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Ms. Jess

Ava started going to religious education (to me that’s a fancy way of saying “catechism”) two years ago. I used to sit in her class with her weekly so the next year, I figured, why not make myself useful? I signed up as a helper.

That went well and a few times I was a pinch hitter and filled in when the lead teacher was out of town or couldn’t make it to class. She put together the curriculum and basically we worked directly out of the teacher’s edition.

Then she left and I decided, sure why not? I can teach. By myself. As a lead. I know. Me and my ideas.

And that’s how Ms. Jess the Kinder catechism teacher was born.

The first week was a hot mess. At least I thought so. This week though, I gotta say it was pretty awesome. I spent a ton of time on Pinterest trying to figure out what I wanted to do that would be fun for the kids and eat some time. A spent bit of time on Saturday cutting and pasting and getting ready for class. This is what I came up with.

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I was pretty proud of myself because my kids thought it was awesome. Hearing them say it was cool was even better.

It got me thinking though that my wee bit of teaching for an hour on Sunday is nothing compared to what teachers do for our kids all week. The time they put in. The money. People think teaching is the best gig because teachers “work 9 months a year and get to go home at 3:30.” Yeah no.

I remember my mom spending tons of time prepping. I remember her setting up her class (and I remember having to break it down when she moved classes and had to quit teaching). I remember when she was student teaching my dad, brother and I went to her pre-k classroom and decked it out in a Hawaiian theme. Why I remember that, I have no clue. I just know that we were there at night and using stuff she had bought to work on the project.

Teachers don’t make big bucks either. But the amount of money they put in is a lot. Ava’s teacher bought a bunch of extra supplies for kids that may not have everything covered. They buy prizes, incentives, decorations, workbooks. You name it, they make sure they have it.  The majority of Ava and Allie’s library came from my mom’s classroom.

Anyway, the point of this is: thank your kid’s teacher. Often. Every now and again ask if there’s anything they need for the classroom and offer to send it in.

Send in a “hey you’re awesome gift” every once in a while–nothing fancy, maybe just a coffee thermos and some Starbucks Via instant packets.  Maybe just a bunch of flowers from the grocery store or a pastry for breakfast.  It doesn’t have to be expensive, even a note from you or your kid just saying how much you appreciate the work they do.

Volunteer at school if you can.  Any time you can donate helps to offset time they could be using for something else, even office staff.

Just know, teaching is far from a 9-3 job.

Football!

I went to a small high school for students wanting to pursue a career in the medical field. I am clearly not a doctor. Not sure what happened there, but it was a great school so it worked out, and I learned a few things along the way. And I know how to take blood pressure.

Since we were so small, we shared our campus with another high school and piggy-backed extracurriculars. I was a flag girl in band, did a brief stint on the tennis team (yikes), and I played on the golf team.

Some parents went to football games, but I can honestly say I don’t remember a ton being there. But in high school, you’re focus is far from parents in the stands, duh. My parents went to my games to watch me on the field,  but I don’t think a lot parents did that. Thanks mom and dad. There were no band boosters making fancy buttons with ribbons saying “My kid is in the Band” or shirts saying “Cheer Mom.”  It wasn’t like that.

Last weekend we went to a small “hometown” high school football game.

Parents were everywhere. There were all types of sassy “My kid is a Dancer and I’m just as Hot” shirts (I made that up, but you get the gist). 

There was the band, the cheer squad and the ginormous dance team. A 50 member dance troop. I’d never seen such a thing until college. These girls were made up like dolls and pulled out the makeup just before halftime to make sure they stayed that way. Allie tried to copy their cheers from the stands.

Everyone was so proud of their team, their kids. They had a fight song with words! My cousins went to that high school and sang along with hooked pinkies. I had never seen a fight song till we visited my sister in law at Texas A&M (THAT was cool).

It was so much fun. The girls had a blast and so did we.

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Of course, college football is in full effect. I’m sporting my SMU Mustangs t-shirt today. I love working at an office where I can dress like this. I have to buck the system and wear something that isn’t burnt orange around here. Last week it was my blue and green in prep of the Notre Dame v. Michigan game (last game of the historic series).

