Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pretty Much the Best Vacation Ever

This spring break we went big. European vacation BIG!

My brother and his family have been stationed in Rota, Spain for the past three years. We've always planned on visiting and since they are preparing to return stateside this summer it was now or never. So off to Spain we went!

We started on a plane...

Then switched to a train...

We had 10 days of action packed adventures and the best part we got to share it all with my brother, sis-in-law, nieces, nephews!!

The day after we arrived in Spain, we jumped on a ferry and actually headed to Africa. My sister-in-law had booked us a trip to visit Tangier, Morocco. We had an amazing time with Jamal our tour guide showing us around. We got to take a camel ride along the beach which was incredible. We got to enjoy mint tea and a delicious cake with argon oil as well as a lamb tangine. The rug shops and markets were interesting as we bartered our way through purchases. I don't know what I expected Morocco to be like, but it was different than expected. My sis-in-law wrote a great blog post about our experience visiting Morocco and she shares some great pictures too so check it out!

One day we went in to the town of Sevilla, Spain to hang out at Isla Magica, an amusement park. Anybody who knows our family, knows we LOVE amusement parks. Every spring break we hit some type of park so we searched to see if one would be anywhere near where we were staying and voila, there was. The best part was the amusement park had different "lands" and we got to visit the land of America. Too funny!

On Easter, we headed to Arcos, Spain for the annual Running of the Bulls. WOW! What an experience. My brother was the only one brave enough to actually run. The rest of us sat behind a nice metal fence that was bolted into the ground. The streets were crowded and boy do the people know how to party! After the bull run we climbed the steepest hill I've ever seen to reach the castle at the top. The views were incredible! We also found some birds to hang out with way up there.

We took one day and made the trek to Gibraltar, a British Overseas Territory. It was nice to hear people speaking in English. We had a fabulous lunch of fish and chips before heading up the rock. Of course the monkeys that live at the top of the rock were a huge hit. One friend tried to steal my glasses!

After Gibraltar, we headed to Portugal to spend two days in Lagos. It was spectacular! We rented a house since we had a party of 10 and spent the time exploring in the old city. The shops and restaurants were adorable and everything was so clean. Unfortunately, it was very windy and gray while we were there so we weren't able to check out the beautiful water that we saw in pictures. According to Dave though we are going back one day so hopefully we can see it then!

Finally, we ended the vacation actually exploring Rota, Spain where my brother and sis-in-law live. We braved the streets on our own without my SIL who had played tour guide all week. It was another lovely day of exploring castles, churches, and quaint restaurants and shops.

How's that for a vacation?
Four countries...Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Morocco!
Two continents...Europe and Africa!

The whole family now has an itch to travel more. We're already thinking of where we should go next. Everybody was so friendly and helpful. I felt very safe traveling and making our way through all the towns. Now that we have our passports, watch out world!

So now after many planes, trains, and automobiles rides, oh and a ferry boat ride too we are back home getting ready to head back to school tomorrow.

We went, we conquered, and we made incredible memories!!

We took lots of pictures so check out my facebook page to see the albums.

Changes Ahead

This year is my 10th year of teaching. Where did the time go? I've taught both 3rd and 5th grade throughout the years and enjoyed both.

Next year though I'm trying something new! I've been hired as the teacher for a brand new accelerated program within my school. I will be teaching an ELA and math class of mixed 4th and 5th grade students. Since the program is new there is much to be done, which is both exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

As the teacher of this program, I have to go back to school to earn my certificate as a gifted and talented teacher. Being a lifelong learner, I could not wait to start my graduate classes and I'm happy to say that I'm halfway through the first two of five classes I must complete. I have already learned so much!!

I won't lie though. It's been quite challenging balancing being a graduate students, college teacher, and 3rd grade teacher along with wearing the mom and wife hat. But, I know it will be worth it. Change is good!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Assigned School Projects for Home

As a teacher, I like the idea of projects for families to do with their children. Projects provide connections between home and school and are a time for the kids to share what they're learning and for parents to spend quality time with them.

Switching hats, as a mom, I confess that projects can be annoying. Finding the materials, finding the time, pestering the kid, and being tempted to just do it yourself can ruin the fun of any project. That quality time with your kid becomes a nightmare.

