Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Starting with my own experiences with bullying (being bullied particularly) and moving into my decision to become a teacher, it is always something I have felt strongly about.  When I decided to teach middle school I knew I would be dealing with some bullying issues as this is a really hard time in student's lives.  They are gaining some independence, they have more free time since they change classes, and have less supervision at lunch.  They are also at a time in life when they are beginning to notice differences between themselves and others.  For some reason this is when girls begin bullying the most.  Boys tend to take longer to start that and I think it has more to do with testosterone and gender roles than girls.  Girls will bully people who are different in the way they talk, dress, look, etc, etc, etc.  I have always wondered why girls do that, but my own theory is that girls have more fear for those who are different, especially at a time in their own lives when they are insecure themselves.

In the school where I teach, I have noticed an interesting break from "tradition."  No, it's not that we don't have bullying at all.  That would be a miracle.  It's that instead of the "minority" or "outsider" groups being bullied, those are the groups that are bullying others.

I learned last week about a student that is being bullied so horribly that she is afraid to come to school.  She is afraid that she will continue to be bullied and that the bullies will retaliate now that she reported them.  At this stage of life I have noticed that lots of students don't want to report bullying for fear of retaliation.  The bullies, though, are not told who reported them.  In fact, I heard the group talking in the hall yesterday about who they thought it was and none of them could figure it out.

It is probably good that I am writing this post a few days after-the-fact because I was a lot more emotional on Friday when I learned about what was going on.  In fact, I started crying when the student's father told me.  I have a habit of trying not to cry in public, but I couldn't help it.  It brought up a lot of emotions in me that I didn't expect to feel again.  Starting in 8th grade I was bullied by a group of girls.  I still have no idea why they bullied me, but it didn't matter.  They tried many times to make me feel like less of a human.  I was very lucky in that there were other students who stood up for me and helped keep things from getting really bad.  It didn't change how I began to feel about myself, though.  I can trace many not so great decisions back to the feelings of inadequacy that began during that period of my life.  It has taken years to realize that none of those feelings are valid, and that none of them define who I truly am.  That was a time in my own life when I became more of an introvert.  I have always been a bit introverted naturally, but that made it worse.  Getting away and moving to another state for college where no one knew me or my past helped a lot.  I was able to begin feeling like I was worth something again.  I also had a good group of friends to surround myself with.  Yet those feelings come back up whenever I see someone else going through what I went through.

The emotion, though, that I did not in any way expect was a feeling of protectiveness.  What my family calls "mama bear syndrome."  All I wanted to do was protect this student from the horrible experience she was having.  It had apparently gotten so bad that this student's parents were thinking about pulling her out and homeschooling her.  Luckily, we have a wonderful principal who does not tolerate bullying and ensured that the appropriate punishment was given to the bullies.  I was and am just so upset for this student that I can't even seem to get my thoughts straight.  This student is kind, beautiful, thoughtful, and a truly incredible person all-around.  The fact that someone else would try to bring her down and make her feel like less of a human astounds me.  Maybe it's because of my own experiences that I have absolutely zero tolerance for that kind of behavior.  If I ever see it happening in my classroom my students see a side of me they never want to see again.

In the past I have had the opportunity to teach about the Civil Rights Movement of the 50s and 60s and I use Martin Luther King Jr;s "I Have a Dream" speech to talk about the way we treat other people.  I use that speech as a way to show students that while we have come very far, we have a long way to go to achieve that dream.  To achieve the dream of viewing another person as human no matter what they look like.  Of not seeing people as good or bad, but simply as people who make choices.  There are people who make bad and horrible choices.  Those people are responsible for the consequences of their choices.  I do understand that there are exceptions to every rule, but I feel like so many people are trying to be the exception instead of the rule.  I have watched this group of bullies in our school play the victim so many times that it makes me sick.  They instigate and instigate and then act like they did nothing wrong.  It's bad that I can no longer have any sympathy for them or trust them in any way, but it's the way it is.  There is an amazing Broadway musical called Aida.  In one scene Aida, who is a Nubian princess who has been captured and turned into an Egyptian slave, is talking to an Egyptian soldier who is engaged to the Egyptian princess.  The soldier is complaining that his life is so difficult and he is trapped.  Aida turns to him and says "You are your own master.  There are no shackles on you.  If you don't like your fate, change it!"  I have come to a point in my own life where I feel that this should be a life motto in some ways.  There are many things I don't like or want to complain about, but why should I complain if I am not willing to change it.  I am my own master.  This is a lesson I try to teach to those students who are always blaming someone or something else for why they didn't follow a rule or didn't get something done.  I know they are at a difficult age where those types of ideas and lessons are almost like speaking another language, but I don't think it is too early to learn them.

