Friday, October 28, 2011

jennie took pics

i did not.
to see some from lani's night last night.
go to her blog HERE.
they are so cute.
so lani.

fun stuff!

last night was so fun!
i had 12 conferences. i lost my voice.
but then paul picked me up with all the kids (+1) in tow and we headed to incredible pizza to celebrate lani.
it was a great time.
by the time we got home the kids were beat and they went to bed pretty quickly.
then paul and i watched the MOST amazing cardinals game.
there may have been texting and facebooking and screaming and jumping going on during the whole thing.
not to mention laughing and jumping into paul's arms while he swung me around in circles when it was finally over.
at one point i tried to wake up brigg but he was way too tired. i was so disappointed.(i am not the best mom ever, but fun!)
it was a great time.

and TODAY is going to be great, too!
no school.
lisa and i planned to meet with lani and macy to celebrate their birthdays together.
you may remember the story of lani and macy. if not, you can read about it HERE.
what a special time in our lives.
what a special relationship they have.
so thankful we get this day together just the 4 of us. it's going to be awesome.

so i am off this morning. lots to do before we head out.
my cup runneth over....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

8 is great.

At least that holds true for Lani.
Today she turns 8.
And I tell you what...this child is beyond great.
What a blessing she is to us.
Patient. Kind. Generous. Compassionate. Humble. Not confident. Compliant. Shy. Sweet.
Sometimes I wonder how she came from my womb. :)
(fyi...i ordered the above photo in an 8x12 canvas for her birthday. she loves bridgette. can't wait to give this to her!)

But I'm SO thankful she did.
Eight years ago God gave me a girl.
I didn't ask for one.
I thought I'd end up with all boys.
The night I went into labor I asked for the "blue room" because I was sure boy number 2 was about to arrive.
And then our little Nalani showed up.
And I turned to Paul with tears in my eyes and literally said, "I didn't know I wanted a girl!"
I remember it like it was yesterday.
And honestly, I remember nearly every second of Lani's first few months of life like they were yesterday.
It was a rough transition for us. Add in 6 surgeries in 12 months and you had one stressed out momma.
But man, Lani was and EASY baby.
An EASY toddler.
And now and EASY child.
Our calm before the storm, some might say. :)
(more on our storm on HER birthday...)
Last night as I sat there thinking about Nalani in all her sweetness, I was overcome with emotion.
Gosh, God knew what we needed.
And our sweet little baby turned out to be a perfect mix of sweet and strong.
Compliant and determined.
Quiet and witty.
Compassionate and brave.
She is incredible.
And I love her with all that I am.
As she turns 8, I pray that her confidence grows and she fully recognizes her God-given gifts.
I pray that she continues to be sure in who she is and what she believes. That her faith grows and her worries disappear. That as she matures, she learns to hand over those fears to the one who created her and loves her even more than I do.
Thank you God for Nalani Alma. For her sweet, generous, compassionate, funny heart. Thank you for picking us to be her parents. Thank you for hearing my prayers for all boys and saying "Nope." Our lives are so much better because of Lani Lou.
Happy birthday Lou Bug. We love you so so much....

Monday, October 24, 2011

This week

Lani's birthday.
on top of...
piano lessons, basketball practice, and a home inspection.
but no school on friday.
and honestly, i'm super nervous about conferences.

Monday, October 17, 2011

500 women

i HAVE to share this with you!
The Adventure Project is at it again. Upping the stakes. Still working towards the goal of hiring 500 women.
As of tonight there are 147 covered.
We are looking for people to step up and sponsor the rest this month.
There are only 2 weeks left.
I believe we can do it!
$120 for health care training classes and $42 for a uniform and tote.
I am pumped!
I cannot wait to receive our photo next year of the woman who was hired because of our one time donation.
You, too, can help.
Go HERE to check it out!

god must have known...

i was going to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day today.
that is why this weekend was so awesome.
i needed it to get me through today.
i'm exhausted.
and as a friend said "the highs are really high and the lows are really low". (or something like that!)
and that is truth.
hoping tomorrow is really high.
because i can't take another one like today that soon.
night blog world....

Sunday, October 16, 2011


in a nutshell...

perfect pic capturing how i felt most of the day.
for more images, check out jennie's blog.
fun fun stuff.
not really ready for the weekend to end...but what's new??!!

Really amazing weekend...

spent tailgating in iowa city with so many people i love.
it was perfect.
not to mention luke and i were baggo champions.
there may or may not have been some very very bad sportsmanship from the winners.
forgive us. :)
neighborhood gathered in our yard after church this morning and helped cut down a tree.
(have i mentioned i LOVE our new church? yeah...i do. just keeps getting better.)
not sure how we managed for find the absolute perfect neighborhood, but we did.
so refreshed today.
i almost feel ready for another work week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"so, how's it going?"

