Thursday, August 28, 2014

back to school mama

I got a job.

There's no other way than to just come right out and say it.  Since I became a mama (7 1/2 years ago!!) I basically dreamed of being a stay at home mom.  I've gotten little glimpses here and there, staying home for a year with Andrew, then working part time for a year.  Then I got to take a semester off when Kerigan was born, and most recently we were blessed to become part of a new community and my husband's new job allowed me the freedom of being a substitute teacher.  Going to work whenever it was convenient for me.  Being able to feel like that stay at home mom I had always dreamed of.

I could take my kids to appointments whenever I needed to.  Not to mention going to my own appointments without having to worry about taking time off.  I took charge of Andrew's class Christmas party and glued twenty-five gingerbread houses together, made snowman cupcakes and got to watch the kids bring the gingerbread houses to life with candy and treats.  I got to take Andrew out to lunch during the day.  We could go to Daddy's school and surprise him anytime we wanted.  I made homemade minion cupcakes for Andrew's birthday and got to be the one to deliver them and help serve them to his class.  On the last day of school I helped with the class pizza party and got to watch my son interact with all the new friends he had made the past year.  I got to witness every special day and moment in both my kids lives the past year.

And you just can't put a price tag on that.  I was careful not to take it for granted.  I knew I was lucky, and those moments were sacred.  

And as it turns out, short lived.

So let's face it.  It's no secret that I love being a stay at home mom.  But... there's a neat little part of this story that needs to be told.  
With Kerigan turning 3 this summer, I knew she would be going to preschool and soon enough, Kindergarten.  I also knew deep down that while I would also have loved to be the "room mom" and plan all of her class parties, I just saw no reason not to think about going back to work.  I needed last year to get moved in and settled.  Unpack and feel more organized (even though we still have a long way to go!)  But there's only so much organizing I can do and I knew with both my kids in school I would feel the need to contribute to our family's finances.   Be able to help save money for our kids' educations, and have a little extra to take those Disney trips and mini vacations I so desperately love!
So, while I knew that me going back to work was in the cards, I wasn't really looking all that hard for a job.  I had the opportunity to sub in all the elementary schools in the district.  I had made friends with many of the teachers throughout the district, and of course we knew people through Craig's job.  But deep down I knew where I wanted to be more than anything was with my kids.  And somehow in the process of making this place feel like "home," I became attached to Andrew's school.

I'm not really sure why or how it happened.  I think a large part of it was that it was so convenient.  Right up the street from our house (5 minute walk, 2 minute drive).  Not to mention I immediately fell in love with the staff and principal.  With my husband being an administrator now (that makes me feel so old!  I can remember when my dad was an administrator and I thought it sounded so official!) we have had a unique opportunity to "hang out" with other administrators.  Andrew's principal (and others in the district) became our friends.  And Andrew's school felt more and more like "home" every time I walked inside.

So early one Monday morning when Craig got a text that a 4th grade job had opened up last minute at Andrew's school, I just couldn't believe it.  4th grade is pretty much my dream grade, and Andrew's school?  Well, I think we all know how I feel about that. :)

The principal wanted me to call her.  I was a mess of nerves.  It was so odd to me that while 2 years ago the thought of working made my stomach turn, now I was completely thrilled to be very possibly going back to work full time.  

So I interviewed on a Wednesday afternoon.  I sat in the interview with my other potential 4th grade team mates, principal and literacy coach, all of whom I already knew and loved.  And when the first question they asked me with a smile was why did I want this job and why at their school, I couldn't control my emotions.  And I got choked up!  In an interview, people!  And it could not have been more genuine.  It was the easiest question they could have asked me.  I had no trouble coming up with a list of reasons, and I told them their school felt like home to me.

And that was it.  An hour later I was walking out with a spring in my step, feeling pretty confident I had just sold myself.

The next morning I got the call.  I had gotten the job.  My dream job.  At my kids' school right in our neighborhood.  I couldn't think of one thing that could have been better than that.