In the LDS the Young Women's Program (for girls ages 12-18) strives to teach a set of values.  They include Faith, Divine Nature, Individual Worth, Good Works, Choice and Accountability, and Integrity.  While I feel that all of them are very important, I wish that more emphasis was put on choice and accountability.  I feel like it's the red-headed step child of the group (PS. I love red heads!)  I feel that if more people took responsibility for their own choices there would be fewer problems in the world.  But maybe that's the kicker.  People don't want to be responsible for themselves.  If they are, that means they have to accept their own mistakes and fix them.  That can be really difficult.  I'm not even perfect at that, but I am trying.  I hear a lot of stories about people who just got "caught up in the wrong crowd," or "are really a good person," and I recognize that those things happen, but I don't think that means that they don't deserve a punishment for doing something wrong.  Sometimes they need a harsher punishment to realize how far they "fell" and get back on their feet.  Perhaps I am just rambling and idealistic, but I don't like to see other people treated poorly or able to get away with treating someone else horribly.  I know that many people weren't taught the type of behavior in which others are treated with kindness and respect, but it is just really hard for me to see.  I want to do more about it, but don't know what I have the power to do.  So many times the bullies don't respond to any type of punishment, but.... I don't know.  I wish that I had the means to provide more psychological assistance to both the victims and perpetrators of bullying as bullies tend to have their own issues they need to work through, but I don't.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Loss, Renewal, and Moving Forward

2015 was quite a year.  It began like any other year, but ended unlike any year we have ever experienced.  After our nephew was born things were progressing like any other year.  We were closing in on the end of Jeremy's penultimate semester. **side note:  I only know the word penultimate became my family read "A Series of Unfortunate Events" together and it was in the title of the second to last book.**  In August we had gotten an email through our Adoption.com profile from a man in Washington who was considering placing his almost 1-year old boy.  The mother had passed away and there were some complications in his life that made it difficult for him to be the father he wanted to be.  Unfortunately he stopped contacting us before any plans could be made.  We picked ourselves up and kept on trucking.

Then November rolled around and we got another email from a young woman here in Utah.  She was looking to place her son that she would be having around December 21.  We met with her and spent three hours at dinner just talking and laughing.  We agreed that we wanted to move forward and began to make plans.  We met with an attorney and got all of the initial paperwork filled out.  Our hopeful birthmother was great about communicating back with the information we needed.  As we got closer to the actual birth (which was to happen somewhat earlier than expected) communication became more difficult.  She had never really answered her phone so we communicated mostly through text.  Sometimes it would be an entire day before we would receive a text back, but we knew that she was very busy working.  About a week before the date she was to be induced we stopped hearing back from her at all.  I still scheduled maternity leave just in case, but we ended up not hearing from her again.  We found out through Facebook (gotta love social media) that she had the baby.  He was healthy and doing well.  We still don't know if she decided to parent or had chosen another couple, but I have never felt like it was right to ask her.  I didn't take the full maternity leave, but I did end up taking a week off.  It was the week right before Christmas break began and I am glad I did take it.  It helped me to take the time to grieve.  I didn't expect to grieve or mourn or to feel the incredible amount of loss that I did feel.  I don't want to downplay what women go through with a miscarriage, but I think I better understand the emotional journey the go through.  It's like there is something hopeful there, something not quite tangible and yet tied to your heart nonetheless, and then it's gone.  Without explanation.  Luckily I have an amazing principal who understood and didn't require me to come back earlier than the end of Christmas break.  I also work with an amazing staff who sent me a Poinsettia and a beautiful card that helped lift my spirits.  After that first week, I also got to spend almost two weeks with my little brother, his wife, and their adorable little boy.  They were kind enough to let me snuggle him to my heart's content.  My family is also the kind that uses humor to get through difficult situations and there was so much laughter it made it impossible to feel sorry for myself.  Plus, I have a hard time feeling sorry for myself anyway.  I am an eternal optimist and instead of wallowing in self-pity for a long time (because I did wallow for some time), I picked myself up and moved on.  We also had a great opportunity that helped us move on.