"We must see that every child has equal opportunity, not to become equal, but to become different--to realize the unique potential he or she possesses." (john fischer)

i came across a book the other day as i was cleaning out a closet. (i'll be throwing in some quotes throughout this post that i love from it).
i got it when i graduated from UNI with my teaching degree.
at the time it was just a cute little book to add to my collection.
i don't think i even opened it.
i assume if i had started teaching right out of college, it would have sat on my shelf and collected dust.
instead, it got packed away in one of my tubs labeled "TEACHING STUFF".
there was a time when i thought i just might not ever open those tubs.
i thought my teaching career would never happen.
but here we are, 10 years later, and i was wrong.
thank goodness!
i pulled this little book out last night and started reading.
let me tell you...those words of wisdom and quotes mean so much more now than they would have 10 years ago.
after a rough week and days of feeling like a failure, they hit home.

"Whenever a pupil has spoken disrespectfully to a teacher and the teacher can say with truth, 'Do I not always speak politely to you?' the case is won without any more argument." (fanny jackson coppin)

"In discipline, whatever generates hate must be avoided. Whatever creates self-esteem is to be fostered." (Haim Ginott)

"Good discipline is a series of little victories in which a teacher, through small decencies , reaches a child's heart." (Haim Ginott)

you want the truth here?
this is HARD.
it is really hard.
i love deeply. i feel deeply. i am emotional. i am relational.
i am not in this for the paycheck.
i cry when i read "Where the Red Fern Grows".
i choke back sobs when a student who struggles terribly in math gets a 100% on a quiz and quickly offers to help another student who is struggling.
i start chanting "they are getting it! they are getting it!" over and over when i am checking papers at home and they are all scoring well.
i have dreams about them.
i worry about them over the weekend.

but honestly, about every sunday night i still am not ready for monday morning to come.
it's just a tension.
mommy guilt.
loving 23 kids deeply.
wanting to be able to volunteer in my own kids' schools.
wanting to play a role in the future of 23 others.
it's hard.

"The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck." (gosh i love ralph waldo emerson)

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." (and helen keller was an unbelievable soul!)

so in all's going well.
a friend told me the other day that her sister asked how i was liking it.
she said, "i think she loves it. but it's not easy."
she knows.
i tell her. :)
and that's the truth.
i knew it wouldn't be easy. i knew there would be good and bad days.
but i didn't realize how deep i would feel those successes and failures.
both mine and my students.
it's like becoming a parent for the first time.
people tell you that you have no idea how much you will love your child.
and you know it's true, but they are
and then it happens.
and your eyes are opened to a whole new world.
that is teaching for me.
it runs deep. and strong.
i love it.
but's hard.

and i made it through another week.
hello friday.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker." (more helen keller)

"We teach who we are." (John Gardener) ...and this my friends, could be scary. not easy. i feel such a deep responsibility right in this spot. deep.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

12 year later...

We will celebrate 12 years of marriage tomorrow.
Doesn't seem possible.
And what I didn't expect 12 years ago was that our relationship would be this much better today.
Didn't think it was possible.
So we left a screaming ayla (hello mommy guilt), and a dog chasing after our car this morning to sneak away for 24 hours.
We are excited.
And so thankful for our many blessings.
Happy anniversary Paul.
Love you with all my heart.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Settling in...

i feel like i am settling in.
not just at home with the new schedule.
but also with my students. and my co-workers. and the parents.
things seem to be starting to click.
i love it.
it's getting to the point where my students are starting to "get" me.
i'm figuring out what will work with some of the more challenging students.
i emailed my principal tonight and said
"i think i'm making progress. but geez...this is hard work! :)
(oh...and i love it.)"
and it IS.
really hard.
but i am totally in love with figuring them out.
who knew i'd love that part?
when i am working one-on-one with a student talking through a conflict and i can see them shut down, i find such satisfaction in knowing how to pull them out of it.
i think it's a sign that our relationships are growing and getting stronger.
i love "The Leader in Me" program our district is using. it works. i swear it does.
i love that i can ask them if the language they used was proactive or reactive and they know the answer. i love that i can say, "You have the freedom to choose. But what happens if you choose not to pause and think about how you are going to respond and you end up responding REactively instead?"
and they can give me an answer.
and they are ready to come up with consequences for their actions.
and they know i am hearing them and not REacting myself.
i love it all.
i LOVE it when they "get" a concept after days of not fully understanding.
i love it when they all pass a test or get homework turned in.
i love working with my push-in teachers to come up with new ideas that allow the kids to stay in my classroom during math.
i love differentiating.
it makes me beyond happy to be teaching a lesson while my ELP students are working diligently on the ALEKS program on the computers in my room and my special ed teacher is working with students at a table in the back to help them with the concept and kids are coming up and working on the smart board and explaining to their peers how they came up with an answer.
seriously amazing moments mixed in with crazy, frustrating, disappointing moments as well.
but the scale is starting to tip towards many more positive, productive, giddy moments.
oh...and i love that my students bring me the MOVES LIKE JAGGER cd to borrow. :)
that's awesome.
wow...i think i'm hitting my sweet spot.
and did i mention i love it?

Stay hungry...Stay foolish

Wanted this here for future reference.
I will watch it again.
And again.
Amazing man. Amazing life.
Stay hungry...Stay foolish.

