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Math Strategies for Home

“The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” 

-Albert Einstein

multicolored abacus photography
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I’ll admit it, I have some fears.

Rodents. Illness. Unleashed dogs. Natural disasters. Lakes I can’t see the bottom of.  Helping my children with their math homework.

Math homework?

Strange, right? After all, I am a teacher, with a Master’s degree, and a very solid grasp of my times tables. Yet, panic inevitably ensues when asked, “Hey, Mom. Can you help me with my math?”

It’s not that I can’t help, entirely. It’s that I don’t want to mess up how they’re learning it in school. I’m also the person who needs to spend time “relearning” concepts I haven’t done in awhile, which doesn’t always bode well at 8 p.m. the night before an assignment is due. So, when parents tell me they don’t know how to help their children with math, I totally get it. Because I, too, am that parent.

Therefore, in following up with my previous posts, At Home Writing Activities and Unplugged Literacy Activities here are some practical ways you can help your children improve their math skills without losing your sanity.

Memorize those Math Facts 

The number one math struggle I see as an elementary teacher is when students do not have their math facts memorized. As in math facts, I’m talking basic addition, subtraction, and multiplication and division of numbers 1-12. These facts should be recalled in less than three seconds. Students who do not have their facts memorized, have to work harder to solve any problem placed in front of them. Think about it, when asked to find the product of 965 x 13, students who cannot recall 5 x 3 are going to get lost in the first step of the algorithm. It is so much more challenging to learn higher-level concepts when you’re still focused on the basics.

My advice. Learn your facts, y’all.

Practical ways to do this are creating flashcards, skip counting (7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49…), and quizzing one another on facts. There are also excellent websites out there that generate flashcards for students to improve their facts: Reflex MathXtra Math,  Cool Science Lab.

Practice Measurement and Shape Attributes

The ability to measure objects with a ruler is often not as simple as it seems. A really practical way to build this skill is to give children a ruler and a piece of paper and have them mark off inches, 1/2 inches, 1/4 inches. Then turn the ruler around and measure in centimeters. So many art projects can be done by measuring lines and angles. In doing this, talk about intersecting lines, triangles, circles, angles.

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Photo by Laura Meinhardt on Pexels.com

 

Start by putting a dot in the center of your paper. Using a ruler, draw lines outward toward the edge of the paper. Then using the ruler, measure out inches, placing a dot on each one, for each line. Connect the dots and color your design. 

 

 

 

 

 

Once students feel comfortable measuring with a ruler, move onto the yardstick or tape measure and begin to…Measure. All. The. Things. Seriously, measure the doors in your house, the rooms, your yard, your refrigerator. Then chart everything in a notebook, adding what type of shape it is. Four sides makes it a quadrilateral, three sides means it’s a triangle, five sides is a pentagon. Being able to take measurements is a life skill so why not start now?

Telling Time

Okay, so we all have digital clocks and cell phones, but how many of us have an analog clock in our homes? Better yet, an analog clock with Roman Numerals? Work with your young mathematicians on how to tell time to the hour, the minute, the second. Practice elapsed time with them. For example: Soccer practice began at 5:45 p.m. and we ate lunch at 12:10 p.m. How many minutes passed between when we ate lunch and went to soccer? Just by having your students tell time and determine the number of hours, minutes and seconds before each activity, you’re providing valuable math practice.

Cooking with Fractions

Remember that fear of math I mentioned? Fractions happen to be near the top of the yikes category for elementary families. Why not teach your kids to cook with you? Practical and necessary. Recipes are simply fractions. Groovy, right?!?

1/4 c + 1/4 c = 2/4 cup or 1/2 cup

1 TB is equal to 3 tsp. Therefore, 1 tsp = 1/3 TB.

Encourage your child to use cooking to improve at fractions. I mean, the simplest way to say it is “I get you’re literally starving to death. Would you rather have 1/2 of a pizza or 1/8 of the pizza?”

Take it a step further. Have your child create a family recipe book. When creating, ask them how they would double a recipe, triple a recipe. Likewise, what would happen if you only needed to make 1/2 a serving of spaghetti sauce instead of a full serving? You originally needed 2/3 tsp of oregano, now you need 1/3 tsp.

