May 31, 2023

WUW- May 2023

Eating: $13 smoothies

Up to:

We went to the St. Louis Zoo over the weekend. Scott and I went way back in 2009 and we thought how great it would be to take Wells when we moved back here in 2021. It literally took us two years to get there. It's not *that* far away. I really just wanted to take him specifically to the dinosaur exhibit they recently added. That was definitely worth it. If you're in it for animals and for getting in your steps, I'd do the Kansas City Zoo. 


So I'm doing this book with Wells just because why not. It won't hurt him. It's all phonics based and it builds on the sounds he learned in preschool. But the thought of teaching him to read terrifies me. Like, I want someone else to do it? Preferably someone who believes in phonics. There's a reason I'm not a kindergarten teacher. 

Working on: 
Settling into toddlerhood. This is not my favorite age. I miss my 3 month old squishy baby. She is settling into walking more, I think her molars are done for now, and she's in a better sleep pattern (she FIGHTS nap/bedtime and then konks out as soon as I leave the room). 

Excited about:

I would really like to get back into hiking more, instead of boring sidewalk walking. Wells can tend to slow me down more than a stroller does though. Dogs slow me down too. So I have to pick my opportunities carefully. 
(I mean, I suppose Wells does great for not even being 5 years old. He will hike 3 miles at a time on this particular trail. He'll ride his scooter on the sidewalks for over a mile too. It just takes a lot of energy to cajole him along.)


Finished The Night Agent in like 4 days a few weeks ago and I think I forgot to recommend it. Very good. Also watched Queen Charlotte over the last week. I do enjoy the Bridgerton universe so I liked to see some backstory. I love a good prequel, whether in book, movie, or tv form. I started watching FUBAR last night. It's amusing. 

Reading: I posted books yesterday. I've been trying to read a lot but haven't been finishing many books. Such is life. 

Listening to: 

Over the weekend, I listened to Sold a Story. Have you found it yet? It's a 6 episode podcast. I cannot (repeat: cannot) recommend it enough. It's the most important thing for parents to listen to, period. You see, it's all about reading instruction and how educators screwed it up because the curriculum/policymakers at the top came up with fake science and used it to *not* teach children how to read for 30+ years. I feel grateful that I learned through phonics and that phonics is coming back around again. 
I learned how to teach through balanced literacy. Fountas and Pinnell was Gospel in education programs in the early 2000s.  It never quite made sense to me but that didn't matter because I never taught the primary grades. I never really used it, though I was definitely schooled on how to use it all. I spent enough time subbing in lower elementary though to know all about the book bags, the sight word cards, the word's actually sick what we did to kids without teaching them how to read. 
Anyway. An absolute must-listen for all parents. 


A plain black JCrew tshirt dress. This is from last year...I legitimately cannot remember *when* I got it. But I just ordered another in green because they are the most serviceable clothing item I own. 

And it really bothers me that these Madewell sandals are vanished from the site. I just got them a few months ago. These ones are similar but more expensive. 

Doing this weekend:

I am taking a dog to the vet for a check-up. 

Looking forward to next month: 

Just living summer life with one child in summer school (because WHY NOT?), one small toddler who is craving every ounce of my attention, and dogs who want to be walked and run and hunted and hiked, never really noticing that it's 90 degrees outside. 

It's not lost on me how different this summer is than two years ago (when we first moved into this house) and then last year (with a small infant). It's a certain type of nightmare trying to do fun outings by myself so we'll just see what I can fit into the schedule. 

And I'm not a summer person. I tend to celebrate quietly when the summer solstice hits and the days start getting shorter. 

I'm a lot of fun. 

May 30, 2023

April and May Books 2023

It's been a slow couple of months for reading. Part of this is a library problem. Part of this is a book problem. I've made the dumb mistake of attempting to read a bunch of nonfiction, which never works out well. I do best with fiction on the Kindle app. 

I'll just start with the kids' books. I'm teaching Wells the value of a serialized story, so we're reading The Magic Treehouse. I am counting these because I've never read them before. He likes them. He really just wanted to get to the Ninja book so I told him we had to start at the beginning. We're on #6 right now. 

The Knight at Dawn

Mummies in the Morning

Pirates Past Noon

Night of the Ninjas

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

I was given this to read last week. It's a novel study I'm going to be doing this coming school year. I've never read it ...actually I'd never heard of it! The study is already written by the previous teachers, which is GREAT, so I just needed to read the book. 

It's really good. Like, truly a good book. The chapters are short. The characters are relatable. It's about 6th graders but could be suitable for any reader, I think. I'll be doing it with 3rd grade. I, personally, approve this book for your kiddos if you have a middle-grade reader. The summary is that a girl has trouble reading and writing and fakes her way through school. It kind of picks up in the middle of the story without a ton of background and you learn as you go. Seriously a good book. It reminded me of Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You, which I read a few times when I was in school. 

Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

The one fiction book I read and loved. On the kindle, from the library. I read it in two days because it was so good! You have to suspend disbelief a bit but I really enjoyed the story. It pulled you into the world and I could picture it all. Sure, it was a rom-com of sorts but it wasn't tropey and dumb like most I come across and never finish. I absolutely recommend this one. 