Monday, October 3, 2011


love playing with my mac book. :)
looks like i'll be grading papers tonight.
what's new?
paul has an inspection.
it's GORGEOUS out.
i'm sure the kids will be playing.
ayla has started saying random words. what i ask what she said, she'll say it in normal language and then say. MOM...that was in SPANish.
not sure where she's learning this spanish. but her teacher STINKS.
some fun stuff coming up...
this weekend paul and i are sneaking away for 24 hours.
we need it.
12 years to celebrate!!
ayla turns 4 in november. she's the last of our children that we haven't gotten away with one-on-one. so we have planned a big trip for her! she knows about it and asks about it
we got train tickets to chicago for the 3 of us.
one night in a hotel and plans to hit the american girl store.
i'm so happy that she's so pumped about it.
i was afraid she was still a little young, but i was wrong.
every night at bedtime i lay down with her and she touches my cheek and says, "Mom, let's talk about what the train ride is going to be like!"
so fun.
can't wait!
and thank goodness for aunt jennie!!! what would we do without her?!?
oh...and oct 15th we are hitting our once-a-year hawkeye football game with all the burback siblings and this year jennie and sean, too.
good times, no doubt!
lots of fun stuff coming up.
and can the weather just stay this temperature forever??

Sunday, October 2, 2011


we are here! we are alive! i am posting from my mac book, so i don't have many photos on here. but i downloaded a couple for your viewing pleasure. :)
wow...busy busy busy.
made it through midterms. barely.
and things are really starting to settle at school. i am getting the hang of things. our schedule flows nicely. i still love the kids. and i have a feeling most of them love me, too. :)
we are going through an unexpected bathroom gut right now.
frustrating, but necessary.
so paul and my bathroom is tore up. all the way down to the studs.
i've been scouring the internet for ideas and have fallen in love with idea of using a piece of furniture as a vanity. so we got on craigslist and saw this listing that said "pickers welcome...everything must go".
we need to start a reality show called family pickers, i think.
we were successful in finding our vanity.
in a vacant house. with the windows broke out and glass all over the floor. no electricity. looked at it with a flashlight. in a small small small town (pop 250) in north tama county.
it was an adventure and this is what we came home with...

pretty awesome, right? we are going to refinish it. and then add 2 vessel sinks to the top.
seriously glad i have a handy husband.
and this piece of furniture is SOLID. it was $150. way cheaper than a vanity from menards. :)
it's making me happy.

but not as happy as these people make me...

so here's the update on US. (photo taken by my sister at tater's 5th birthday party last night. so fun!!)
paul...working working working. SICK. stayed home with lani on friday. both were sick. he has really been awesome during this transition. our lives have completely changed. totally different life. he has just gone with the flow. never once complaining about my crazed moments of overwhelmedness (yes...i made that word up). supportive and amazing. and next week we will celebrate 12 years together. wow. love him so so so much more and so so so much better than i did 12 years ago. never thought that was possible. still love to laugh with him, but also love to garden with him and raise kids with him and drive 2 hours one way in a pick-up with 3 kids and dig through old abandoned houses looking for the perfect piece of furniture to repurpose.
really love that.

brigg...he's having a great year at school. really growing up. he loves his teacher. he's making some new friends. still loves his momma though. :) still social as ever. ran the mile the other day and beat his personal best which made him happy, but really wanted to get below 7:00. he got 7:07. he was discouraged. :) but then came up with a plan to do it in the spring. he is MOTIVATED and DRIVEN. when we were in colorado he decided he needed to be healthier and gave up soda. hasn't had a sip since august 6th. which is funny and pretty amazing. he would ask for a soda on any "special occasion". he's committed. and i love him with all my heart.

lani...still riding horses. playing piano. being a sweetie. doing great in school. loves her teacher. her reading is really taking off. she has really connected with another little girl here in our neighborhood. it's been fun to watch that relationship develop. she takes a while to warm up. but now she wants to be with her all the time. lani turns 8 this month. seems impossible. she has this quiet sense of humor that i ADORE. she is who she is. she doesn't change for anybody. i love that about her.

ayla...oh ayla. she's had the most change this year. she loves her daycare provider. an answer to prayer. she started preschool a couple weeks after daycare. she loved it for one day. since then she had been crying whenever we talk about it or when she gets dropped off. so as of friday, ayla is a preschool drop-out. :) i hope this doesn't become a trend in her life. ha! she has another year of preschool next year, so it's not a big deal. i think it was just too much change all at once.

me...i'm doing well! i want a house cleaner. really. i knew that once i dipped my toe in the waters of the working world again, i would be ready to dive in full force. i was right. i have thoughts daily of going to conferences and back to school for my masters. it's a bit of a problem. but i AM going to a conference in october and one again in november. i LOVE this stuff. love it.
we are still loving our location and our house. it's gorgeous out here. we feel so thankful. each and every day. so so thankful.

so that's it for now. we have found a new church. and it starts in 1 hour and 10 minutes. i need to shower. oh...and my goodness...we LOVE this church. YAY!!! the pastor is incredible. his messages have really spoken to us. we didn't think it would be possible to feel good walking into a church again. but we were so wrong. so off we go. have a great week. i'll try to check back again soon.