A week after we found out that the baby had been born, we got a call from an agency that we had considered working with, but hadn't finished applying for because the previous opportunity had presented itself.  We decided to give the agency a try and were matched that same day with a young woman in Georgia.  She was due at the end of February.  We quickly made payments to agency and got set up with an attorney in the area.  We called her and her mom weekly just to check in.  Everything seemed to be going well.  Then we got a text that the baby had come early, was healthy, and had come home with the mother.  We asked if they were still planning to place and we told that they thought so.  We tried calling the next day to determine if we needed to head out to Georgia, but never got through.  We tried calling and texting, but heard nothing again.  It was very hard to go through that again.  Especially since, this time, I didn't want to take any additional time off.  I have plenty of sick and personal days, but really want to save them for when we do get a child.  That was a very difficult week and I feel bad for my students because I know that they could sense it.  It gave me a bad feeling for how February was going to go.  Normally I really dislike January and February anyway because where we live it is cold, snowy, and we don't see the sun for weeks at at time due to inversion.  It also makes my allergies go nuts because all the "crap" in the air is trapped low so that I am breathing it in.  Miraculously, though, January was over and February is almost there.

March always seems like such a change from the first 2 months of the year.  It isn't necessarily warm, but we get out of consistent freezing temperatures and only have sporadic days of some snow that melts quickly.  You can finally get outside during the day and feel the sun on your face.  Plus, as a teacher, it means Spring Break is around the corner and the end of school and summer break is near!  So there are definitely good things to look forward to.  As I stated earlier, I am an eternal optimist.  Sometimes it drives Jeremy nuts because he is.... well... a pessimist in my mind and a realist in his.  He says that he hopes for the best, but plans for the worst.  That can seem harsh, but it balances out my optimism when we need to look at pros and cons of situations.  I also got some great news just before our first failed placement.  I found out that I will be teaching at a new high school opening up for the 2016-2017 school year.  They aren't even finished building it so it is truly brand new!  They should have it done, or done enough to move in by the end of this school year.  I still don't know what I'm teaching, but I know it will be a new and exciting adventure!  I am hoping to find out soon so that I can start preparing and getting ideas that will help occupy my mind.  I really hate being bored or having nothing to focus on.  Jeremy would say it's that I don't like having something to obsess over, but either way the idea is the same.

I thought it would be a lot harder to write this post because there are a lot of emotions involved in the last few months, but it was easier than expected.  The one aspect of this whole situation that I am really grateful for is that I don't feel animosity or anger toward either of the mothers in our failed placements.  We have all been granted the gift of agency and we get to make our own choices.  They will always affect others, but that doesn't mean that I get to be angry or upset that someone else made a choice I didn't like or that hurt me.  I also feel like there is something even more right for us out there.  We have grown through this process.  Not only in knowing what to say and do, but as a couple.  I am so glad that we made sure to support each other through the whole process instead of letting it drive us apart.  Hopefully we can continue that with any new stresses that might happen with Jeremy graduating in May!