Don’t ask me who SMU plays this weekend, because I have no clue without looking it up, plus they’ll probably lose anyway.  Truth.  I do know that June Jones (their former head football coach) has resigned so maybe now their interim head football coach can give them a better shot at scoring at least a few points and not being outscored 88 points in 2 games.  To be fair, one game was against Baylor who is a top ranked team.  Poor ponies.

Another confession? I never went to a SMU football game during my 3 years of law school.  Um…or the 4 years that I lived in Dallas after that.

I can tell you that Notre Dame plays Purdue tomorrow and that they SHUT OUT Michigan last weekend. Sorry Andrea. Good job Michigan for giving it the good old college try.

If the atmosphere was awesome at this little high school football game, I can’t even wait to see what the stadium is gonna be like at Notre Dame when we head up there. All I know is we’ll be looking to Touchdown Jesus and praying to Our Lady of Victory that weekend!

 

*Disclaimer: I do not actually know much about football. Without instant replay, I’d be in trouble. I have to pay really close attention and know just a few things: horse collar, false start, delay of game. Yeah still learning. I know just enough to make it sound like I know something. But I’m learning! Might as well be able to do something besides go to a game just to eat nachos and eat candy.

Fall Bug

As of August 25 or something, Starbucks sent out an announcement that made pumpkin (and fall) lovers everywhere squeal with delight.

Despite their attempt at being cute by saying “Ehrmergourd” in their email (just no), and the attempt at making you feel like you were in a top secret club by giving the top secret “code” to get the barista to share the goods (they’d probably laugh), fall officially arrived in the Starbucks loving suburban world.

It’s here. The PSL. Pumpkin. Spice. Latte.

But then there was that one blogger who tried to poo all over it by saying *GASP* there’s no pumpkin in this latte! Um, ok, you’re surprised? And food coloring, bad chemicals, the usual. Words words words.

Regardless, I had my first PSL of the season on Saturday (8/30) and I have no shame in saying it. It was damn good, too. Picture it: sipping a latte, pjs, cinnamon rolls, and College Gameday. Yessssssss. That’s the picture of fall.

IMG_0136I’m pretty sure I’m having J climb up into the attic this weekend to bring down my fall box(es). Last year I wasn’t in the zone and I didn’t get a single thing put up. Nope, not this year. It’s on. Maybe I’ll even decorate the office. Might as well pretty up the place I’m holed up for 8 hours a day.

Crank the OneRepublic, pour the PSL and add in the perfect decor and it’s like my office will be a cozy little nook of productivity or something. *heh*

Maybe I’ll even craft up one of these babies, because I’ve come back to the world of Pinterest. Exhausting days at work require mindless zone out time in the evening. One can’t watch Gypsy Sisters every night, you know.

Minus the initial, of course, because I’m weird about that stuff.

The ballet semester is starting up again. Both of the girls are ready to get back to class.

There is college football to be watched. High school football games to attend.

Most importantly and most exciting for us, we’ve got a Notre Dame football game ahead of us. IN SOUTH BEND. Ahhhhhh!!!! Cam McDaniel (Texas boy) and Coach Brian Kelly. Eeeeek!

So yeah, I’ve got the fall bug. If you see a girl in jeans and a scarf, it’s me. Because my office is 60 degrees. Yeah, that’s it.

First Monday

The first day of school brings grand ideas of fresh baked banana muffins for breakfast (we did have those) as we get ready to walk out the door early to avoid the back to school crowds so that we can settle in to the new desk and visit with friends in the hallways.

But there’s the sleepyhead toddler getting used to first day of the new school year’s wake up call.

And then. And then. And then.

You get to school where all the rest of the neighborhood is walking in their kids so you have to park nearly a quarter mile from school (or close to it) in makeup and work clothes with a 30 lb weight on your side. It’s steamy in Texas. There was sweat.  Thank goodness for air conditioning.

Drop off is a success. First day of school picture is taken.