The Total Classroom Management Makeover by Michael Linsin

He's the best for a refresher when it comes to teaching. He completely transformed the way I did things several years ago so I'm going back to his methods. I have gotten his Saturday email/article in my inbox for the last 6 or 7 years. I still read it every week, even if I'm not teaching. I'm also reading Dream Class right now. I recommended his other books way back when. 

Did not finish: 

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

This was so dumb. Carrie seems to be a spoiled and petulant 7 year old. She is awful. Her dad is slightly more interesting? I don't know. I quit around 20%. There was no one to root for in this story when the main character/title character/picture on the cover is insufferable. 

TJR tries to create these fictional worlds that are mirrored to real-life. She could learn a thing or two from Annabel with Nora Goes Off Script; that story is set in a fictional world with Hollywood A-listers and movies that the author completely made up. But it's not awkward or weird. It all fits nicely. 

Obviously it won a Goodreads award last year:

Anyway, I've been currently struggling through two different fiction hardcovers, I'm reading that classroom management book, I'm still reading M is for Mama, stalled out on Mere Christianity (we won't even talk about how far behind I am on the Bible reading plan I started)...I feel like I have a few more on my nightstand too, so things are not looking great almost mid-way through 2023. 

What are you reading right now? 

May 26, 2023

Friday Things 5/26

+I made the mistake of joining a minimalist Facebook group at like 10pm on Friday night. Guess what I spent the next two hours doing? Cleaning out dresser drawers. I actually made it through my drawers, a big closet in our living room where Everything Goes (crafts, wrapping paper, "important" papers, boxes that need to be saved, and a drone), and the inside of the bench by the entryway to the house. 

+I ordered two dresses from Old Navy last week. I've been getting no less than 4 emails each day from Old Navy ever since, so that seems like a giant mistake.

I kept this one. The color is called Flower Trail. It has pockets. 

I returned this one. The midi dress was 3 times as heavy. Like, they look the same but they were not the same material at all. I got it in navy, which is there on the site somewhere. But I don't know that it was nearly as flattering as the reviews make it out to be. It was like a heavy maxi dress. 

+I meant to do a post about food this week. I seriously meant to write 2-3 blog posts, plus a substack post and then...I just decided not to? We had a rough week. Then, we all (all) slept about 10 hours last night and things seem better this morning. 

+Books coming next week! I have read very little for April and May so I'm combining them. 

+ If you need a cocktail for the weekend, I suggest ranch water

+This is a first world thing, but I'm stopping coffee creamer. I've moved to a carton of heavy cream that we have, plus a spoonful of sugar. Then I have half-and-half and I'll try to wean myself off of the sugar. The processed creamers are something I've been meaning to cut out for awhile. 

+Library story time was a success this week. (It was after that that the week went downhill.)

Linking up for Friday Favorites!

May 19, 2023

Friday Things 5/19

This has felt like a long week? I don't know. They're all kind of long weeks since we're in toddler-land. I have discovered that while it's 10000% easier just to stay home all the time when you have a little baby, it's 10000% easier to be out of the house with a 1+ year old because it keeps them busy. Chasing her around the house and saying no all the time gets old for everyone. 

+I'm trying to get back into hiking? I don't know. On days where it's just the right temperature, it works out. 

+ The LAST week of preschool pick-up. PTL. 

Preschool graduation was last night. There should be a medal for those parents who get everyone out the door on their own. We all looked and felt better pre-ceremony for sure. Scott had to meet us there. Since it was over past *someone's* bedtime, we had to just get take-out instead of going out to eat. It's so weird to think that we've got Wells ready for kindergarten and now we're back in the throes of "beginning toddler" with Sutton. 

She ate an uncomfortable amount of cake. She was up, then, until 11pm. 

His cap/gown/tassel were nicer than the ones I had in high school. 
I'm much more broken up about Wells graduating preschool than I am about Sutton getting older? Is that weird? He's my literal baby. I mean, so is she but still. I don't know how parents do this. 

+I used to love the way some fashion bloggers were just simply source where they got their things with arrows. No fancy "COMMENT LINK!!1!" or "DM for LINKS!!". Just here's where I got it. So...using the editing features in Stories to my advantage. 


Mother's Day thoughts

Best, Easy, and Practical Teacher Gift

Plus, Feminism on my Substack

May 17, 2023

Simple and Practical Teacher Gift

I've been given a lot of thoughtful teacher gifts over the years. The mug I'm drinking my coffee out of right now was from a  student named Bristyl in 2011. I still use it almost every day. 

(Bristyl/Bristol is one of those classic Alaska names that I always had on a short list for a baby girl...I didn't remember until after Sutton was born that Sutton is also the name of a town in Alaska.)

In this day and age, if you don't own a high-tech, high-powered color printer and a Cricut, you may feel like teacher gifts are hard. No. Those things are cute and always appreciated. But practical is great too. 

I prefer the Simple Modern tumbler because it really is practically leakproof. It has to really get thrown around (usually by a small uncoordinated child) in order for anything to come out. Usually it comes out through the straw if it ends up upside down (which it has). 