After a couple of weeks we decided that it was important for us to just move on with our lives and start "living" again.  We started focusing on other things that we had been neglecting.  Jeremy got back to focusing on school and looking for electrical engineering jobs for after graduation and I got back to focusing on improving my teaching and other small "stuff" that I needed to get done, but had been neglecting.  It has felt really good to get back to life.  We also decided to stop postponing a trip we wanted to take as a graduation/anniversary celebration.  So we booked our trip and are looking forward to a few days sitting on beach doing nothing and worrying about nothing.  I made sure to book a hotel that didn't offer WiFi so that we could completely disconnect.  Now I just have to work on losing these extra pounds I have put on to get by swimsuit body ready!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

New life!

 Fall Break was definitely an exciting time in our home.  I had to take a big test for my teaching license re-certification on Thursday morning.  I had been dreading it for over a month.  It was one of those tests where they test all of this random knowledge of theory with only a few questions on practical application, but it is required so I took it!  I studied and studied Wednesday night (the 14th), and felt like I had a good grasp on the concepts.  Well, I got up Thursday morning - later than usual since it was Fall Break and I didn't have to teach that day - and got ready.  Just as I was about to leave the house, I got a text that my sister-in-law was on her way to the hospital because her water had broken.  They were only two hours away so I knew I had time.  I went up to campus and took my test.  Somehow I was able to focus on the test and not the fact that my new nephew would be born soon (IT WAS A MIRACLE!!)

Once I finished my test I went home, vacuumed my house (it was in dire need of a good vacuuming) and packed a bag.  Then I headed down to the hospital with my parents.  Since we didn't know how long it would be or when we would be back, Jeremy didn't go with us - he couldn't miss work the next day.  We got to the hospital pretty quickly despite rush hour traffic, multiple accidents, and large spots of construction.  When we got there, we didn't get to go in immediately as she was getting her epidural (which ended up being a really good decision).  After about 45 minutes or so we got to go back and visit with her.  We got there around 2pm and just hung out talking, laughing, making fun of each other (with the exception of my sister-in-law Kaitlynn.  No one was making fun of her).  A few hours went by, then a few more.  We ate some dinner and let her rest for a while.  Then we continued to wait.  I always knew that labor was a long process, but I didn't realize just how long and..... laborious (groan.. I know).

As is custom, the nurses kept coming in to check on Kaitlynn's progress, which was slow.  They kept turning the Petocin on and off, but noticed that the baby's heart rate would drop when she was on it in larger doses.  But if she was off the Petocin she wasn't progressing as they would like.  In addition, the baby was head-down, but face up.  Normally the baby is face down and that keeps them from getting bruised as badly.  Around 11pm they called the doctor in and decided that the best choice was to do a C-section.  We went and waited in the lobby (it was my parents, myself, and Kaitlynn's family).  We waited anxiously, all quite nervous.  My mom watched a video on C-sections and was in the middle of telling us about them when we heard what might possibly be the most beautiful sound in the entire world - the sound of a baby's first cries.  We all knew that those were the cries we had been waiting for and we all started crying, too.  The receptionist at the counter told us we could go wait by the doors they will come out of for when the baby was brought out to be taken to the nursery for testing.  After what seemed like FOR-E-VER, but was probably only about 10 minutes, my brother, Isaac, came out with their new son, Aiden.  He told us that they had made the right decision because as soon as the doctor saw the baby he informed them that the cord was wrapped around his neck.  They got him out, though, and he was as healthy as could be.  He was 20.5 inches and 8 pounds, 10 ounces.  Even though he was a fairly big baby, he was as sweet as could be.  He barely cried while they were doing the tests (even when he got shots and blood drawn).  It was amazing, though.  Every time he would start to cry, Isaac would reach out and take his hand, and Aiden stopped crying almost immediately.

After the testing was done, we went back up to the room, held him, and then left so that Kaitlynn, Isaac, and Aiden could have time together as a new family, and get some rest.  We went to a hotel and got a few hours of sleep before heading back to the hospital for a while.  We got to just sit and hold Aiden (which was amazing!) and talk to Kaitlynn.  It also allowed Isaac to go and take a test that he was walking out the door to take when Kaitlynn informed him she was in labor and they were off to the hospital.  Not long after we arrived, the doctors told Kaitlynn she could eat normal food (not just IV fluids anymore.. YAY!)  so we got her a milkshake.  I have now gained a new respect for all of my sisters-in-law.  They have all gone through labor, and put up with all of the shenanigans that their families enact when sitting in the room with them.  They are amazing women.  Well, eventually we had to head home and that was a painful experience.