We use fractions every day. We often don’t even think about it. Why not encourage our children to do the same?

pizza on brown wooden board
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Area, Perimeter, and Volume, oh my…

When teaching area and perimeter, I ask students to consider a swimming pool. The area is the pool itself, whereas the perimeter is the fence that goes around the pool.

For example, if the length of the pool is 8 ft. and the width of the pool is 4 ft., the area of the pool is 32 square feet. (length x width = area; 8 ft x 4 ft = 32 square feet)

The perimeter, on the other hand, is 24 feet. (length + width + length + width = perimeter; 8 ft. + 4 ft. + 8 ft. + 4 ft= 24 ft.)

Volume, then, is the amount of water it would take to fill the pool. So if the height (or depth) of the pool is 4 ft, the volume of the pool is 128 cubed feet. (length x width x height = volume; 8 ft x 4 ft x 4 ft = 128 cubed feet.)

Once student are aware of the formulas for area, perimeter (and sometimes, volume) they can draw blueprints and measure the amount of space they would need. For example, have students plan a vegetable garden, a grocery store, a restaurant, a theme park, or their dream house. By drawing rectangles on paper to plan, they can determine the area they need for each table, or vegetable, or freezer. By adding each up, they can then determine the total area needed for their designs. Students can then take it a step further to determine the perimeter needed to enclose their plan.

area and perimeter

Practice Decimals with Money

Who doesn’t like counting money? If you’re able to count change, you’re able to understand decimals.

1 penny = 1/100 of a dollar or .01

50 pennies = 50/100 of a dollar or .50

$1.25 = 125/100 or 100/100 + 25/100 = 1.00 + .25

Encourage students to use money to practice using decimals. When they understand that 3 quarters = $.75 = 75/100, they can practice comparing decimals.

What would you rather have…

75/100 or 33/100

.75 or .33

.75 > .33, so I would rather have $.75 than $.33

Finally, expand on this by having students add and subtract monetary amounts to practice place value by lining up the decimals.

10.32 + 1.25 = 11.57

1.25 + .25 + 1.50

Whereas, $1.25 + $20 = $1.25 + $20.00 = $21.25   (NOT $1.25 + $.20 = $1.45)

Line Plots

Being able to analyze and use line plots is an essential skill for upper elementary students. On one of your nature walks, have your child count the number of flowers they see and put it into a line plot. Then ask which flower did you see the most of? Which flower did you see the least of? How many more roses did you see than tulips?

line plot

 

Puzzles, Games and Legos

Math, at its core, is the ability to problem solve. Family puzzles and games not only provide life skills and fun, they also allow children to deal with complex tasks, to count money, to add up the numbers on a pair of die, to recognize colors, patterns and relationships. Legos also allow children to read diagrams and solve complex tasks. My son used to like to create his own Lego designs and then write step by step instructions for solving them. It was a great way to use his creativity while also practicing his ability to challenge others with his designs.

puzzle

So, take a deep breath and enjoy having fun with math because a lot of it’s really not as frightening as we think.

Until next time…

Be kind, stay awesome, and ask yourself, What have I done for others today? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Home Writing Activities

“The day is full of possibilities. It’s all in the way you look at things.”

-Mary Poppins

I love to write. Ask any of my current and former students and they’ll likely tell you that I also love to teach writing. Hand me a prompt and a rubric and it’s go time. Many of my students are right there with me, while others…

…not so much.

I get it. Writing is hard and staring at a blank page can be terrifying. In following up with my last post Unplugged Literacy Activities, here are some of my favorite ways to encourage young writers from home.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Daily Journal

Encourage children to journal each day. If they struggle to come up with ideas of what to write about, offer them a daily prompt.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

What superpower would you most like to possess?

What are your goals for today, what will you do to accomplish them? What did you achieve yesterday?

Narrative Writing

Narrative writing is one of the three tenets of writing taught to elementary students. Simply put, this is the ability to write a story. These stories can be fiction or nonfiction, can take place in present time or the past, and need to have characters and dialogue. If students are struggling to come up with narrative prompts, here are a few ideas.

Free Write Based on a Photo

I love to show students a picture with no backstory or details and tell them to write about it. It’s amazing what they come up with as far as characters and plot. Many even write a poem based on the photo. I’m always impressed by their creativity. This photo in particular is one I took inside of the Lewis and Clark Caverns. Without telling my students that, I would show them the picture and say…Go!

