Thursday, July 14, 2016

Black Lives Matter

There have been a lot of loud voices lately saying, why do only black lives matter? All lives matter! Well, friends, I can tell you why, right now, there is an urgency regarding black lives...because they really haven't mattered. Yes, my white friends, the lives of our black friends haven't mattered. They didn't matter when we brought them over on boats and held them as slaves, they didn't matter when the Founding Fathers espoused freedom and equality and went home to plantations filled with slaves, and, this may be news to people, but, even as our nation elected its first black president, black lives still didn't matter.

We are kidding ourselves if we think we live in a society that values equality. When you look at a black man and wonder, before anything, if he is a thug or a criminal...When a black woman has strong opinions and suddenly she's an angry black woman...When parents choose not to send their child to "that school" because they have "heard things", but really the school is predominately black (and therefore bad). When these things happen we are reinforcing the deep rifts that our system was built upon.

I am setting aside anything involving police violence here because even without those murders, black lives haven't mattered nearly as much as those of their white counterparts. Unfortunately, white privilege allows us to not worry so much about it and, foolishly, say things like all lives matter (even when we don't mean it-- I've seen many people blow off (and say terrible things about) refugee lives, immigrant lives, etc...).

As an educator, my role is so important in helping my students navigate their role in this movement. I worry because it is, sort of, a leaderless movement. I look to the Civil Rights Movement as an example and see leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. The demonstrations, sit-ins, and protests were well orchestrated and organized. The leaders were calculated in their movements and messages. It's not that the current movement doesn't have a message--it does--but I worry that without a few strong leaders the movement won't be as strong or unified as it could, or should, be. Either way, I want my students to feel empowered. I want them to feel like their voices can be heard and that they are valued. I want to give them literature, essays, poems, and speeches from which they can draw strength and power. I want them to teach me. 

My eyes are wide open as we negotiate these turbulent times. I am an eager student of the time and, I hope, can be a sounding board for my students as they work to make sense of their role and their identity within this movement. #blacklivesmatter #mystudentsmatter

Sunday, June 19, 2016

On the Eve of 5...

Dear Lily,

Tomorrow morning you are going to be five. FIVE! A whole hand. On Father's Day, five years ago, I went into labor with you. I had to stop eating my dinner, my delicious dinner, because my labor got so strong that I knew, quite certainly, that we would be headed to the hospital. The next morning, at 6:09 am you were born, you made me a mama.

Lily Bean, this year has been an insane year of growth for you. You started writing so many new words, identifying how to spell things by sounding things out, and started to read. You are a whiz with numbers {you did not get that from your mama} and you can count things so quickly just by glancing at them. You loved Pre-K, and, while I know you are more than ready for Kindergarten, you are very anxious to start at a new school. You are so ready for school, though, and I think once you get started you will love it.

You are a little social butterfly. You love your friends and have so much fun playing with them. Your favorite things to do are play with dolls, build villages with Little People, and play outside with your neighborhood friends. You love Barbies, American Girl dolls, and baby dolls of any kind. You re-discovered a love of swimming this summer when you jumped into a pool at your friend's party. You are kind and sensitive and inquisitive. You are also impatient and quick to a temper {the good news is, that temper only comes out at home, and you are a sweetheart at school}.

My Lily girl, I hope you will always be confident, loving, and strong. Five feels like the big time. Kindergarten--real school--is about to happen and the world will start to feel more complicated. I want you to know that your intelligence, confidence, and strength will get you through anything. I love you so much and I cannot wait to see where five takes you!

Love, Mama

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Lily Graduates!

Almost a week ago Lily graduated from Pre-K. I am insanely proud of my girl and everything she has accomplished this year. She has grown leaps and bounds with her writing, spelling, and word recognition. She is a whiz at math and anything with numbers comes easily to her. Her teachers say she is very sweet and kind to her classmates, which makes my heart proud. She is truly ready for kindergarten!

The graduation itself was adorable. Each family had a table with a balloon, a class picture, a collage the teachers made for each child, a dog to get signatures from classmates, and a graduation picture. The kids processed in and stood on stage to sing graduation songs. Afterward, each child received a certificate. The school did a luncheon for all of the families, which was also fantastic.

We are sad to say goodbye to Lily's preschool. She loved it, and her teachers, so much! I am so pleased with how prepared she is for kindergarten, but saying farewell to her friends will be hard. She does have a summer session to attend, so she can hang on to preschool for a bit longer. I am sure as summer comes to a close she will be sad and worried as her days at her new school come closer, but we will cross that bridge when it comes.

Monday, April 18, 2016

A Wedding Deserves a Post!

