Friday, June 27, 2014

Some reflecting on my commentary in The Sun

So it's been almost two weeks since my commentary was printed in The Baltimore Sun. I have read numerous response letters, sifted through emails, read tweets, perused Facebook posts, and scanned the comments on the article. The responses are all very mixed-- some say I am narcissistic, some say I simply follow the company line, some say I am brave. I have been called some nasty names, but have also been given wonderful compliments. It has definitely been an interesting process, one that I am glad I decided to go through with.

The thing that really strikes me, though, after reflecting on my writing and the comments of others is that no one really read my piece. They read the title.

The Baltimore Sun titled my piece, "Quit Complaining about Common Core". I did not give the commentary that title. I did mention the Common Core three times in my commentary as a part of new changes that are happening in education, but that is where my "support" of the new standards ends. Once my commentary had a title with the words "Common Core" in it, people latched on and camped out on the extreme sides of hate and love (or maybe, more appropriately, support and opposition).

I was interviewed twice about the piece. I was mostly asked about my thoughts on the Common Core, and I answered those questions truthfully. The truth really is that I do support the Common Core for secondary English. I think the standards are rigorous, and really, are not too different than those that were pre-existing with the MSC.

All of that aside, though, my piece wasn't about the Common Core.

It was about teachers who whine. Who complain. Who are so firmly entrenched in negativity that they forget why they teach. Every teacher feels negative sometimes. Maybe its a particularly challenging class that plucks every nerve. Maybe its a problem student who has potential and refuses to acknowledge it. Maybe the copier is down for the 5th time in a week. The problem is, when teachers dwell in negativity, it breeds. It takes over. That negativity can be felt by colleagues and students alike. That is what I was writing about.

I believe teaching is a true vocation and not everyone is cut out for it. Just like I know I am not cut out for nursing. I love working with people, I don't love bodily fluids. I couldn't be a nurse. I do love my job though, so I work hard every day to be positive. Why do a job that you hate, or, seem to hate? If you hate it-- get out. Do something you love.

That is what I writing about.

Each day that I enter my school building I know I will see over 100 students of varying levels of need, ability, and security. I need to be on my toes. I need to be ready. If I hate my job-- I complain, I whine, I put up a fight at every turn over everything-- how does that help those 100 students? Ultimately, my job isn't about standards, it's about students. It's about knowing my students, and working to meet their needs. There isn't place or time for whining and complaining. There just isn't.

So, the moral of this: don't let The Sun give your commentary a headline. And, the headline is really what is worth a thousand words.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Jackson is 16 Months!

At 16 months Jackson loves...

1. ...dancing, especially Ring Around the Rosie.
2. ...his mama; he is a cling-on lately!
3. ...playing in the baby pool and the big pool.
4. ...playing with balloons!
5. ...saying all sorts of new words (newest words: balloon, clock, got it).
6. ...getting into everything he can possible reach.
7. ...screaming and screaming (for fun!).
8. ...carrying any bat-like object like a club.
9. ...cheesing!
10. ...and, of course, mama and dada!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Lily at 3!

At three years old Lily loves...

1. ...being a ballerina and dancing her feet off.
2. ...swimming.
3. ...playing in the sandbox.
4. ...calling her brother "Jack attack".
5. ...opening the baby gate by the steps (the only one she can open).
6. ...taking Fred outside by herself.
7. ...well, really, doing everything by herself.
8. at the shore.
9. ...dribbling a ball.
10. ...and, of course, mama and dada!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lily Turns 3!

Lily is three! She had quite the few days of celebrations, beginning on Thursday afternoon with a small party at Grammy and Grandpa's house. We drove up to Jefferson, hoping to swim, but arriving a little too late to do so. We did get to have a family dinner, eat cake, and open presents. It was very nice and Lily enjoyed seeing everyone for her birthday.

Yesterday was her actual third birthday. She had school in the morning and took in cookies for her class. She wore her Izzy (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates) birthday shirt and had her birthday hair clips in her hair. She looked very cute! After school, Grandma and Poppy brought Chick-Fil-A over for lunch.

After lunch, we noticed Jackson was wheezing fairly loudly. I called the pediatrician and they said to bring him right in. When they heard Jack, they immediate said they were going to put him on a nebulizer. They did two nebulizer treatments, which helped control his respiration and wheeze, but it didn't help his oxygen level (your oxygen level should be 100 (the ideal); his was 90). After the nurse practitioner had a doctor check him, they both agreed that we should take Jack to the ER. I drove home, got changed, picked up a few things, got Tom, sent Lily to my parents, and we went to the ER. Once they checked Jack they ordered a chest x-ray. The x-ray showed a little mucus in his lungs, probably from a minor infection or asthma. They put him on an inhaler and prednisone to help with the breathing. By the time we were discharged, his oxygen level was 99, so they felt comfortable sending him home. We have to use the inhaler every 4 hours for 2 days, and he stays on the steroid for 3 more. Certainly not what we were planning for on Lily's birthday!

