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Adventures in Ashburn

What began in France moved to Washington, DC and then the suburbs. Let the adventures in Ashburn continue.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Framing Inside Out

Breakfast this morning was at Duck Donuts in Herndon. RJ claims it was to help give me some inspiration for making my own cake doughnuts at home, but I think he just wanted to see if they were as good as Krispy Kreme (ruling: different kind of doughnut, but definitely closer!).

Today's home adventure: framing all the paintings we rescued from Grandmother's house. 
Don't they look lovely? Two more needed custom mats/frames and should be ready in 3 weeks. It is going to be so challenging to wait to pick a few to hang up until we see them all together!

Then, because that wasn't enough of an adventurous day, we went to go see Inside Out. It was quite good. I tend to think it is more of an older kid to adult appeal, but RJ says it appeals to both differently. 

Now, I have to somehow get in about 6000 steps and make my new FitBit vibrate. Yes, I know it is arbitrary, but totally motivating anyway. 

Off to get my steps!

Love always, Heather


Friday, June 19, 2015

Summer 2015 Goals

This is my first real "teacher's summer". After four years in the classroom, I will finally have almost six weeks of time without required work/classes/surgical recovery or anything else mandatory. Of course, I already signed up to help with volleyball, but I love that and would go through withdrawal without at least some teenager interaction. :)

So, I decided to make a list of all the things I want to do in this seemingly endless amount of time. Then, I went to yoga this morning and after an hour realized that not going to the gym for almost 6 months gets you super out of shape.

Therefore, I am limiting myself to the following things I don't have time for during the school year:

1. Going to the bathroom whenever I want. 
2. Sleeping in until 7 a.m.
3. Wearing jeans or shorts without a sticker that says I "earned" them. 
4. Eating breakfast and lunch over more than 20 minutes. 
5. Using curse words, talking about religion or politics, making adult jokes, and more or less applying the first amendment without checking nearby doors for children. 
6. Leaving the house without looking like a bag lady who is fascinated with notebook paper and odd equipment for experiments. 
7. Doing all of the laundry - not just the stuff I am sure to need this week for some special holiday. 
8. Staying up to watch Jimmy Fallon. (Okay, maybe not. Recording it is just as funny!)
9. Drink water all day long! (See #1)
10. Read - for fun - things written by adults. Or anything really, so long as I can critique them without fear of an email from their parent. (Imagine: Nathaniel Hawthorne's mom online - "What do you mean you thought the opening to A Scarlet letter was boring?"

I do want to have an adventure each day. Something just for me. Today's is getting back into blogging. 

Love always,


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Friday, January 02, 2015

A decade (almost)

As it is officially 2015, and this blog got it's start in 2005, it will be turning ten this year. When I think about the last ten years and how tumultuously, terrifically, different now is than then, it makes me curious about what I'll be writing about ten years from now. However, we can't live in the past and the future is a ways off, so I'm sticking right here. 

Right now, I am getting sweet kisses from Raleigh. 

Upstairs, RJ is taking a nap with HGTV on in the background (recovering from gallbladder surgery and pneumonia). 

I'm thinking about resolutions while I type my first blogpost from my phone (both odd and behind the times?). 

My only goal this year is to end the year grateful and happy for the year that passed. Of course, any good goal should have some sub goals; so let's call those my resolutions. 

1. Focus on saving more so we can travel more. 

The cruise last summer was relaxing - as were visits to family. But we have a lot more family, friends, national parks, and countries on our bucket list. 

2. Find even more ways to like my job. 

Making the course packs this year and having the students write letters to scientists was awesome and already more successful than I imagined. It's time to not just hone in on making those great, but adding to the ways that will make science education exciting. 

3. Donate, upcycle, and/or recycle more stuff than we "get" this year.  

We already recycle more each week than we throw in the trash (about 50% more!), but that can go beyond packaging and grocery related items to clothing, books, movies, and all the random stuff. 

4. Have more parties. 

There was a time when I was hosting some kind of social gathering at home two or three times a month. Socializing with friends is incredibly important; it takes a village to be a grown up too!

5. Remember (daily?) that me time is not a waste of time. 

I love creating magnificent meals, but dread the time it takes to cook and clean up so much I talk myself out of it. I pretend (that's what it is!) that I don't have time to take a walk or sit on a park bench or just play MarioKart until I blast my records. I avoid cleaning up the house and putting away laundry. But, the fact is, spending time on things for me is good for my whole family. And while dishes aren't really a thing for me, a clean sink is, and clothes in a closet make it easier to get ready for work, and yoga on Thursday nights makes the weekend more relaxing, and even science says sitting on a park bench for ten minutes a day will lower your blood pressure. Grading papers, checking email, skimming Facebook, watching reruns of TV I don't like are a waste if I don't end smiling. 

6. Give more rubs. 

At least that's what Raleigh would type if he had thumbs. :)

Happy New Year!