Most of my friends and family, who know how much I love staying home, have been treading carefully the past couple of weeks as I've immersed myself into my classroom.  Since I was hired relatively last minute, I had to attend all new teacher trainings and didn't have much time to get in my room to unpack.  Yes, it was stressful.  Yes it took time away from my family because I had to go in on weekends just to get it done.  But this time Craig could bring the kids up to see me.  They had lunch with me and played on the playground, and it was just a wonderful feeling.  Being a 2 minute drive from home is such a blessing.  Everything about this job is a blessing.
(Helping mommy move into her new classroom)
My friends have carefully asked me if I survived the first few days of school.  I've been pretty reflective about how I'm feeling because it is so unlike me!  To say I was "burnt out" before would have been an understatement.  Teaching was getting so demanding, and I started feeling like it just wasn't "fun" anymore.  I was at a crossroads.  I was trying to figure out what else I could possibly do with my life besides teach.  I couldn't have put my finger on exactly what it was that was making me so unhappy.
But now I know.  

It was a mixture of a 45 minute commute, not being able to make close friends with people at school because we all lived so far away from each other, never seeing my husband, and not feeling like part of a community.  And now that I have all of those things back in my life, I just feel like a whole new person.  I know that sounds clique, but it's true.  I don't think Craig can believe that I haven't complained about going back to work.  I haven't been grumpy, or sad to leave the kids every morning.  I've never been happier to be working.  How could I not be with my son just down the hallway??  And like I told my friends that have asked how it's going... I have nothing to complain about!  It is such an amazing and refreshing feeling.
(My sweet mentor and friend is our literacy coach and she left me these beautiful flowers on my first day of school.)

I never would have dreamed that packing up and moving was exactly what we all needed.  I needed that mental break last year to recharge, to get excited about teaching again.  Because now I can see more clearly.  Now I remember why I became a teacher in the first place.
(Left on my desk by one of my sweet new students)

Sometimes it just takes a leap of faith to be able to understand what you need to fly.  And yes I just made that up.  But truer words have never been spoken.
My sweet friend Angie (she's a teacher too!) planned a little party for me!  We went out to Rube's (my favorite- grill your own steak place!)
And then we went to her house for a fire afterwards (this is Angie, my neighbor Heidi and me).  She surprised me with this cookie and some champagne! 
The kids had fun lighting their marshmallows on fire!  Ha!

So while I'm not a "stay at home" mom anymore,  I still get to be with my kids (Kerigan will be here in a couple short years!).  I still get to drop them off and pick them up, take them to their first day of school with my camera in tow, and while I may not get to be in charge of the class parties and join in, I can still peek in at them.  I won't have to miss the music concerts or special parent invite days.  Because I'll already be there.
(My buddy and me on our first day)
And there is just nothing in the world that could ever mean more to me.

And it did.

Monday, August 25, 2014

summer catch up

I just had to do a summer phone dump because I am starting to take so many more pictures on my phone now!  I do a post and then forget to back up and post ones on my phone.
This was taken on my mom's birthday.  She came to spend the day with us and we took her to a yummy little italian place in town.  It was so delicious!
Kerigan discovered her love of good ol' Iowa sweet corn.  You just can't beat it!  And I think we ate on the porch several times a week all summer long because the weather was SO beautiful.  In the 70's most of the summer.  Even through July.  It was unseasonably cool and we loved every minute of it!
My girl on her first day of swimming lessons

I was so proud of her, she jumped right in and followed her teacher's directions!
First day of tumble tots!
She loved this trampoline.  Actually she loved the whole class so much she wanted me to sign her up again so I enrolled her in a class this fall.  She is so excited!
Andrew did the summer camp and he loved it too!  But he's sticking with Tae Kwon Do for the fall!
In other big news....
While apprehensive at first....
This little man learned to ride his bike without training wheels!
We took him to an elementary school that has a track on a flat surface so he could go without stopping, and it was the best thing ever.  We practiced for 2 days in the neighborhood and just weren't having any luck.  He was frustrated and didn't have the best attitude about it.  We may or may not have bribed him with a Skylander.  Worked like a charm!  Ha!
Someone else decided she wanted to ride her princess bike too!  I got her a new princess helmet and she jumped right on and learned to pedal in about 5 minutes.  She also rode around and around the track with Andrew and had a blast.  And who says you can't ride a bike in a tutu and flip flops!?
He was so proud of this- he built it at Ga Ga's one afternoon.
My precious little dancer.  I ordered her dance stuff online and it came in the mail and she couldn't wait to try it on.  She could not look any sweeter.  What is it about dance outfits??  I could just eat her up with a spoon!
This picture cracks me up.  With their cheetos and McDonalds drinks, konked out on the way back from the August heart meeting.  Our meetings are about an hour away, but we love going and they love to play with their friends!  I always bring their pajamas and we make it fun by stopping through drive thru's on the way there and back.  Mandy and I always take turns driving and love the time chatting in the car!  It's a win-win!