I can't ever begin to understand in full the pain a birth mother feels when she places her child with their adoptive parents and has to leave the hospital.  I imagine she feels very alone and as if something is missing.  All I know is that I think I felt an umpteenth (like a millionth of a percentage) of what they feel as I left Aiden.  It was like a piece of my heart was no longer where it should be.  I feel that every time I leave my nieces and nephews, but with this one being so new, so vulnerable, and so small, I think it was a little different.  This experience also exponentially increased my respect for those amazing birth mothers who carry that child for 9 months, experiencing a kind of hell during that time.  Some of them sicker than they have ever been in their lives.  Yet, they make that selfless decision to place their child.  In no way am I saying that mothers who choose to parent are selfish.  In both cases the parents are making the decision that they feel is best for their child, and that is what matters.  But, at this point, I can only speak about birth mothers.  I am so amazed at their resilience, strength, and awed by their love.  They are the answer to prayer, truly.  This experience also impressed upon me just how amazing it will be to expand my family, not only with a child, but with a whole group of new people.  If it is what the birth parents want, we will gain more aunts, uncles, grandparents, and other family members.  It will be like our family tree just sprouted more beautiful branches and became stronger.  I

Saturday, September 26, 2015

All good things must come to an end...

As it does every year... Summer must end.  It was a wonderful end, though.  After our family reunion we flew back to Utah with two nieces and a nephew.  We got to spend time playing, swimming, and enjoying kid time!  The kids stayed at my parents house, but since that is only 10 minutes away we still got to spend a lot of time together.  Jeremy and I took the two older ones to see The Minion Movie, taught them to play chess, and filled them up on candy before returning them to grandma.  Yeah, we know how to do this aunt and uncle thing.  But, eventually they had to go home.  But not before coming to our house, playing with the kitties and getting to ride the 50.  They were so excited to ride it and it was so much fun to see my nephew get a feel for it this year.  I have a feeling my dad will end up with an Arsenal of small dirt bikes just for when the grandkids come to visit.

Things then began to settle for a couple weeks before we went back to school.  During that time I did a good deep clean on our house and finally got to do some yard work, just in time to renew our home study.   The renewal is definitely much less stressful than the first time we did it.  I think mostly because we already knew what they were looking for.  And we already had a relationship with our social worker.  But, it went well and we are set for another year.

It is always so interesting to talk to people about our journey.  Of course, we inevitably get asked if we have considered fertility treatments and why we chose not to do them, etc, etc, but I just tell them that we spent plenty of time pondering our options, and praying over them, and feel completely sure in our choice.  We know that adoption is the route we will go this time around and perhaps every time around.  And people are always so shocked that I am not upset or completely devastated with that decision.  If anything I am happy, excited, and very much looking forward to it.  I just know that it is the path for us.  My mom is always so happy when I say that I am not upset about someone else getting pregnant because that is not my path. I recently read a BYU devotional from the 70s all about how we all have different paths.  We all have different trials and struggles.  And I have always beloved and this article confirmed that I was aware of the struggles I would experience before I even came to this world.  I knew what was in store.  I may not have fully understood the emotional aspect, but I knew that infertility and adoption would be part of my journey.  And I agreed to it.  Which means that there is absolutely no reason to be jealous or upset or anything else when I knew this would be my path.  And especially when I know that both Jeremy and I have been promised parenthood.  And perhaps it won't be in this life, but so be it.  Whatever Heavenly Father has planned is what should be.  He knows better than me what life has in stores.  Plus, I get to spend every day shaping and molding the next generation.  I get to put that maternal instinct into action daily.