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Write an Alternate Ending

Read children a story, or have them read a book, and then write a different ending. You can also take a story they enjoy and ask them to write what happens next (think: modern fan-fiction)

Write from a Different Character’s Point of View

If Harry Potter was told from Hermione Granger’s perspective , what would happen? Similar to an alternate ending, how would the narrative change if it was told from another person’s perspective?

Write a Fractured Fairy Tale

I love reading fractured fairy tales, which are basically fairy tales told from the point of view of the antagonist. My favorite is a picture book  The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. I’m also currently reading Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin to my fifth graders. Students love reading the perspective of the antagonist. Why not have them write a story of their own based off of the “bad guy?” Personally, I’d love to read a story about Syd from Toy Story. That kid is a chasm of twisted creativity.

Write a Script

My son loved writing scripts when he was younger, which he turned into homemade movies. He had backstory, tragedy, and a lot of cousins to act out his movies. In fact, these days he’s still writing scripts as one of the Assemblies Coordinators at his high school. One way to increase creativity is to have students write a movie script that they can perform and film at home. Kids are super adept at technology so why not embrace it?

Informational Writing

The second type of writing students are expected to know in elementary school is informational, or informative, writing. This writing is meant to inform a reader about a topic. Informational writing in nonfiction and must have a main idea and evidence to support the main idea. Here are some ways to improve informational writing.

Research a Topic

Choose a topic that the writer can teach others about. Remember, all evidence must be fact based as the main priority is to educate the reader. For example, if the topic is The Black Hole, have your child research about the black hole and write a paper or create a slide presentation to teach you about it.

Create an Informational Pamphlet

Again, research a topic and create a pamphlet with information and nonfiction text features- pictures, graphs, diagrams, charts, etc.- to engage the reader. As I tell my students, the best way to engage a reader is to make them interested from the get go. The best way to keep a reader is to hook them from the start.

Start a Family Newspaper

There are a lot of current events and news that can be added to a family newspaper, not to mention editorials, book and movie blurbs, and advice columns. Make it fun and collaborative! Also, share it with me because I love reading about current events!

Create an Encyclopedia

Do current students even know what an encyclopedia is? Have your child choose a letter and write informational pieces about various topics that start with that letter. It’s also a great way to work on alphabetizing words and information.

Opinion Writing

My children, and some of my students, love to argue. That is fact. So why not encourage it through their writing? Opinion writing is the ability to convince others of your belief in a topic and/or to persuade them into feeling the same way. It is also the third major type of writing students need to understand before leaving elementary school. Opinion writing should include a paragraph stating your opinion, a few paragraphs including reasons and evidence to support your opinion, and a final paragraph restating your opinion. For older students, you should also include a paragraph that presents the counter-argument as a way to acknowledge the other stance while also reinforcing why your opinion is correct. Below are some ideas of how to not only build on children’s opinion writing skills, but to also encourage the argument in an academic way.

You Don’t Agree with My Rules? Prove It.

Encourage children to argue with you through writing. I need you to state your opinion and give me plausible reasons and evidence for why it is correct. If you are anything like me, you will acknowledge the argument and give reason for your counter-argument, before coming to an agreement.

Choose a Topic and Encourage Children to Take a Stance

Is a dog or a cat a better pet?

Should animals be kept in a zoo?

Which is better? Chocolate or vanilla?

What time should elementary students go to bed at night?

Remember that students should be able to state their opinion and that their opinion should stay consistent throughout their writing. For example, if they state chocolate is better than vanilla (obviously), they need to back that up with solid reasons and examples without singing vanilla’s praises in the second paragraph.

Write Book Reviews

A great way to reinforce persuasive writing is to write book and/or movie reviews. State why you liked or didn’t care for the book and give reasons why. Convince me this is a book I should read! 

colored pencils and water color beside picture frame
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

Stay tuned for my next post on unplugged math ideas!