Then on the way back, a kid escaping from school- or something- runs you down (the whole back of your leg) with his bike. Literally. He doesn’t stain your pants at least. Phew.

But then traffic is great-especially for the first day of school. And a Monday.

And you come in to find something that leaves you with a smile. The elusive Jess coke that you’ve been chasing all over with a happy note to start the day. It’s the little things that bring the happy.

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Week in Review

The week is done and tomorrow starts third grade for Ava. Allie’s new year doesn’t start till next week.

Last week was a short one. I had a day of work then we went on a mini vacay after lots of procrastinating and lots of indecisiveness about where we would end up. Literally a few days before we left, and two reservations in two cities later, we finally figured it out.

Houston.

More on that later I’m tired and as expected, it was only mildly relaxing in the evenings but the kids had a blast, so that’s what matters.

1) Gypsy Sisters is back. It’s an embarrassingly trashy show (super bad) on TLC. Love that show. Sometimes you just need to indulge. Even if it’s in 5 minute spurts when no one is around.

2) So is Dallas! I know this sounds like I’m a couch potato, but really these are the only two shows that are worth my time on the DVR. But seriously, DALLAS. John Ross. Christopher. Sue Ellen!

3) Manziel got fined for his incredibly immature and unsportsmanlike move against the Redskins. In case you didn’t catch it before they censored it, he flipped them off. Winner. Then he got sacked by Michael Sam (Chargers) who then did Manziel’s signature “money fingers”. Ha! Two wrongs don’t make a right, but that dude is just a tool.

4) OneRepublic. We saw them last night at Circuit of the Americas. (Date night!)

IMG_0130Holy. Krrrrrrrraaaaap. Oh. My. Gooooosssshhh. Seriously. If that’s not enough to express my amazement of how awesome they were in concert? I think I have … Downgraded John Mayer. Gasp!!! At least for concert. He’s still a song writing and guitar playing genius.

Seriously. Two songs in and I had already dubbed it best concert ever. The cello, piano, the violin. Mind blowing. It was all so gorgeous. Ryan Tedder (lead) has a voice like nothing else. The entire band just all sang so well in harmony and they all sound amazing. They need a live album like yesterday.

“Counting Stars” was as awesome as you could imagine. Even better? When the song was winding down, Ryan ran RIGHT next to us as he headed up the stairs to the upper level. Whoooooa there was even more screaming than there already was. I gave the teen girl next to me a run for her money.

Allie and I have jammed to this song in the car no less than 15 times. Not even kidding. And we’ve only been in the car twice. She has been requesting “Baby” since I played it this morning. It’s a “happy” song. She’s my music buddy.

If they come to your city, GO.

Christina Perri opened and she was fantastic! It blew me away what a strong voice came out of a tiny person. And yes, she has a lot of upbeat songs and we heard more than “Jar of Hearts.”

Me + live music = super happy. Totally good way to kick off the week.

Needless to say, this day before the new year has been the epitome of lazy relaxation. Just what we needed.

34.

Another year has come and gone. I’m now 34.  Yup, my birthday was last Tuesday. I generally like to go under the radar for birthdays.

I got my driver’s license renewed and already got it back in the mail. The picture is fine enough but it looks like a selfie because they couldn’t get the lighting to DPS specifications and kept making me move closer. Dear officer, I promise it’s not a fake.

I’m one year closer to the 40th birthday bash I decided I’m throwing myself at Disney World. No kids allowed.  Or something, at least that’s what’s in my head for now. Maybe I’ll grow up and pick someplace grown ups go. Or not. In true Jess fashion I’ll park hop and hit downtown Disney. Yay!

But seriously.

For me, birthdays have never been about parties. Well, except for the awesome quinceañera I had when I turned 15. That’s a huge deal when you’re in high school. My parents were awesome enough to throw me one.

As I’ve gotten older I think birthdays have become less and less about making a big to do.

Birthdays are a chance to stop and think about all the blessings in life. To look around you at the people and places in your life and be grateful.

They’re a chance for you to look to your parents and say THANKS.