I never post much (at least now, life is too busy), but my brother and his wife Sara celebrated their wedding this past wedding and I decided to write about it! The weather was perfect, the ceremony was beautiful, and the reception was fun. I miss the wedding weekend terribly! I could write about how much I love my brother and how happy I am to officially welcome Sara to the family, but I decided to post a few pictures and leave a copy of the speech I made at the rehearsal dinner.

Overly cautious. Timothy has also always been overly cautious. When he was little, maybe 3 or 4 years old, Timothy told my parents that Santa should leave the presents on the front porch because Santa was a stranger. Overly cautious. Later, as a teenager, when I was home on a holiday break from college, at around 2am, I heard doors downstairs being aggressively shaken. I thought someone was breaking into the house and was instantly startled. That person breaking in was only my brother checking to make sure all of the doors were locked by shaking them. Again, overly cautious.

Theresa (my cousin) and her date, Jackson. He is in love and made the googly eyes to prove it!
Perfectly right. Another particular trait of Timothy’s. He didn’t ride a bike until he was 10 years old because he needed to do it perfectly right. He was always quiet as a little boy, the silent “T”, who, I suppose, didn’t want to talk until it was perfectly right. He also took hours to get ready to go out with his friends, until they called out “Juliet!” He had to look (and smell) perfectly right. While being overly cautious and perfectly right may not seem like they fit together, really, they do.

My mom and brother. 
You see, when we were in high school, we had a conversation with our friends Lexie and Topper. Timothy was asked if he ever told a girl he loved her. He said no because he wasn’t going to say it unless he really meant it and it meant something. Again, cautious and right. Years later, I heard him tell Sara he loved her, and I knew. He was perfectly right.

Walking down the aisle. They did a perfect job!
Timothy, I am so proud of you. You took the time to do things your own way. You may not have always garnered praise for your way (I seem to recall your English teacher admonishing you about a crooked bulletin board, to which you responded, “well, it’s not your bulletin board, is it?”), but you’ve done things your way, in your time. I love you more than you probably know, and I am so happy to stand by your side this weekend as you begin the next chapter in your life.

Rehearsal Dinner Crew. Lily and Jackie love Gram and Pop!
Sara, I am so excited to call you my sister. While having a brother has brought me great joy, I have always wanted to have a sister. You fit into our family “perfectly right” and I am honored to stand by your side as you officially become part of the family. You are already aunt Sara to Lily and Jackson; they love you to the moon and back, and, to them, you’ve always been their aunt. Thank-you for loving my brother and giving him so much happiness.

Lily and Aunt Sara-- the stunningly beautiful bride
I am sure that, at this point, Timothy is nervous that I might do something that is characteristically Emily and talk for the next hour, but I won’t. I will leave you two with this—in marriage sometimes you will need to be cautious, but sometimes you need to take risks. Very often things won’t be perfectly right, but you will slowly realize that when things are imperfectly right that they are the most joyful moments. Here’s to Tim and Sara!

Me and Tom prior to the reception

Monday, February 22, 2016

On the Eve of 3...

Dear Jackson,

Before I run off to review interview questions, I wanted to take a minute and write down my "eve of" birthday letter to you. I can't believe you're 3 tomorrow. My baby! How can you already be 3? This year, the year of 2, was a big year for you. You got rid of your paci, started school, and were potty trained. You went from toddler to kid right before my eyes. I can't believe you aren't a tiny baby in arms anymore; though, honestly, were you ever tiny?

You are just a magnificent little human. Your personality, while quiet at first (you are shy around new people), eventually fills a room. The faces you make absolutely slay me and you say the silliest things. Right now, your favorite phrase is "you tell me", as in, "Jackson, how old will you be?"..."Mama, you tell me!" You are still working on getting colors totally straight, but really, you can't be bothered with the little details, you have too many bad guys to catch and punish!

Speaking of catching bad guys, right now, Batman is YOUR MAN. You are very into the ideas of good and bad. You are a good guy. Joker is a bad guy. You like to HIII-YAAA us {insert karate chop} or attack us with swords. In addition to the Batman love, you are enjoying trains, cars, and trucks. Despite the "boy" things you like, you also love to join sis and play dolls (though, sis usually gives you Barbie's dog, Taffy {you pronounce it "Tappy"} to play with.

You can certainly be a rough and tumble guy (I am fairly certain you will be the first with stitches...), but you are also the sweetest boy. You love to snuggle. You love holding "hams" (hands). On a whim you will say, "Mama? I love you to the moon and back!" You are sweet to your sis {most of the time} and go running to her when mommy and daddy won't give in to your cuteness--"I just need SIS!" Lily is always there with a comforting hug, a "there, there, it's ok", and a "let's go play in my room!" reassurance.