Currently, Zoe has a book report project due for her ELA class and a project display board for her academic challenge class. Yes, we have known about both projects for about a month. One project was due this week and the other deadline right around the corner. No, we had not started putting anything together before this week. We had talked about what she was going to do, but the actually doing part was lacking.

This week though with some unexpected snow days, I have had a blast working with Zoe on the projects. I LOVE the book summary assignment where they had to choose a container and include 5-6 objects that represent the book, write a summary, and be prepared to present their book. Zoe chose a mystery book that took place in a replica of the Titanic so this is her finished project...

We had so much fun spray painting, discussing the story elements, choosing the objects, and putting it all together. Even Dylan got in and helped us making some of the Titanic's elements work. I'm amazed at Zoe's creativity. She has such great ideas and I love listening to her thoughts. Oh and as a teacher-mom I was thrilled with her book summary. She is such a great writer too.  That probably comes with her ability to tell such great stories!

Enough bragging.

Today, we are conquering our second project. We started yesterday and realized we were some glycerin and paint short.

Thank goodness for snow days!!!

How do you feel about homework projects??

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mother's just know

Always follow your mother's intuition. I finally understand what my mom meant when she would tell me she "just knows things." This week, I just knew. 

Dylan received an iPhone at the beginning of the school year. He comes home by himself and we don't have a home phone so we agreed he would get an iPhone for his 14th birthday.  That way Zoe could get his hand me down phone to have in the house in case there were times when she would get home and Dylan was not already here. While I know some parents who actually have written contracts for cell phones, Dave and I just agreed on some boundaries with Dylan. First and foremost, the phone belongs to us. It is our property. At any time we can take the phone for a random phone check. We can (and will) look at messages, photos, apps, and anything else we want. Because after is OUR phone. Over the last 6 months we've had frequent phone checks. Dylan would laugh because he said he was always nervous even though there wasn't anything to be nervous about. And there wasn't.

Skip forward to this week:
I had a feeling. I knew it was time for a phone check. So I went in, said "random phone check" and saw an absolute panic come across my teenagers face. A look that made my stomach sink. I knew this wasn't going to be just an ordinary phone check. And it wasn't.

As a parent blogger, as my kids have grown older I've had to decide what to share and what not. They deserve their privacy. So to protect my son's privacy I'm not going to share his story, but only mine.

My son grabbed me and gave me a hug of somebody who was fighting for his life. I could feel his desperation. As we hugged, everything came out. I knew everything I would find on the phone.

I couldn't think. I wasn't ready. 

I sat and listened. I cried. I didn't let him go. He didn't let me go.
After about a half hour we finally parted and I left with the phone.
As I did the usual phone check, I felt sick.

My son who I had worked so hard to protect had been put in some situations that I did not think he would be in. At least not at 14. Nothing that was earth changing and thankfully nothing that would have consequences beyond embarrassment. To be honest, to some it may not have even been a big deal at all, but to our family it was big enough.

It was parenting showtime. Time to have some more talks. Deeper talks.
So we did.

It's been an awkward week. I know my son is embarrassed and I am sad. We had a couple quiet breakfasts and evenings. But, I didn't let him shut me out. I hugged him. I told him I loved him and that nothing would change that.

As the week has gone by, things are getting back to normal, thankfully. I'm getting my boy back. A little older. A little wiser. But, I'm getting him back. As things have settled I can't help, but think he wanted us to know. He wanted advice. He wanted us to help him. I'm glad that I just knew.

It would have been easier to not look at the phone. It would have been easier to not have the conversations. It would have been easier to just ignore. But, I love my kid too much. 

So for all my friends who are in the same boat with me of parenting teenagers, STAY STRONG! Stay involved. Keep talking. Keep being a parent. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kid Conversations

The radio was playing a song which led to this conversation with Dylan...

Dylan: "Hey, this song is on my iPhone. I never ordered it, but when I got my phone it was already on there. I like it."

Me: "Huh. Who sings it?"

Dylan: "Some band I've never heard of...U2. It's just a 'U' with a number '2'. I actually have a few songs of theirs that was on my iPhone. They're not too bad."

Me: "Oh U2. They've been around for awhile. Pretty popular"

Dylan: "Oh I thought it was a new band or something."

Dare I ask about Paul McCartney?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...