Speaking of teaching, we are now back in school and to midterm for the first quarter.  I can't believe the time has flown by so quickly.  This year has been very interesting.  It is this crazy mix of good and insanity.  What I have found is that I am struggling to really develop a bond with the students like I have in the past.  There are a few that I have, but I feel very distant from most of the and I don't know why.  I have noticed that this group is higher academically than my previous group, but it seems that while they are academically higher, they aren't able to joke around as much.  Perhaps they just need some maturing time, but it has made this an interesting beginning to the year.  I also have some more difficult resource and behavioral students who have really pushed me at the beginning of this year.  We are starting, though, to get into a groove and they are figuring out that I am not able to be manipulated.  That is not to say that these students are horrible people, but they are incredibly intelligent.  Intelligent enough to figure out how to get out of things they don't want to do, but that is just not something I want to let happen.  Now,  for their accommodations through an IEP, I will adjust the sign meant or allow them to complete it in an alternate way, but I still want them to learn.

I am also working an extended contract this year, which means that  I teach all 7 class periods, plus study hall.  So then I have to work an extra 45 minutes before or after school to make up that prep time that I miss.  And I don't tend to have a lack of things to do.  It makes the days go by fast and does not allow me the time to sit and think about negative things.  So all of a sudden it has been a year on our adoption, or my little brother's baby is due in less than a month and I can't even remember where the time has gone, but it is a bit of a blessing in disguise because I don't have time to obsess over the things I don't have.  And then I have parent/teacher conferences and hear that my class is a favorite and how many students come home asking questions, and wanting to know more.  They are asking for book recommendations because their child wants to keep learning.  It's in that moment that I realized I have succeeded, even in the smallest way.  If the only thing a students gets when they leave my classroom is a deeper desire to learn, then I have done my job.  So, then, I just keep pushing forward, and finding new and better ways to entice students to want to learn.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Family Reunion

I can't believe it has taken me this long to post about our family reunion!  Time sure flies when you are as busy as can be!  Well, it was so much fun!  We got into all kinds of trouble, and probably annoyed the neighbors with all of our very loud laughter.

This was our 1st bi-annual family reunion.  It was the first time in over 5 years since our whole family has been together, and it was definitely worth it!  We went to Lake Winnipesauke (sp?) in New Hampshire.  We got to spend a week together in July before we all had to head back to real life.  The best part was that we were there over the 4th of July.

While we were there, we went to Boston.  It was my first time going there and it was truly awesome!  We went to Paul Revere's house, North Church, and the site of the Boston Massacre (among others).  We also ate at this cute little Italian place, and got DELICIOUS sandwiches and calzones.  Unfortunately, Jeremy wasn't feeling well that day, so I only got to go with my mom, dad, little brother, and his wife.  It was well worth it, though.  We laughed and enjoyed it.

The family reunion was so much fun, though!  We were staying in a house right on the lake, so we got to go water skiing, wake boarding, wake surfing, tubing, jet skiing, and other fun adventurous activities (especially with my family).  Somehow, no one got seriously injured.  Even when Jeremy had the "bright" idea to pull a tube behind the Jet Ski.  The look on my brothers' faces as they got whipped around at 60+ miles an hour (easily) was priceless.  It is kind of nice having Jeremy who can now make them the guinea pigs!  The biggest adventure of the whole week, though, when when we ran out of gas, and had to be towed back to the dock.  My nieces were concerned that we would never get back and be stuck there forever, and then we realized there were phones in the glove box, and we called back to the house for a rescue!  It's nice to know we will always rescue each other (even when it's due to our own stupidity).

We also played a very interesting game of reverse charades.  That is where everyone on the team, except one person, has to act out the clue, and one person has to guess the answer.  During the course of the game, Jeremy had to act like he was milking, and my mom became the cow.  I don't think he will ever live that down.  And I'm pretty sure some people may have laughed so hard they peed a little.