Until then, as I would say to my students…be kind, stay awesome, and ask yourself, What have I done for others today? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unplugged Literacy Activities

 “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

– Benjamin Franklin

I finished my second trimester report cards on Friday, less than twenty-four hours after our school closed for six weeks, due to the state-mandated COVID-19 closure. Although I know instruction will continue in some capacity, districts, including my own, are scrambling to adapt to this current reality. Our number one priority is making sure our students will still continue to have their basic needs met through food and nutrition services. Then, we can focus on the next task– facilitating learning opportunities outside of the classroom.

I’m not a fan of all-day screen time. Yes, a lot of distance learning takes place on computers and there are phenomenal learning websites to reinforce skills and aid in instruction, many of which I will be sharing in the coming days and weeks.  There are also many activities that can be done at home without a computer.

With that said, I am not opposed to technology or computer access in any way, at home or at school, however here are some literacy activities so students can learn from home during this time of imbalance.

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Read. Read. Read.

The best way to improve fluency and comprehension is to read. Have your children read for at least thirty minutes daily. Ask them questions about what they read that day, give them a sticky notepad to write a quick sentence about each chapter and post the notes to create a storyboard. I’ve also found that if I’m reading, my kids are more likely to follow without complaint.

Build Fluency by Reading Aloud

Fluency is the rate and accuracy in which a student reads. The higher their fluency, the better their comprehension because they are working less on decoding words and are therefore able understand what they are reading. Read aloud to your child and have them read aloud to you. The more children read aloud, the more comfortable they become in doing so. Watch for unnatural pauses in sentences and encourage them to use expression in their voice.

Build on New Vocabulary

Write newly acquired vocabulary in a notebook. Have children try using context clues to identify what the words mean before going to Google or a dictionary. Encourage them to create a dictionary and quiz others on their new vocabulary terms.

Create Storyboards and/or Story Pamphlets

Fold paper into thirds to create a story pamphlet or board. After reading, students can create a cover, identify the plot, as well as the characters, setting and theme. My daughter created this one for Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse so I could show you an example.

story board

 

Start a Book Club

Read the same book within your family or create a book club between your child and a few of their friends. When they are not together and technology is allowed, they can create a common document to summarize and discuss the book.

Family/Friends Book Reviews

Find a place to post about books and make recommendations. Book reviews are a fantastic place to start opinion writing. Convince me to read that book you’re recommending!

Listening and Learning

Read something to your child and then ask them comprehension questions. The art of being an active listener when not being able to follow along with what is being read is very difficult. You have to tune out all side thoughts and distractions. Make the questions very specific to what was read.

Practice Identifying the Theme of a Story

In my experience, the ability to identify the theme, or message/moral, of a story is difficult for all elementary students. It is also an essential learning standard. Contrary to the main idea of a story, it is the overlying and often inferred messages that are woven throughout. The best place to find identifiable themes and morals are in fables and fairy tales.

For example:

The Three Little Pigs: don’t take short cuts to get a job done.

Tortoise and the Hare: slow and steady wins the race.

The Lorax: take care of the environment.

Harry Potter: loyalty, friendship, courage, good vs. evil.

The ability to identify themes in books is essential so make it fun and practice!

Practice Comparing and Contrasting

So many books have movie companions. To compare and contrast, draw a Venn Diagram and have students write what’s specific to the book, what’s specific to the movie, and what’s in both.

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Create a Plot Diagram or Story Mountain

To learn more about what a Plot Diagram is, I suggest this fantastic Pixar Video that one of my teaching teammates shared with me. After reading a book or watching a show, ask your child to create a plot diagram of it on paper. I created one on our white board at home of the cartoon version of Mulan. I also like to add a favorite quote, as well as the themes, and genre of the book/movie.

plot diagram

A Little Bribery Never Hurt

Not only am I a teacher, but I’m a parent, which also makes me a realist. Despite forcing them, I have two children who, unlike myself, are not avid readers. Therefore, a few bribery tricks to encourage reluctant readers.

  • For each book read, they get a puzzle piece. When the puzzle is complete, they earn a prize.
  • Create a BINGO board. For each book read they get a square. Bingo is a prize and Blackout is a prize.
  • Sticker charts, completed Mr. Potato heads for prizes. Extra technology time, money and desserts…I’ve done it all.

 

Good luck and stay tuned for my next post on unplugged writing ideas!