Your favorite food: Peace-A-Pizza; Favorite Dessert: Probably Pez; Favorite Show: Batman; Favorite Toy: Batman everything!; Friends: Audrey, Ms. Julie (you love your teacher SO much!), Amelia, Jacob, Lily, Andrew, Abby, and Charlie; Favorite Color: Blue: Favorite Song: Anything from Frozen (usually with some made-up words thrown in); Favorite Sport: baseball (like daddy, and you are really good!)

In Peter Pan, Tiger Lily says, "Peter Pan is the sun and the moon and the stars!" And surely, my Jackie-boy, you are the sun and the moon and the stars. I love you far beyond the moon and back. You filled spaces of my heart that I didn't know existed. Every moment that I get to watch you grow is a joy and a blessing. You came into the world "like Superman" (doctor's words...your shoulders never turned), and now you are saving the world from the bad guys. I love you so much. Daddy loves you so much. Sis love you so much. Thanks for making our lives better. Happy {almost} third birthday.

Love, Mommy

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Back to School {2016 edition}

Well, winter break is over. Usually, I am all doom and gloom and sadness, but this year I feel content, and that is a wonderful feeling. We had an extremely relaxing and fulfilling break. A few days ago I told Tom that this was the first break where I felt like I got to enjoy myself and relax. The kids weren't sleeping in really late (and Jackson still didn't sleep completely through any night...), but we had time to enjoy our friends and family and were able to recharge with our kids. It was perfect.

I may be biased, but this kid is basically the cutest human ever.


We got snowman decorating kits, but we have no snow, so we decorated Jackson.

It's hard to stop talking to take pictures.

Again, I may be biased, but she is breathtakingly beautiful. And I helped create her. WHAT!?!
As I enter a new year, I am looking forward to getting back into the routine. Tom and I are both doing a wellness challenge at school, so I am looking forward to getting back into a workout routine and some healthier eating habits. Lily and Jackson are both excited to get back to school tomorrow, which makes the transition back into work that much easier.

In just 2 weeks second quarter will close and we will be halfway through the school year. I can't believe how quickly this school year is flying! I will be taking my last graduate class this spring, and can officially take the Praxis in ESOL this summer (if I choose to do that).

Mostly, though, I am looking forward to March when my work wife comes back. I know she will be sad to see her maternity leave end, but I am looking forward to seeing her again and dressing alike totally accidentally almost every single day.

For now, I will be writing 2015 on the board, on paperwork, and on assignments until about April.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

To you, 2015

I used to blog, and then, you know, things like life happen and blogging doesn't seem so important. It is my favorite way to capture what is going on in our lives, so I figured I would write a quick 2015 recap to ring in the New Year.

This year saw Lily turn 4, Jackson turn 2, and Tom and I celebrated the big 3-0. Jackson started the party train with a birthday party during a snow storm in February. He celebrated with a Planes themed brunch and, despite the snow, most of our family made it to celebrate.

Tom and I celebrated our birthdays with a joint gathering of friends at Fogo de Chao. It was delicious and we had a wonderful time with friends. Lily turned 4 in June and we celebrated at home with friends and family. Her birthday was Peter Pan/Tinkerbell themed and mostly involved jumping in her new bounce house.

Professionally, work was insanely busy. I was the nominated for BCPS Teacher of the Year as the teacher from my school. That was a huge honor and felt incredibly validating as our administration makes the decision about who to nominate. In the late spring a group of us decided that we needed to take on more work and we pitched an enrichment period. It was accepted and this year we are piloting it! It is amazing and overwhelming and exciting. I coached what will be my last season as a volleyball coach (at least for the foreseeable future). It was a tough season, but I coached the best group of girls that I could have asked for. I am working on my ESOL certification. I am taking department chair courses. The job is busy, but it's wonderful.

Personally, I am thankful that 2015 was a year of happiness and health for me and my family. We had a smooth transition to pre-school for Lily (fingers crossed for kindergarten for next year) and Jackson loved starting 2-year old school. My brother and his soon-to-be-wife settled into their new house and are working to make it a beautiful first home. We traveled to Austin, TX for a work trip (though, when you get to travel on work trips with your husband, it doubles as a getaway). We enjoyed another summer at our beloved shore house. My parents and grandfather are healthy. My friends welcomed new babies, some after long roads and losses. God was good to us.

If there was one sad spot in an otherwise lovely year, it was the loss of Marge Kenney. I still feel like I could pick up the phone and make a lunch date with her, but I know her love and lessons will always live on in her girls. Her loss was cutting; Mrs. Kenney was a light in the world that went out too soon.

So here's to 2016. To love. To happiness. To health. To a healed world. To faith restored. To peace.