Over the last ten days, I’ve been participating in an Instagram challenge hosted by one of my favorites – Laura Tremaine – called #10ThingsToTellYou. Basically, Laura gave us ten prompts designed to get us sharing some of the little and big things that make us US. In her words, the goal was to “spark conversation among friends. To see and BE SEEN. Many of us struggle with loneliness or think we don’t belong, but we also don’t let ourselves be KNOWN.” As it turned out, this was more of a “challenge” for me than I realized it would be when I started… I shared about my childhood (complete with a 7-year-old perm pic), a teacher that influenced me, how studying abroad changed my worldview, my “hidden talent,” how I feel about my kids growing up, my first year of motherhood, my reading routines, grief, and my afternoon pick-me-up… It was a great exercise for me; and, if you don’t follow me there and/or you missed this series, I’d love if you’d check it out and JOIN THE CONVERSATION in the comments. 🙂
But on to today… The name for Laura’s challenge (and the name of her new blog, which I’m obsessed with by the way) was born from the scattered conversations we have over coffee or wine with our closest friends. We talk about TV shows and clothes and books AND ALSO real stuff like our kids not listening, our spouse working a lot, and our anxiety over all the scary things in the world… I really like this format and thought it would be the perfect way to continue my slow jump back into this space and “catch you up” just a bit on my life lately. (Fair warning though, my list is ALL over the place! Also, most of the pictures will be “old news” if you follow me on Instagram, but I’ve tried to go into a little more detail/depth in my writing here.)
Ok then, pull up a chair!! Here are ten things I have to tell you…
1.) An update on my sister/family — I figured I’d just jump in here and get lighter as we go…
You’ll remember from this post, that my sister’s husband, DeWayne, passed away at the end of July very suddenly. Before that day, I had no concept of how quickly your entire life could change with one phone call or bit of news. The end of July, start of August is really just a blur to me now. It was AWFUL; and, to be honest, I had a lot of fear about whether or not our lives would EVER feel OK again… I read about grief and trauma and accepted that this would be a marathon; but, still, I dreaded every mile of it… And now, here we are. It’s been seven weeks, and we* are doing it.
We are still standing (most days)… On the one hand, our lives still aren’t OK. We are still sad, we still cry. My sister still comes home to an empty house. It still sucks. BUT, we are doing it. We don’t cry every time someone asks how we’re doing anymore, and we can talk about DeWayne without sobbing – sometimes, we even laugh at a memory of him or yell at him for not being here to change a lightbulb or pick up dog poop. We call on the village to put sandbags down when a flood is coming, we invite friends to fill the dining room table, we journal, we talk, we watch reality TV, and we get up, get dressed, and go to work every day. We are doing it.
As much as I desperately want to be able to wrap up this season neatly with a bow and call it “done,” we still have a long road ahead… There still isn’t a “silver lining” per se to be found here. BUT, there is – far in the horizon – a tiny light of hope for the future… There are good days mixed in with the bad now. We, as a family, are closer than we’ve ever been. DeWayne’s legacy – with his students, the high school boys he coached, his softball teammates, his friends, and even people who didn’t know him but love us – continues to stretch far and wide. My beautiful sister is back to work counseling elementary school kids. She’s visiting Target multiple times a week again (whew), and painting Nora’s nails, and coming to Sam’s soccer games. She’s still sassy and hilarious. She’s taking it day by day, but she’s doing it…
ALSO, as a side note, I keep thinking I couldn’t be any prouder of Kathryn, any more grateful for friends and family, any more thankful for the time I did get with DeWayne, but then, I am. There’s always more of that stuff when you need it.
*We in this case, is mostly just Kathryn. I have my own grief, for sure, but it is very different; and, frankly, a lot of mine is tied up in hers. It’s confusing, but I wrote more about it here if you’re interested. (Also, I probably won’t write much more about it – at least for a while, but I wanted to give you a brief-ish update since so many of you have prayed for and checked up on us these last two months!)
The other updates will be quicker (and lighter), I promise…
2.) An update on Sam & Nora — Both kids have fallen nicely back in to the routine of a new school year… Really, as much as we love the freedom and flexibility of summer, ALL of us do better with a schedule. Sam is in first grade and reading UP A STORM. At back to school night, his teacher called him her “little rule follower,” I beamed with pride. 😉 First grade is fun. He is learning REAL stuff – including how to study for actual tests every Friday – but also still getting to PLAY a lot – next month they have field trips planned to a farm and our local children’s museum – and he still loves school. He is also playing soccer (and Jeff is coaching), which is fun. Their team lost 8 – 0 at the first game, but Sam – literally – smiled the entire time. I’m soaking all of it up while it lasts.
Nora lays out her clothes every night before bed, wears a tutu every single day, accessorizes with bandaids, and immediately changes into a princess costume when she gets home in the afternoons. I don’t really know where this child came from, but she is spunky and independent, and I love it (most of the time). She is “learning” Spanish, taking gymnastics, and playing with A LOT of play-dough at school. She’s a handful at home, but her teachers report that she is “an angel,” so, I guess I’ll take that.
3.) An update on school — It’s hard to believe I have been back at school for over a month now. (Last week was interim for the first quarter.) As I mentioned above, I was kind-of in a daze at the beginning; but, thankfully, I’ve got great support at my school and awesome students, so things got off the ground just fine. Probably the biggest “new” thing this year is my little classroom re-design which you, hopefully, saw in my blog post last week. It sounds kind-of silly, but it really does make SUCH a difference having a space where I feel comfortable and “at home.” My students are enjoying sitting on the couch, and I feel like the whole atmosphere of my classes is a little more relaxed because of it.