After we got home from the ER, we ate dinner, then Lily got home from grandma and poppy's and she opened her birthday gifts. We got her a LeapPad 2, which she seems to enjoy. We are hoping it will be a good distraction for the long car ride when we go on vacation.

Today was a much better day! Despite the overcast, cooler weather, we had a great time celebrating Lily's birthday at the shore. We had friends and family come down, and we played, ate lunch, had cake, and opened gifts. Unfortunately, Lily got a splinter on the pier and simply could not walk for the rest of the day. Once we got home we finally got the whole splinter out, but she still insisted on walking on her heels. She is so dramatic!

Now, a few pictures from the birthday...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A letter on the eve of 3...

Dear Lily,

Tomorrow you turn 3! That means, three years ago tonight, as in right now, I was in the hospital with an epidural waiting for you to be born. And boy do I mean waiting. You kept us waiting until 6am the next morning!

I cannot believe three years have passed by. When they say it goes quickly, well, they aren't lying. It's amazing how slowly time seems to move when you are child, but how quickly it passes when you are an adult. When I want to hold onto time a little longer--to snuggle your little self for a few more minutes--time just says NO and keeps on going.

In these three years you have become such a huge personality in a little person. Your smile and dimples just melt me. You can be the sweetest of the sweet, the sassiest of the sassy, and then grumpiest of the grumps. You are so smart. Truly. You surprise me with things all the time-- like when grandma told me that you said, "I want 5 jellybeans- 3 red, 1 blue, and 1 green" and you knew that added up to five! You are so pleased by your artwork that you make at school. You show it off so proudly to everyone who comes through our house. You also say the craziest, funniest things. Every night, when I take you up to bed, you say, "Goodnight father" to daddy. It cracks me up! You are so free spirited. You dance. You make up songs. You jump. You just are you.

I wish I could bottle up this three year old you and show it to teenage you. Why? Because when you are a teenager and things might get tough, I want to remind you just how magical you are. You are so sure of yourself, so confident, so determined. I love every little bit of the kid you are.

Lily Lou, you are my sunshine. Very truly. You are an awesome big sister to Jack. Your love for him is really the purest, most joyful love I have ever witnessed. I hope the two of you grow closer, and stay close, as you get older. Remember, he is, and will always be, your best ally. You two make me smile every single day.

Be bold, be brave, be Lily. I love you to pieces. I can't believe you're three!

Happy Birthday!

Love, Mommy

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wow, this was a surpise!

So that blog post I deleted--my rant about teaching--has apparently made some waves, at least locally, about my perspective on the common core. After The Sun ran the post in their "Reader Commentary" section, it immediately got comments, both good and bad, on the post. When it hit the online paper, it got more comments. My email was attached to it, so I wasn't sure what that would mean, if it would bring many reader emails, or if it would go unnoticed. Well, it brought emails. Two emails from WBAL radio, an email from BCPS saying that Tim Tooten wanted to speak with me, an email from Loyola saying they posted the article, and numerous emails from teachers, parents, and others about my post. Initially, I thought that most responses I would get would be negative, but I was wrong. Most of the emails I have received are extremely positive; many of them saying that it is nice to see a different perspective. I am seriously humbled by this whole experience, and will definitely be more willing to make my opinions and my own voice heard in the future.

If you missed the piece in The Sun it can be found here:,0,2591545.story

I will say, the title that The Sun gave the piece is a bit misleading. My post was never about the Common Core, specifically, so to name it as such is not the entire truth of the article. Fortunately, in the phone interview I gave, the interviewer did recognize that. I am still a bit shocked about some of the waves this has made. I have tried to make it abundantly clear that my point-of-view is that of a high school English teacher, which is clearly different from other viewpoints. I am just tired of hearing about viewpoints that I don't share, and that, I was sure, many others did not share.

Also, a big thanks to my colleagues who pushed me to share the piece with The Sun. I wasn't so sure about making it public, and they encouraged me to do so, as they feel the same way that I do. I surely work with inspiring and amazing people. I am so lucky to be surrounded by wonderful people. Hopefully, this post is only the beginning of a dialogue that I think needs to be had. There are so many components to education reform, but no one ever sees the whole story, and, when something is flawed, it automatically means to scrap the whole thing. Unfortunately for the new standards, the true test of their worth won't come to fruition until this year's kindergartners graduate from high school...and I am sure they will have been replaced by then.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day! We had a low key day spent with family. It was great after a busy wedding weekend (will write about that later!). It was great to celebrate my favorite guys-- my daddio, my pop-pop, and my husband. Each of the men in my life bring me great joy and I am a better person because of each of them. Now, for a few pictures of my guys...