Love always, Heather

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Saturday, July 05, 2014

Summer To-Do List

As I sit here on this gorgeous Saturday avoiding the sun (details on that in a moment), it occurs to me that summer is quickly slipping through my fingers and I have only accomplished one of my big ticket items for the summer! To prioritize my time, I thought I'd make a list of the remaining things I'd like to accomplish.

  • Clean out the two spare room closets to get everything into one closet (with room to spare). Goodness knows I do not need probably more than a quarter of the items in there.
  • Sell the random items that are actually still worth something at a garage sale or online to earn $1750. That's a random numeric goal, but I think it is fairly attainable.
  • Finish putting pictures in all the frames on the stairwell.
  • Clean out my bedroom closet so as to no longer have a wide assortment of clothing that doesn't fit or I don't wear clogging it up.
  • Use the VHS to DVD converter to complete the transition to DVD home videos.
  • Donate as much of the clothing, old VHS tapes, books, and sundries as possible.
  • Complete the first of two blog-to-book projects.
  • Spend five minutes each day with God alone.
  • Actually learn physics in a respectable enough way that I know some level of higher physics than what I teach my 8th graders.
  • Lose 20 pounds. I lost over 50 pounds between last June and last October, only gaining about ten back during surgery recovery in March, so feeling confident about this fitness goal.
  • Be able to keep up with the girls on core workouts. I'm restricting myself to the core here, because last summer I truly had to face the fact that despite whatever brilliant plans I had, I am almost or literally double some of their ages. They can keep sprinting faster than me; it's respectable that I finish at all.
  • Read two books a week; including some nonfiction.
  • Sleep 8 hours a night or until I wake up naturally, whichever is more appropriate for the day's itinerary.
  • Save up the gas and eating out money associated with my full-time job to pad the savings account to a respectable amount.
  • Enjoy planned vacations with no guilt about the fact that some of these things aren't finished yet.

I'll make my goal end-date Labor Day weekend, though I officially go back to work before then for professional development, coaching responsibilities, and other training. I think these goals are going to help me stay physically, mentally, financially, intellectually, and spiritually healthy this summer.

Why the sudden slide into being a total-self health nut? Well, the same reason I'm avoiding the sun. Last June, I went to the doctor for a little help losing weight - knowing it was important for my long term well-being. During a scan, they spotted some suspicious nodules in my thyroid that after a few months of biopsies and a surgery at Johns Hopkins turned out to be - incredibly small - cancer masses. I had the rest of my thyroid taken out at the end of June this year as a prophylactic measure to make sure the cancer could not recur and potentially spread.

After getting the all clear from the surgeon with tons of encouragement that it was really over, and it hadn't spread and really couldn't (since it is in a medical waste center somewhere, and not my neck); I am relieved. I am grateful for the prayers and love everyone has given me. I am so lucky that my doctor decided to be aggressive about such small spots instead of just letting it go for another year until I might get another scan. I feel blessed by God to have survived this with the help of my incredible husband and the few others I told. And I also feel like staying healthy. I am motivated to be as healthy as is reasonably possible for someone who truly hates running for the sake of running and loves cake.

I am happy - elated! - and blessed to be as healthy as I am today. If all I do this summer is maintain that, I'll have done my job.

Love always, ~Heather

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Friday, May 30, 2014

Note to Future Self

Dear Future Self,

Hello there! Do you still remember when you had crazy curly hair, drove an adorable Focus, and were making an inordinate amount of rice noodle dinners? Anyway, that's the time frame we're talking about from here.

This is also roughly the end of your third year teaching in the States. You just got your SOL test results back and they were pretty good. Some of the classes even earned fun prizes! Here's where I want you to take note....

If you ever feel like, as a parent, you have the right to undermine a teacher and the overall school test results by having your sweet, little spawn not take the SOL then you darn well better be ready to deal with the consequences. Especially if your child is sort of prickish (which, if a teacher or series of other adults tell you, you'd do well to believe) and has been boasting about how he doesn't have to take the tests to anyone and everyone who will listen. When the teacher says they don't get to enjoy the class prize, suck it up and realize you did something super stupid.

That's right, Future Self, as a parent you will have the right to do a LOT of things. However, they will NOT all be in the best interest of your children. Think things through. Recognize potential consequences. Forgive yourself if you miss one or two and make a mistake, but don't make the same mistake twice.

Your kid(s) are resilient. They are strong. They are in some (many?) ways like you and RJ. They will survive some stress, disappointment, or other unpleasant events. Be there for them. Understand when they go to another reasonable adult instead of you (they are teenagers). Try desperately to not under or over estimate them.

You're probably doing just fine; but a little reminder from Current Me is sitting here waiting just in case. Good luck. I have no idea how splendid or rough it is for you right now, but don't forget you've always wanted to change the world and revolutionize education. Oh, and make more rice noodles. So good. :)

Love always, (2014) Heather

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