Until then, as I would say to my students…be kind, stay awesome, and ask yourself, What have I done for others today? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting Go

My oldest graduates from high school next month. In thirty-four days, to be exact.

The past months have been busy, comprised of a constant to-do list of senior year tasks. SAT tests, college applications, financial aid and scholarship applications. Senior pictures, graduation announcements, awards’ nights, activities and events, senior nights, the yearbook baby ad, grad night registration. The list goes on and on.

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The thing I haven’t really prepared for, however, is the finality of it all. The fact that this is the last year she’ll live at home. It’s the last year I will be at all of her activities. The last year I’ll impose a curfew. The last year I’ll wait up on a weekend night to make sure she gets home safely. The reality of dropping her off at college will be my ultimate test of strength, and quite possibly, the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. That’s when I’ll officially be letting her go and hoping, beyond every hope I’ve ever had, that I’ve adequately prepared her for what’s to come.

The thing is, though, I feel like I’ve been letting her go for a really long time. Maybe that’s how, as moms, we survive the inevitable event of our children leaving the nest and starting to build their own. Perhaps it’s how those small moments, whether they be heart-breaking or inconsequential, make it so we’re able to breathe when the unavoidable leaving happens. The first day they go to school without crying when we leave them, the first sleepover at a friend’s house, the first trip away from home, the first date, the first time they rebel, the first time they get out of the car without a kiss goodbye, the day you realize that they’d rather hang out with their friends on a weekend night than with you. For me, those were the baby steps of her moving on and the big steps of me letting her go.

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I remind myself all the time that her pulling away from me is normal. I did the same thing when I was her age. In many ways, my oldest is the most like me. She loves to laugh, is athletic and dedicated. She’s stubborn and willful, is outspoken when she believes rights are being threatened or others have been wronged. Even in utero, when I’d press on the spot she’d kicked, she’d move to the opposite side and kick harder. That is, when we weren’t in the hospital being monitored on those days when she’d refused to move at all. She’s tested me from day one, and taught me more about what it must have been like to raise me than my own parents ever could.

They say you only have eighteen summers with your kids. I like to break it down even further: one newborn year, two toddler years, two preschool years, six years of elementary, three years of middle school, and four years of high school. At the beginning, when overwhelmed by lack of sleep and enamored by her baby smell and cuddles, I relished in the fact that I had so many years left. As she grew, I was comforted that there was still time; we still had gymnastic seasons, school years, summer vacations. We still had schedules to juggle and overbooked weekends, nights when dinner was either take-out or eaten between events, homework to complete while driving to practices. Frantic moments and all-day gymnastics meets I wish more than anything I could have back.

Now I’m left with months, weeks, days. Of course, I look forward to the vacations, holidays, summers home (hopefully), and pray with all of my being that she’ll move back near us when she finishes college. But I also know, no matter what, that she’ll be out there living her best life. A life that I’m fortunate enough to be a witness to, a life that I was lucky enough to bring into this world.

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In truth, I still don’t know how to let go, and I know for a fact that I never truly will. For now, I plan to enjoy these weeks with her. I’m going to mail her graduation announcements, to celebrate her accomplishments, and to smile when she walks across that graduation stage, accepting that through my pride, my heart is both swelling and breaking.

I’m going to drop her off at college knowing that I’ve raised a good person who will do amazing things. I’ll say goodbye through my tears as she’s doing exactly what she was meant to do because she’s the person I raised her to be. I’ll give her a final hug and she’ll know that she always has a place to call home.

 

 

 

Nineteen

Nineteen years ago, I bought a down comforter and yellow duvet cover. I wanted my bedroom to be bright, hypocritically cheery even, so that when I came home from the hospital after the scheduled induction, the natural light and yellow accents might help me get out of bed in the morning.

Natural light. Such a silly thing to focus on, but that’s how I got through that day. I was angry. I was scared. I hated myself. I wanted to die.

Nineteen.

The number of weeks I was pregnant. Roughly the number of hours that passed from finding out my baby died in utero to when I delivered her.

Nineteen.

The age my daughter would be today.