I got this 16 oz one for Wells' teacher in a super pretty color and then I added a summery tea mix and a packet of iced coffee mixes. 

It may not seem like over the top or incredibly thoughtful, but a quality mug or tumbler goes a LONG way for a teacher. I used a Starbucks travel mug from a student for many years. I remember his mom asking me if I preferred hot chocolate or coffee and she gave me an assortment with the mug for Christmas. 

I had a student give me a large ceramic birdhouse shaped like an apple once. It says "To Miss Twigg, Love Sylvia, 2008". Very thoughtful. We've now been moving it around for many years. Another made me a rainbow striped wooden birdhouse and I hung it outside on the one tree here and it was battered to pieces in a summer storm a few years ago. 

Anyway. Teacher gifts. Something they can use immediately is always the best bet. Letters, drawings, paintings are great too. I have several that I've actually framed over the years and have them used them as classroom decorations. 

Evidence of learning is great to include too!

May 15, 2023

Moms' "night" "out"

Lots of quotations up there. 

With yesterday being Mother's Day, this all kind of popped into my head. 

Also, I watched a movie the other night called Moms' Night Out. It wasn't a bad movie. It's from 2014 so prepare yourself for some fashion if you check it out (think: bubble necklaces, chambray, and aztec print).

It was also one of those Pureflix productions so...prepare yourself for that too. 

The main character mom was completely and totally overwhelmed. She was hiding in a closet to "hide" from the house because it was a mess after the kids were in bed. She confessed to her often-away husband that she had everything she ever wanted and she couldn't understand why she was so unhappy. From what I gathered on her character, she was also a fixer, a people-pleaser, and never said no to someone who wanted or needed a favor. 

By the end of the movie, she was receiving advice from a jailbird tattoo artist (played by Trace Adkins) who told her that God made her the mother of her children because she was the best mother for them; it wasn't a mistake because God didn't make mistakes, no matter how little faith she had in herself. 

Then, she awoke the next morning (after a night of Adventures in Babysitting-like hijinks) to a quiet and clean house at sunrise with a cup of coffee and a computer ready for her to write her next blog post on motherhood. (Where were the kids?)

This was also a good reminder that Very Nice houses in 2014 weren't stark white with only mid-century modern furniture. The family definitely lived in a Very Nice house.

But that doesn't mean that this mom was doing okay. 

In fact, I really didn't like the message of the movie. This message is exactly why I never sought out Christian counseling when I felt the effects of PPD/PPA. I didn't want to be told to pray it away. I didn't want to be told to have faith. I wanted someone to validate my feelings and help me come up with a solution, and I didn't know if I'd find that by going the Christian counseling route. 

All I kept thinking while watching was This mom needs a counselor! This mom needs a solution! She doesn't need a night out! She probably needs an SSRI! It was actually really uncomfortable to watch at parts because I could feel exactly what she was probably feeling. 

But the solution to this problem of absolute SAHM overwhelm was to give her a fancy night out with her two friends, leaving all the children in the not-quite-so-capable hands of the husbands. 

I really wanted to throw some of these opinions out there but, alas, I was watching it at a friend's house for, ironically, a moms' night out. Meaning games, food, etc, plus this movie playing in the background. 

While I don't mind leaving our kids with Scott, I still made dinner for everyone before I left because it seemed like the considerate thing to do. It's not that he can't handle taking care of the kids; his time is just better spent on things only he can do, like re-siding the outside of the house or installing the new windows. 

My point: this classic narrative of moms just needing a night out isn't super helpful. We need to create a lifestyle where moms feel more supported and not like they have to cling to sanity while eating chocolate inside a closet in the dark. 

Anyway, Happy Mother's Day! :)

Mother's Day dinner. There's like 18 things going wrong behind the scenes of this picture, like how I had to chug my pineapple cider in order for us to get a melting-down one-year-old out the restaurant door before her brother spilled another glass of water all over Scott. 

May 12, 2023

Friday Things, 5/12

This week has gotten away from me with a coughing, croupy baby (no fever) and now a coughing preschooler*. It has rained most days so I'm glad I got in my one singular walk on Monday.  

Good thing we're going to the zoo today in the rain for a field trip. It will take all I have not to just drive to Target and/or Mardel's since I'm going that far anyway, but I feel like that may be a disaster with two small children. 

*No fever and he looks okay so an outdoor field trip looks like it has to happen. This has been on the schedule for 2 months at this point. 

She won't wear a hat. I'm rigging up an area to move this into the shade. 

We are dog-sitting. I initially thought this guy was a mix, but he's a purebred dachshund. He blends into the floor and into the yard when there's dirt, mulch, or leaves in the background. 

These are the books on my nightstand.

These are the books on my Kindle. 

Wells had a pretend birthday at school this week. One more week of preschool. 

Picking out paint for bedrooms.

She eats a peanut butter sandwich for dinner most nights. That's okay, right? 

Wells' job is to unload the dishwasher and he likes to build towers and I'm sure this is a terrible idea. 

This is sparkling water. It's very expensive and not worth the price but it's interesting. It comes out to like 1.30 a can. 

News! from Monday.