Saturday, October 25, 2014

fall time

fall break.  it was so needed.  it was perfectly perfect, despite the fact that 2/3 of my kids were sick, it was perfect. we were home. we were relaxed. we soaked up the together time and my heart healed.  it was healed by my girls.  it was healed by pajama days.  it was healed by knowing that many other working mommies (particularly teachers) are feeling the same way as i am feeling this year.... a touch overwhelmed to say the least.  it was healed by all things fall time.

this week i was able to go back to work refreshed.  i felt the prayers of so many people.  i know my students' families were praying for me. they told me they were and i felt it on monday morning before i even got there.  i felt it sunday night when i couldn't sleep. i was so in awe by how god took this little "christmas in the fall" called fall break and really restored my soul.  i went back to work after going through a whirlwind of emotions and i saw my students differently.... as what's most important.  i was able to put all things mandated on the back burner and just teach, reflect over their first nine weeks, watch them set goals, and man, i had that tingly feeling reminding me why i love my job so much.  then i was able to come home and play and do the mommy/wife thing with ease.  we even kicked off this weekend with a dessert first kind of night.  

i am feeling so. much. better. 

i am feeling blessed and thankful and my heart is overflowing with this thing called grace that comes from my heavenly father. 

i am thankful for fall time and that special week called fall break that was just what the Doctor ordered.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Pool days are the perfect days.

Summer was perfect.... I mean absolutely perfect.  Don't get me wrong their were days when my kiddos fought nonstop, days when I couldn't get nap times lined up, days when the whining outweighed the laughter but all in all summer was really really good.  I hit my groove on managing life with 3.  My big girls were great playmates to one another, Joss was so cuddly and sweet, and the sunshine outweighed the rain.

But more than anything we had downtime and the downtime was good.  I am always ready for summer but I also love teaching and the start of school but this year has been different- hard- and I'm drowning a bit. But this blog is a place for honesty, for reflecting, and a keepsake of the memories.  I want my girls to look back when they are in their own seasons of mommy hood- and probably being working mommies, if I could guess- and I want them to say wow, our mama did it and it wasn't easy but we can do it too.

 I didn't blog much this summer because I was in the moment with my girls and nap time left me busy with reading good books, playing with Ivy, and sneaking in a mommy nap from time to time.  And then school started.  I wanted to blog about birthdays and first days of school.  I wanted to blog about Ivy and Tula taking gymnastics.  I wanted to write about the two weeks that we weren't looking for a house but found one we loved, put our house on the market, and then it was off again faster than could blink.  But starting school paralyzed me a bit- so here it is, nearly 9 weeks later and my emotions are here in this space. 

Pool nights with Daddy
 School is different- there are the things I love, my students.  Man, I love my students.  They are the coolest group of third graders ever.  We can laugh, we can nearly cry, and we are learning this 3rd grade thing together.  I also teach with some of my best friends and that is something that I love.  You can't beat going to work with your best friends, it makes the days pass quickly and the support system is always present. The actual teaching part- yep, I love that too.  I love teaching kids to love reading.  And now I am teaching them that they are learning so much just from the things they are reading.  I just was grading their personal experience stories and they did a great job.  I love picking out the catchy beginnings or the way they used dialogue just like I taught them to do in my mini-lessons.  So what's not to love?

Everything else.  Teachers are under a new evaluation system and let me be clear- it's TOO much.  We have other new initiatives that are constantly fired at us like rockets one year after another and that also makes me feel beaten down.  Reflect on this, set goals for that, teach this lesson like this, and use this curriculum here, and pull a little of that there.  Make these students grow three years since they are a touch behind, oh and the gifted students- yep challenge them too, but don't make anyone feel average or less than. Oh and the summer slide back- no such thing.  You, teacher, are now responsible for May to May growth- never mind that your students did NOTHING academic for 75ish days.

 Teachers have so much direction given and have lost every ounce of teacher freedom. Teacher freedom- freedom to know what's best for our students- we should have this, right? After all we have a college degree and are forced to get our masters with little reimbursement and complete many hours of professional development each year.  With all that said- I can barely breath. So I am wrestling.

