Latvian language? Minimally. So perhaps you are right, he is not on the same skill level as your child. But he’s a sponge. They all are! Don’t discount his current lack of language. Remember the old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover? Well don’t judge his language base until you dive into the language.

We want our kids to have a well rounded kid’s life. The ability to run in a creek, play 4 square, catch frogs, camp, build a fire, visit special places, and most importantly learn about themselves. What is it that makes each special? Perhaps we spend extra time living a kid’s life, growing a future, and need to weave in additional language time. We’ve attempted to create a happy balance between school, sports, Latvian heritage, activities, and community involvement. But honestly it’s a work in progress.

Don’t start getting all competitive and selective, the kid is 4 and learning daily. And to the father who told me that his kid is way smarter than mine and cannot imagine they will be in the same grade upon entering school, again they are 4! Let’s save the competitive, my kid is better than your kid crap for later, much later. Let them be kids. IMG_5842.JPG



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Blog Time

Blog Time

With kids now at a more independent age, I assumed that the summer would entail additional blogging time. Silly me.

Older children means we are on the go more often. Play dates, sports lessons, and sport events. Let alone just the ability to just drop everything and go, which we have done a lot this year. It is amazing how fast everyone can get dressed and out of the house when a picnic and fun are on the by-the-seat-of-my-pants days events.

Throw into the mix a new puppy and a newly created school #chataps, minutes to hours later…

Today we spent the gorgeous sunny day folding laundry from a week long trip just to repack it to leave less than 30 hours later for another destination. I caught a few minutes of peace when E, the new puppy, and I flopped into the tree hammock for an afternoon siesta. Oops! There went valuable blog time!

Maybe tomorrow? No, we are leaving for a short get-away. Monday? No the #chataps questions need to be rewritten and moderated. Tuesday? Yes, maybe Tuesday.

Until then, stay patient, this parenting gig is busy. Don’t worry though my topic list is long. Then again so is my summer bucket list. sigh…