The books don’t prepare you for what could happen. They’re all about snakes and snails, sugar and spice, and everything nice. They touch on the fact that 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, that it’s usually due to a chromosomal abnormality and so common most women have one, many before they even find out they’re expecting. It’s all clinical sounding. I should know as I became a voracious researcher of miscarriage, pouring through what research I could find. Maybe I was trying to justify why it happened to me. What I had done wrong. Where I had failed. I wanted, needed, to stop it from ever happening again.

Unfortunately, for me, miscarriage happened in 1 in 2 pregnancies, and hearing how common it was didn’t make it any easier. Being knowledgeable about it, didn’t keep it from happening again. And again.

I rarely talk about my miscarriages. In fact, most people who know me have no idea I’ve had one, let alone three. My first pregnancy ended at the start of my second trimester. Fetal demise, they called it. What an awful term. To this day it makes me cringe, even more than photos from when feathered bangs were actually cool. My fifth pregnancy ended early, at six weeks. My second pregnancy ended nineteen years ago. It’s the most raw, and to this day, painful. I have no intention of sharing the intricacies of those horrible hours in depth. Those details are private, as is her name.

In many ways I don’t believe I’ve earned the right to mourn publicly. Although she was stillborn, she doesn’t have a grave site to visit and my memories of that day are faded at the edges, partly because of the shock I endured, and also the guilt I’ve carried with me since. The only photo I have of her is a fourteen week ultrasound where I still recall the tech commenting on how active she was. Losing her remains my unspeakable tragedy, a darkness that was so deep I felt like I was descending into the ocean past where any light can permeate.

But with every darkness, there is light. At the time, I didn’t know if I’d ever find it again, but it’s here- in my social justice driven daughter, my son whose ability to overcome adversity inspires me everyday, and my youngest who brightens every room she walks into. It’s in my husband who held my hand on that day and didn’t say any of the words that people used to justify our tragedy, well-meaning as they were. Because at the time, I didn’t want to hear them.

If you’ve experience miscarriage or stillbirth, whether it was a month or thirty years ago, I’m so sorry. I’ll say no more than that because those are the only words I wanted to hear. For me, it wasn’t the loss of a dream and it wasn’t going to be okay. I didn’t want to hear that I got pregnant once so I could do it again or that she was better off having died when she did because she would have been too disabled to live. It didn’t feel like a blessing to lose her, and disability or not, I loved her.

Please don’t feel sorry for me. I’m not asking for sympathy. Instead, hug someone who needs it. Be welcoming and have compassion for those looking for a better life. Forgive. Be kind. Be the person that I wanted to be for her. Have faith. Have hope. Love.

trisomy 18

 

 

 

Perspective: How Almost Losing My Son Saved Me

A few months ago, I was living the “grown up” life I’d always imagined—husband, three kids, a teaching job, and evenings spent running my kids to their various activities, grading papers, writing, and exercising. I was the mom who appeared to have it all together.

Except I didn’t. Not even close. I went to yoga and while in shavasana, compiled my to-do list for later in the day. I ran three miles and then came home and ate chips and salsa. I had wine and chocolate every night as I watched mindless television while surfing the Internet. I suffered headaches, could barely survive without weekend power naps, and for the first time in my life, was told that my blood pressure was getting a bit high.

I counted down the days to the weekend as if my life could only be lived between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. That’s not to say that I didn’t love my job, but rather that weekends seemed the time to do what I wanted to do where weekdays were meant to tackle the things I had to do.

I was living the life I was supposed to live, or at least pretending to, when on a sunny February day, everything changed.

As with every other Sunday, that afternoon was filled with errands and an ever-present to-do list. I dropped my fifteen-year-old off at the indoor baseball facility for practice, gassed up the car for the week, grabbed some groceries, and drove back to the facility two hours later, to pick up my son.

I parked and waited, checking my email and responding to text messages on my phone. When he came out to the car nearly fifteen minutes late, he was crying. He’d been hit in the head with a ball while fielding at a first base station. I drove straight to an urgent care facility, figuring he had a concussion. After all, I’d signed the concussion waiver for every sport my children played. We were informed how to recognize the signs and symptoms. What else could it be?

Three hours, one referral to the emergency room, and a CT scan later, a doctor stood in front of me. Your son has a fractured skull and is bleeding in his brain. His condition is life- threatening. The pediatric neurologist is on his way to discuss surgical options. We’re admitting him to ICU.