The fourth of July was a lot of fun as well.  We ate steaks, and other great food my mom prepared.  Then, we watched fireworks from the dock.  Afterward, when the kids were in bed, the adults (except my mom who stayed back in case any kids woke up), hopped in the boat and drove out to the middle of the lake.  We anchored there and just got to talk.  We laughed about memories, and asked my dad what his greatest advice in life would be.  He told us that it would be to not forget our faith, stay strong in the Gospel, and keep our families strong.  Our serious moment was then interrupted when two of my brothers freaked out over a "GIANT" (it was about the size of a dime) spider that was crawling up my blanket.  I proceeded to calmly swat it off the blanket, and kill it.  I then proceeded to chide them over the fact that I was tougher with spiders than they were.  Those moment don't happen often so I have to take advantage of them.

As all good things do, the reunion came to an end.  We all hopped back in cars and drove back to Deleware, where we stayed for another day before returning to Utah.  We got to go to Longwood gardens, which is BEAUTIFUL!  Then, we got to enjoy flying with three kids under 7.  Luckily there were six adults so we were almost evenly numbered.

Next post (which will hopefully not take as long to write as this one):  The end of summer and beginning of school.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Visiting the East coast

As I noted in my last post, I was home for one day from Colorado.  Then I hopped on another plane with my mom and flew to Philadelphia.  My older brothers both live just outside of there which makes it nice easy to visit.  This visit, though, served a dual purpose.  My mom and I were planning to come out around the 23, but one of my sisters-in-law was running in a half ironman and my brother was going down to be here support.  Of course, that meant that they needed someone to watch their kids.  Since they were going to be gone overnight, they wanted to be able to leave their kids at home and not have to go to a friend's house.  That meant that my mom and I got to go out 10 days earlier than planned!  The kids were so excited to see us and they were so wonderful.  We got to take the to church, and watch online as my sister-in-law finished her race.  Since our initial plan was to be there around the 23 in order to prep for our family reunion in New Hampshire, we just stayed.

The saying goes that visitors are like cheese.  They stink after 3 days.  Well, my brother and his family must be saints because they were stuck with us for 2 weeks!  It was nice, though, to just watch them live their lives.  We were a part of their daily routines and I just loved it!  We went to the store, watched swim team practice, went to the pool, the museum, and so many other awesome activities.  It has been so much fun to just watch my nieces and nephews grow over the couple weeks that we have been here.  I watched my niece swim in a meet and learn how to be part of a relay team.  I also got to watch my nephew swim in his first race.  The other coaches were saying he wasn't ready to swim in a meet this year, only in the warm-ups, but his coach kept pushing him and he was ready!  Previously, he had only swam in the lane closest to the wall so he could grab on if needed.  He would swim on his stomach for a while, then roll over to his back to breathe, and keep swimming.  Well, they put him in lane four, right in the middle of the pool.  And he swam the whole way!  It was a very proud moment.  It just helps solidify in my mind that I want my children involved in some type of activity or sport that pushes them and helps them grow socially, physically, emotionally, and mentally.

We also got to take one of my nieces and nephews to the Deleware Museum of Natural History.  They were so excited to show us around.  We saw animals, dinosaurs, carbon atoms, etc., etc., etc.  I really enjoyed watching the kids learn and grow.  I love sharing learning experiences with kids.  You get to impart your own knowledge and help them gain a deeper understanding of the world.  It is pretty awesome.  Then to be able to explain how important carbon atoms are and help build an example one and how how strong it is was a lot of fun.  Then, as the aunt, I knew I had to do some spoiling and buy my niece and nephew something at the gift shop.  So, I let them each pick two items.  They each chose a stuffed animal (a wolf for my niece and a hammerhead shark for my nephew).  Then they each chose another item.  My niece chose a little notepad for pictures and notes.  My nephew chose this painting kit that had two white, resin dinosaurs.  I was expecting him to just go home and paint it, but as we were leaving he turned to his sister and asked her which dinosaur she wanted to paint.  It was so sweet to watch them share.  Definitely a good learning opportunity for me as I think about my own future children.  It is essential that they spend time around other kids, and have siblings, If possible, to learn how to share, be kind, and have that amazing and deep love of family that I have with my brothers.