Rest assured, we’re doing more than just “relaxing” though… The junior AP Language & Composition class is deep into Rhetorical Analysis and just finished analyzing 5 US Presidents’ speeches after national tragedies (#deep). My sophomores recently determined their Myers-Briggs Personality Type and did some reflecting on that, and we are currently wrapping up a unit on mythology and archetypes with a “Myth in Movies” project that is shaping up to be pretty fun/engaging/beneficial. And, finally, my ninth graders “flashed back” to their elementary school days to review the Elements of a Story, wrote their own personal narrative, and started The Book Thief this week.
This is my twelfth year teaching, and I really do still love it. I take for granted that I have a job I enjoy that, truly, makes a difference in the world even on the hard days (and there are hard days).
And going way lighter now…
4.) I’m obsessed with… Peter Kavinsky. At the recommendation of my students and, ultimately, Annie B. Jones (who I tend to trust a little more when it comes to book recommendations), I read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han a couple of weeks ago, followed quickly by the movie version on Netflix (I *might* have re-watched the last scene three time) and the other two novels in the “trilogy” – P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean. Guys, I can’t remember the last time I became so utterly obsessed with a series of books. I barely slept for a week so I could read, and then couldn’t wait to rush into school in the morning and talk to my students about it… Jeff and Kathryn totally made fun of me for my obsession with these “teeny-bopper books”, but they are sweet and fun and made me so nostalgic for my own “young love” story. The third one, especially, took me right back to my senior year with Jeff as we were choosing colleges and thinking about our future. As cheesy as it is (and, frankly, as the books are), these were a bright spot for me these last few weeks, and I’m not even ashamed to admit it. 😉
5.) I’m loving everything in One Delightful Shop right now – especially the leather earrings!!
OK, full disclosure, I’m an affiliate for ODS, so I get some freebies once in a while and a little kickback if you shop through my link (above), BUT I’m serious, I LOVE these leather earrings. I wear them at least three times a week because they are SO easy – lightweight and comfortable with just enough style to make me feel “put together” but not “overdone” with just about any outfit. I have the gold and leopard (shown below) in the regular size, and I just recently bought myself the BIG buffalo check ones because I just couldn’t resist. I get so many compliments every time I wear them – they really make a statement! (Ugh. I think I might have to buy the Big Turquoise ones too!)
I also adore the Hamilton Tunic – I have it in navy stripe and gray heather – for its ruffle detail and longer length (order down a size), and I can’t WAIT for it to be cool enough to wear my Mint Hoodie soon!
6.) J.Crew Factory now sells clothes on AMAZON. With PRIME SHIPPING. #gamechanger
This camo sweater, this chambray popover, and this woven collar sweater are on my Fall Wish List. (P.S. I’m NOT an Amazon or JCrew Affiliate. They couldn’t care less about me!)
7.) I loved Jen Hatmaker’s interview with Jodi Picoult on the For the Love Podcast this week. Picoult is one of my all-time FAVORITE authors, and I didn’t know she had a new book coming out on October 2nd. This one sounds intense and amazing, and I’ve already pre-ordered it.
8.) A new season of Serial started yesterday!!
Did you listen? Did anyone else just feel so happy to have Sarah Koenig’s voice in their earbuds again?!? Haha! The “story” from Episode 1 wasn’t the most enthralling in my opinion, but I’m definitely intrigued enough to listen again…
8.5. because I make the rules.) I just started reading the novel Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber which is a story about a Serial-esque true crime podcast told from the perspective of the victim’s daughter ten years after a trial sent a man to prison for murdering her dad. I’m not very far into it yet, but it’s definitely an interesting point-of-view and is making me think a little about the ethics and the personal side of this genre that I “enjoy” so much.
9.) Leave-in conditioner has been a miracle-worker for my hair.
My sister recommended (i.e. gave me in a neat little “hair care kit” with numbered products and instructions) this BioSilk Silk Therapy Leave-In Conditioner back in June, and I use it every day right when I get out of the shower now. It helps SO much with frizz when I blow dry OR air dry. Why did it take me 34 years to figure this out?!?!
10.) I’m SO thankful for Jessica’s Turner new book: Stretched Too Thin.
Jessica Turner is a popular/successful blogger, mom of three, and a full-time corporate employee that I’ve been following for a while. I was so excited for the release of her new book, Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive to come out on Wednesday. I started the audiobook immediately, and – so far – have not been disappointed. It is so well researched and echoes my own experience in SO many ways. When Jessica talked about putting unrealistic expectations on herself (expectations that NO ONE else has for her) and the concept of “mental load”, I had to resist the urge to yell out a hearty “AMEN” while I listened and washed dishes after the rest of my house fell asleep! Mainly, I’m just really glad this book is out in the world and that people are talking about what it’s REALLY like to be a working mom today. I think so much of this needed to be said, and it really does help me not to feel so alone in some of my own struggles with the “balance.” If you’re a working mom, I definitely recommend grabbing a copy, and I’d love to hear what resonates with you as you read! (Also P.S. I’m not an affiliate or a member of Jessica’s launch team either. I just bought the book and wanted to share!)
So, there you go!
Do you feel caught up now?!?!
I miss you guys! PLEASE tell me some things that are going on in your life!!!
Have a great weekend!
Hi Elizabeth! I’m brand new to teaching AP Lang. Would you mind sharing some of your resources? I’m feeling a little overwhelmed with it all and could use all the help I can get. Thanks!
Have you read Crazy, Rich Asians? It is actually part of a trilogy and I am enjoying reading all of them. Definitely going to check out those books you read! I love nostalgia in books!! Ordering some earrings now!