They’re a chance for my girls to get to celebrate me, and I love the homemade and hand picked cards.

Looking around, things are pretty awesome in my world and I’m really thankful.

Bangarang.

What a shock. Robin Williams is gone. He died.

Scratch that. He didn’t die. He killed himself. There’s a difference. A sad one. {it’s an uncomfortable thing to read that, isn’t it? Killing oneself vs dying?}

I think it’s safe to say that at some point in our lives we’ve all been Robin Williams fans. “Aladdin” did it for me. Ava just got into “Hook” and thought it was pretty cool. “Bangarang!” is all I can think as the thoughts swirl about this loss.

Robin Williams had a talent that was truly a gift. He also had demons that only he knew.

This is the part that is just so sad. This is an illness. This is the part where real life steps in to break down the glittery glamour of Hollywood and reminds everyone that this is real life.

What happened? I have no idea.

All I can think is he must have been in the kind of deep dark hole that tells you that there is no ladder out, no search party coming in, and no point in bothering to cry for help.

Depression is the lie that keeps the brightest light from seeing the light beaming around him, even when everyone tries to prove to him that it’s true.

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No one saw this coming. Not the public, anyway, but maybe not those near him either. Why? Because someone with depression works damn hard to hide behind a facade to keep the world from knowing the truth. To fend off the stigma.

Smile through the dark clouds.

Go through the motions.

Conceal don’t feel. (She’s right.)

I hid for a long time. Scared of what people would say. Embarrassed of what they would think.

Depression.

I. Was. Depressed.

Thankfully I never wanted to hurt myself. I never had the demons Robin Williams and many other people struggle with. I’m thankful I had have support from people who love me and the resources around me to kick my way out to the other side.

Robin Williams had love and a plethora of resources. But he still lost the battle he fought most of his life. He had reasons to keep fighting. But he didn’t.

Why? Who knows.

What about the ones who are fighting but don’t have anything? That’s a discussion about a flawed system for another day.

I won’t get too high on the horse but I will leave you with this reminder:

Everyone fights their own battles. They’re not displayed like battle scars for all to see. Some are still fighting.

Be gentle.

Be kind.

Bangarang.

Oh hi! It’s me.

Oh hello, remember me? I’m the girl who sometimes blogs around here but not really because I’m kind of on a social media fast.  Not really banning it just not really into it right now.  I check in on Facebook because, well, I get bored. But I haven’t been around much. And that’s ok.  But mostly because I haven’t really had much of anything to say. So why say anything at all, huh?  Pretty boring, this girl.

*****

I finally finished reading the Steve Jobs’ biography. I’m entranced. Such and amazing book and such an amazing man. The way he revolutionized computers and personal computing devices. iDevices. He made that stuff happen.  He didn’t invent it all, but he pushed the people that made it happen.  He wasn’t a nice guy, but wow.  What a genius.  Needless to say, I was an Apple girl before, but now I’m for sure never, ever going back.  And also I want to go to the Apple Store in Cupertino, California.

Also as a side note, John Mayer is discussed in the book. He’s one of the only people Steve (we’re on a first name basis) talks about EVER that is not actually relevant to the development of his devices and it was freaking awesome. He’s in the index even. Yes, I’m a nerd, I looked. JOHN MAYER. 

Now I’m back to big kid books and I’m reading Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in New China.

*****

The summer is almost over.  And vacation is still not planned. HA!  Procrastinators much?  Add in the fact that the week we want to travel is turning into the busiest week ever and this is not turning into a good combination. Perhaps maybe a mini vacation plus a long weekend later in the fall when we’re all off.

*****

Can I just say that despite the fact that this is probably one of the most mild summers in YEARS, including the year when we brought Allie home and we moved into our house and it was about 110 degrees everyday for like all summer, I’m still ready FALL.  For October. November.

Football.  Cool weather. Long sleeves.  SCARVES (I blame my love for scarves on Heather). Jeans without sweating (I wear jeans year round so this would be awesome). The smell of wood burning in a fireplace in the cold night air while out on a chilly evening run.