My mom and I also got to spend a couple days in New Jersey with my other nieces and nephew from my oldest brother's family.  They were heading up to New Hampshire early because we were going to my sister-in-law's lake house for our family reunion.  So, we came over for a couple days to watch the kids while my sister-in-law packed and got ready to go.  Then we had a couple ore days back in Deleware before heading up to New Hampshire.  We also had some fun because you can't go and spend time with little ones without having a great time!  We went to the tall ships summer fest in Philadelphia.  It was hot and crowded, but still pretty cool.  I had never been to south Philly before and I really enjoy seeing new places.  It was a cool little area with little restaurants and shops and row houses.  It would be fun to live in one for a little while.  I don't know that I could do it for a long time because I like my wide, open, spaces.  Well... It was a bit of a bust because there was some delay that meant the ships didn't do the parade when they were supposed to so we didn't get to see the giant rubber duck that the whole thing is famous for.  That was okay, though, because I was able to spend time with family and that pretty much makes it all worth it!

It is nice to spend time with family and see multiple parenting styles.  It means that I have a lot to draw on when my time comes and I get to see the personalities of my own little ones!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Beginning of summer

What a crazy summer this is turning out to be and I couldn't be happier!  I finished my second year of school at the end of May, and then early in June Jer and I headed off to Colorado for a wedding and family fun.

Things were a little crazy at first because we were in wedding central.  Our good friends (we think of them more as family) Howie and Ambur got married.  We were excited to be there.  They live in Texas but decided to have their wedding in Colorado where Ambur's parents live.  It was a beautiful ceremony and awesome party with just family and close friends.  It was really sad when it was over because we extremely enjoy spending time with them and were sad they had to leave the day after the wedding.  After that we spent a couple days with Jeremy's dad just relaxing and Jeremy learned some welding techniques (his dad is an AMAZING welder).  We got to visit I Jeremy's brother and his wife, as well as their four kids.  We had a big barbecue, laughed, and went for a bike ride.  Of course, it became pretty competitive and there was a big race.  Jeremy and his brother, along with one of our nieces, were so into it.  One of our nephews was just along for the ride to laugh at them.

Later, we went up to Denver to visit one of Jeremy's oldest friends.  We had a nice barbecue with him and his wife and a few other old friends.  It was really nice to all just be able to talk and for Jeremy to catch up with old friends.  It is also incredibly fun to see them because they are hilarious and we always have a lot of great laughs.  It always feels nice to just laugh hard and release any pent up emotion.  Laughter really is the best medicine and is generally better than a good cry.  The next day we went to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  They had an amazing Egyptian display with two mummies.  One of a poor woman and another of a rich woman and it was so fascinating to see the difference.  I bought some papyrus paintings to use in my classroom.  Then they had a special exhibit of mythical creatures which was really cool.  It had mermaids, unicorns, Griffins, sea monsters, dragons, etc.  and it showed all of the different ways these animals are depicted in different cultures and the different myths about them.  I'll be honest, I was completely geeking out.  We went into a few other exhibits like the space one and the African animals one.  We would have gone into the South America exhibit, but there was this MASSIVE rubber Anaconda at the entrance, and it completely freaked me out.  I don't know what it is about snakes, but I have a completely irrational and debilitating fear of them.  Just looking at this fake snake from the other end of the hall put me into a minor panic attack.  I figured it was best to just avoid that area.  So I did.  We went to the gift shop where I picked up the papyri paintings, and a Chinese dragon statue, as well as a fun European dragon magnet that was on springs and all jiggly.  As we left Jeremy slipped a bag to me and inside was a heart shaped rock painted blue and with the word "LOVE" painted on it.  He said I could put it on my desk and always remember how much he loves me.  (Insert awwwwww here).  He is a pretty amazing guy.

Unfortunately our Colorado trip had to come to an end.  It is always so sad to leave because it is so relaxing and wonderful to spend time with Jeremy's family.  They are so loving and kind.  You always feel welcome and know they have your back.  I was definitely blessed with some of the best in-laws in the world.  I couldn't ask for a more amazing family to be a part of.

We returned home and I spent one day re-packing and resting before I headed off to Deleware and New Jersey.