I think that catches me up!  Back to school...coming up!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I can't believe it's time to wrap up my summer posts.  I have many special back to school memories to share, but want to keep this blog in order so I have a few more updates before we tell summer goodbye!
This cracked me up.  My friend Angie and I met at Starbucks one morning and then grocery shopped and we saw this book and had to take a selfie.  We are both teachers and were loving our sleepy mornings and not ready to start getting up bright and early again!  Ha!
One afternoon we took Andrew and a couple of his friends to the "jumpy house place" (as he calls it!)  They had a blast and I don't think they ever stopped running or moving once except for this picture!
A certain little girl refused to slide.  I decided to just let her wander around and see what she would do (I knew she wouldn't go, she is so hesitant to try new things, which I hope changes as she grows!)  It took her about an hour of being there (and one time getting stuck up in the play tunnels and crying for me to come get her, which I did NOT do, just for the record!  No way this mama is crawling up there and getting stuck!  Ha!)
As you can see, once she made the decision, she was off.  She absolutely loved it and she never stopped the whole rest of the time.  We had to stay a little longer since it took her so long to discover how much she loved it!
We saw Planes, Fire & Rescue with some friends one afternoon!  So much fun! (Kerigan hogged the popcorn- Ha!)
Lots of ice cream dates with our good friends!
These three crack me up!
We were passing through our old stomping grounds so I texted our old friends from Andrew's preschool and they joined us at the park for a picnic supper!  The boys acted like no time had passed and could have played forever!
Nicholas and Payton were Andrew's very first friends at preschool when he turned 3.  They have been best buddies ever since and they miss each other!  I think it's so great we can still all keep in touch and get them together every once in a while! 
Kerigan was so proud she climbed this giant rock!
She has fun playing with Payton's big sister too!  Silly boys!
We joined our friends for a benefit to support childhood cancer and look who was there!  More princesses!  The girls were starstruck yet again!
We all brought toys to donate to the children's hospital and Santa showed up!  Andrew couldn't wait to get on his lap and tell him what he wants for Christmas already!  Ha!
I made him take a picture with the princesses.  You can see he was thrilled.  But secretly I don't think he minded too much!  Ha!
The fire department was there and the kids had fun exploring the fire truck!
Seriously?  He really is this funny.
I've been having fun with my friends too!  I've never really had so many girl friends that all hung out regularly and went to movies, dinner and had drinks together!  I am loving it!  I have found the best friends in our new little town, and I am so blessed.  It's something I had prayed for for a long time, and God has provided me with that need for close friendships and community.  I love that our kids have all become friends too.  There have been lots of fun times and laughs this summer!
And some serious half price Applebees appetizers!  Can't beat that!

 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."
John 15:12-15

Monday, August 18, 2014

lazy lake days

Before school started we had a little family getaway at the lake!  It was so much fun to be all together, relaxed and stress free!  Ahhh the lake is just my happy place!
Sweet family selfie.  
The kids absolutely love to anchor at the beach, have a picnic and go swimming up to the shore.
My favorite thing to do is go cruising around the lake, at a slower pace while soaking in the rays!  This doesn't work too well with the kids as they want to go FAST and they beg us until we do!  Kerigan loves driving with daddy.
A town staple
We love eating at the Barrel.  It's been in town for years and is a part of history.  They have the best chicken and ice cream ever!
A couple weeks later, we had a girls (and Andrew!) day and Mandy and I brought the kids for a boat ride again!
This is the life!  Ha!
Before we left I picked up a huge sack of sand toys for them to play with on the beach and Andrew just went crazy over it.  He is really into building sand castles and this helped a lot!
Working on their sand castle!

Mandy and I- heart mamas take the beach!  Ha!
My sweet girl
Of course we had to take them to the Barrel.  Where you seriously still place your order from a phone that's attached to the wall at each booth!  Something that will be a thing of the past in a few years, I'm sure!
They wanted to pose by the ice cream cone this time!  It's the "best in town!"

We loved our little end of summer lake adventures.  Hopefully there will be at least one more before we put the boat away for the season!

Related Posts with Thumbnails