*****

Back to school is in full effect. Ava has found out who her teacher is and we’ve already gotten back to school supplies. (Holy moly, the older you get the more expensive your school supplies get.) She’s like me, I LOVE pens and papers and all that stuff.

I wish I could go back to school. I think I would go back and work harder than I did. But then again, that’s all retrospect. It would be neat to get another degree.  Although no clue in what.  It would be awesome to go to medical school. But there’s the itty bitty problem of math. Which is not so very fun.

*****

 

Oh, and by the way, my awesome friend Deb featured me on her blog.  Even though I’m in a black hole of barely blogging.  I think she’s awesome and such a no nonsense, non-censored blogger.  And not just because she featured me.  If you wanna read where I lay it all out, here’s the link.

“My Best”

Being a parent is tough business. Duh.

I don’t feel like I’m half the parent mine were. Somehow I feel like I get more easily frustrated. Like I grow weary more easily. Like it’s harder.  Somehow they made it look easier.

As a parent (or maybe me) it’s something I work hard to fight constantly.  Hard to balance not letting things slide but letting the right things slide.  Not letting buttons get pressed and letting things roll off your back no matter how annoying because they’re just being kids.

Sometimes the day is beating you down and you feel like you’re just not doing it right.

And then at the end of the day you’re bathing the little one when she turns to you out of the blue and says, “You’re the best mom. You make me happy. I love you.”

And you melt because she’s never said anything like that. No matter what happened that evening or that day or yesterday or ever mattered because she still loves you.

Mornings are hectic and days are fraught with guilt for rushing them out the door and sad faces from stressing everyone out.  But pick ups are always filled with happy faces and love.  And knowing I’m still they’re best.

That’s some serious love. Must be doing something right.

Thank God.

In summmmmmerr

One of my most favorite things going up was going on vacation with my parents. No matter what, we always went somewhere.  Looking back, as a parent myself, I realize now what a sacrifice that must have been for them.  The money, the time, the crazy kids.  THANKS DAD.

Growing up my parents always took us to places where we went exploring and seeing new things.  We went to museums.  We explored caverns. WE WENT TO DISNEY WORLD AND DISNEYLAND OMG I blame them for my obsession.

Ava’s been asking to go on vacation.  She’s at a summer school camp and slowly all of her friends have been coming and going. Slowly but surely one by one they’ve been sneaking off to vacation. All but her.  #firstworldproblems

We’re working on a plan, but living in a state the size of Texas (it would probably take as much time to get from El Paso to California as it does to get from El Paso to the tip eastern tip of Texas) it takes forever to get places. This is not so conducive to road trips less than 5 hours.

There are quite a few options, but narrowing them down is hard.  

We’re not really sit at the pool and sip drinks kind of folks. I never have been.  Maybe for quick weekends, but we’d like to get away for a few days. Hopefully. Plans and actualities are always two different things.

Plus, taking Allie out can be a wee bit… like wrangling a cat… she’s got “spunk” that one.  She just doesn’t like staying in one place. Like mom.

Back to vacay, I did learn that I love the beach. I swore I wasn’t a beach person. The idea of sitting and watching water sounded like such a waste of time. (yes, I never slow down. Ever.)  Until we went. The waves.  The smells.  Awesome. (Texas beaches –without seaweed– don’t stink).  Running on the beach. Picking up shells. Playing  in the sand.  Love it.

Unfortunately, the beaches around here are kinda yuck right now. Did you know there’s a massive seaweed infestation attacking the local beaches? Gross. You can even see it from space.  Boo.

Anyway, it’s not about the specific place for her.  Or for us. It’s about the memories of being together and going out and doing things. It may be a day trip excursion or a weekend getaway that’s a 3 hour drive from home, but I know it’ll be fun because we’ll be together. It’ll be a new adventure.

I want Ava (and Allie even though she’s 3 because I KNOW she remembers her first trip to Disney) to look back and remember the trips taken with mom and dad.  I want them to get older and smile when they think about their trip to [fill in the blank] in the summer of 2014.

So yeah. That’s what I’m working on.

Happy summer.