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mid-Week Confessions

1. Breastfeeding pictures online. Ok. I breastfed both of my kids. I loved it. I would say I am a breastfeeding advocate. I breastfed Jack until he was 1, and I breastfed Lily until she was 3 months old, at which point I made the decision to exclusively pump. I truly loved it and wouldn't trade those moments for the world. However...I wouldn't post pictures of myself breastfeeding (especially all snuggled in bed, that is a moment between me and my kid) and I don't really enjoy the pictures people post. Why? Because I wouldn't normally post pictures of my boobs on the internet. I know, boobs are doing a job, one that is natural, etc...and people want to normalize breastfeeding by showing it happening (and it is definitely no big deal)...but, really, I don't want to see you naked online. Sure-- breastfeed away in public, I did. That is an unavoidable thing. The baby needs to eat. The boobs have the food. A person has to go out of their way to take a picture of them doing it, though. That isn't just a natural occurrence. How do you normalize breastfeeding? Just do it in the mall, restaurant, whatever. But stop your selfies. That is just normalizing our 21st century narcissism.

2. Students with the end of the year jitters. They are like little puppies on speed. Seriously. They need to get out into the sun and run around (and I teach high school).

3. Ear infections. I hate them. They make my kid feel miserable. I hate when he looks so pathetic and just acts so out of the normal. I guess this isn't much of a confession, because I would think most people hate ear infections, but I just needed to say that out loud.

4. Non-listening toddlers. I think this explains itself.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

That post that was here...

...has to be removed for 30 days because The Sun decided to run it in their Op-Ed section! I am super excited that they picked the piece up! After they release the rights (after 30 days), I will re-post. Woo!

Sunday, June 1, 2014


I have mentioned this in posts before, but Lily is a picky eater. When she is in the mood, she eats fine (well, fine within the limits of the food she enjoys), but when she doesn't want to eat, she is very picky. She doesn't love to eat breakfast, which becomes a problems because the word hangry? Her picture is next to the word in the dictionary on (because dictionary? who uses that anymore).

I discovered that, when Lily doesn't want to eat breakfast, she will drink a smoothie. I figure this is an acceptable substitute because she gets something filling, and decently healthy, instead of whatever breakfast food I could have prepared for her. Tom has always been a smoothie lover, so I decided to do a little researching and start making smoothies for us. Jackson eats anything, and smoothies were no exception. The kid sucked down his first smoothie in about two minutes.

I wanted something easy for me or my mom when making breakfast in the morning, so I made some smoothie bags that are really grab and go. I had the forethought to take some pictures of the smoothie-bag making process, so instead of just written directions, I have pictures, too!

Step 1: Gather the ingredients you will need. I used: frozen blueberries (2, 12 oz bags); frozen strawberries (1, 64 oz bag); frozen mango (1, 24 oz bag); frozen pineapple (1, 16 oz bag); 1 banana; 1, 32 oz container of plain yogurt; 1 bag of baby spinach; and some grape juice.

I also needed 17 baggies, 1 Sharpie marker, my immersion blender, and my silicone baby food trays

Step 2: Date the baggies with the Sharpie

Step 3: Divide up 1 cup of fruit into each bag (I think my bags have a little more than a cup of fruit in each bag, I ended up with 17 baggies of fruit). I have a few mixtures: strawberry/blueberry; mango/pineapple; strawberry/mango; mango/blueberry. I divided the banana into fourths and put a piece in some of the bags. Next time, I will make sure I have more bananas. Put the baggies into the freezer.

Step 4: Pour the yogurt in the baby food trays and freeze (it took most of the day to get really solid cubes)

Step 5: Blend the spinach and a bit of grape juice with the immersion blender. Pour the mixture into the remaining baby food trays and freeze.

Step 6: Once the yogurt and spinach cubes are frozen, pop them out and add them to the fruit bags. I did one of each cube in each baggie. I had a few extra yogurt cubes, so I added those to the bags that had a bit more fruit. Put back in freezer.

Step 7: When you are ready to blend: remove one baggie from the freezer. Pour into a blender cup (I use my immersion blender to blend, so you could put this all directly into a blender). Add milk or juice or whatever thinning liquid you prefer. Blend until you get the desired consistency. Add more liquid for a thinner drink. I pour the kids drinks into reusable tag along cups with straws. Before I drink mine, I blend in some chia seeds. You could add whatever extras you wanted, like flax seeds or even protein powder.

Overall, the bagging and blending process takes a bit of time, but the outcome is an easy week of breakfasts. I can literally grab a baggie, add some liquid, and blend. The smoothie is packed with fruit, spinach, protein, and fiber. Next time, I want to try some coconut water as my liquid to add to the spinach.

Hope you enjoy your smoothies!