Summer adventures with Nana

I am wrestling to stay afloat for my family.  I come home to three little girls and one precious husband who need me each day.  They need the real me, not the me who can't seem to manage life as a working mom.  I am wrestling to find balance with a career I love and feel like I was very much called to do with having a family which is my first career which I also feel was a high calling from my Maker.  I am wrestling with why me- when I hear about stay at home moms getting to take their kids to daytime music classes, story time, and preschool parties while complaining about their stained yoga pants and how their kids don't sleep. I am wrestling with number crunching- trying again to see if next year I could take the year off.  I am wrestling with insurance and cursing at the fact that my family can't get insured in any affordable fashion other than through my benefits. So I must rest. 

1st day of school and Joss Maven's 1st birthday! 

I have to rest in His plan for my life and stop wrestling.  I know that God put the seed in my heart to teach when I was a little girl and I was even younger when I knew I would be a mommy some day. So I know that these two roles are super important and are bigger than me.  I also know that if there was any way possible and it was His will, I would be able to take a brain break from the education system and soak up these last years of motherhood with young ones at home.  I have to rest in the promise that I will do my best for my students and put the system behind the little people that I lead.  I have to rest in His strength to be it all.  And I have to rest that one day their will be jewels in my crown for trying to be everything for everyone August to May, Monday through Friday, for the next 20 years or so.

So I am surrendering to all the things I am wrestling.... and just letting myself rest.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Birthday Season!

Ivy Camille 
On July 31st my oldest baby girl turned 7!

Some of her current favorites, hopes, and dreams!
Favorite color: turquoise 
Favorite thing to do: draw pictures
Favorite thing in school: science

When she is in 3rd grade.... Wants Mommy to teach her reading
When she grows up.... An art teacher or a baby nurse

What makes her special? Having a July birthday and loving Jesus

She is growing like a weed and sticking to her pattern of growth:
Weight: 44lbs (16%)
Height: 30%

Joss Maven
On August 13th my littlest baby girl turned 1! (Cue the tears!) I am so sad at how fast this year has flown by and can't believe my baby has already celebrated her 1st birthday.

She loves: eating, climbing, paci, bunny, and has in the last month shown a huge interest in joining the Smorstad sister ranks of taking care of baby dolls.

What she doesn't love: being contained.... carseat, highchair, and even the baby swing, many vegetables are now being thrown from her tray,  being woke up from any type of sleep, and having things taken from her.

Her personality:  Loves family.... hugs, kisses, galore! She is also very independent and likes to do everything herself. 

Weight: 22lbs (can't remember % but around 50th)
Height: 30%

 Tula Belle
Then at the end of the birthday season on September 1st, my middle girl, cream of the oreo, turned 4!

It is hard to believe this little thing is 4.  She still seems so young to me.  She still LOVES hard and expresses her dislike just as much.  She is spunky, energetic, opinionated, and at the same time very tenderhearted.

She loves: talking NONSTOP, baby dolls, caring for old people, sucking her thumb (but she has declared she is stopping soon), and sweets of any kind.

She doesn't love: staying in place long, quiet play, when clothes are loose or matching, and being bossed around.

Tula has always been petite but this year we have "fallen off" the growth chart.  We are doing everything in our power to help our very active 4 year old gain weight and go back in 2 months for a weight check.

Weight: 26lbs (0%)
Height: 13%

This year we did one ginormous celebration and surrounded ourselves with friends who are truly like family.  We felt so blessed that the stormy skies cleared just in time to host 50 of those closest to us for a pool party.
 The big girls table!
 Joss getting a visit from sweet Caroline!
 Tula loving her cupcake!
Ivy taking time to smile for a 7 year old picture!
Joss, who LOVES eating, couldn't eat her birthday cake because the song was so frightening. Awww!
The girls were excited to deliver a HUGE tub of food items for our church's backpack ministry with their party donations.  

Birthdays kept us busy for the last 3 months and now we will stop and enjoy our growing girls.  Time really does fly in this season of life and we are hanging onto each of the memories we are making.