The room filled with doctors and nurses. I signed consent forms, looking from my son to the stack of papers I’d been grading as we awaited his test results. The words emergency brain surgery still hung in the air as the surgeon and anesthesiologist arrived. My son was wheeled down the hall as my husband and I followed behind. They assured us they were going to do everything they could, they believed they caught it in time and he’d be okay, but even I, the mom who appeared to have it all together, couldn’t help but wonder if I was saying goodbye to my second born. And what had I been doing at the hospital? Rather than focusing solely on my injured son, I’d been grading math assessments. I was overcome with regret and shame.

I knelt in front of a chair in the deserted waiting room, surrounded by toys, and prayed, pleaded, and begged for my son’s life. I closed my eyes and pictured him walking into a room, his casual sway and signature grin. I thought about his love of pop tarts and how he always roots for the villain, rather than the hero. I could do nothing but hope that I’d once again hear his voice, watch a ball game with him, and see him relentlessly tease his sisters.

I’ve always considered myself to be a strong person, but this realization, that I may lose my son was beyond anything I’d ever been dealt, and I’d survived a lot. My oldest were two and four the first time my husband was deployed to Iraq. By the second deployment, we’d added another child and a shih Tzu to our family. That added up to three kids piling into my bed every night and a dog who needed to be bribed to pee outside. While he braved the sands of Mosul, I fought the tantrums and homework power struggles on the home front. Believe me, if anything is going to break at home, it will happen exactly one hour after a deployed-spouse lands on foreign soil. It’s one of those unspoken rules they don’t tell you about when your soldier signs on the dotted line. I was strong and self-sufficient.

Or so I thought.

I didn’t know it at the time, but in those minutes and hours, as I tried not to focus on the what ifs, I was also coming to terms with the fact that although I was a great pretender, I was no longer the mom I wanted to be, or the person I thought I was.

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My husband and I stood beside our son’s hospital bed when he was wheeled into ICU following surgery. There would be more tests, visits with specialists, and constant checks for neurological responses. Despite our joy that he was responding to our voices, we had to keep the room dark and quiet to allow his brain to rest. He was easily agitated and stress made his blood pressure rise rapidly. He fought fevers and couldn’t get comfortable because the side of his head that he normally slept on now had over three dozen staples holding his skull in place. But he was alive and it was more than I could hope for.

Blanco hospital

Four days later, I walked beside his wheelchair when he was released from the hospital.

P going home

He’s responding well. His brain looks good. An amazing recovery. He’s a fighter. I became aware of our surroundings for the first time, as I’d never strayed more than fifty feet from his bedside in the hours he was admitted. He came home to heal from his brain injury and surgery, as we all tried to adjust to a new normal. The fear of him going into a seizure or bleeding internally was never far from my mind, despite reassurances that he was expected to make a complete recovery.

P staples

When he told a joke, I said a silent thank you that he was alive to make me laugh. When he said, “I love you too, Mom,” I cried remember how I’d feared I’d never hear those words again. I monitored his medications, coordinated a plan with his high school counselor, and limited his activity and technology so his brain could heal.

Three days after he came home, I headed to Tacoma for my daughter’s state gymnastic meet. After driving through traffic, finding there was no parking, and fearing I was going to miss her first event, I completely lost my shit, for lack of a better word. I put my head on the steering wheel and sobbed. I cried from exhaustion, pounded on the steering wheel with frustration, and hated myself more than I ever had before because I’d been correcting those math assessments in the hospital.

Why had they mattered so much? Why hadn’t I gone in to look for him when he was late coming out of practice? Why didn’t I have the foresight to take him straight to the emergency room? Would he be in less pain now? Would his brain have suffered less trauma? Would it have made a difference?

Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference, but for me it did. Almost losing my son had changed me. In the days and weeks that followed I realized that living for the weekends was not enough. Every day held the possibility of amazing things, and I no longer wanted to waste them. I finally accepted the fact that it’s okay to be overwhelmed and to say no once in a while, and that there’s no sense suffering through exercises that make you feel like crap.

I started cooking more at home, and making salads and vegetables rather than grabbing dinner on the run. I stopped bringing papers home to grade, opting instead to do it during my planning or have my students grade their work in class, and found out that no one, aside from myself, noticed. I gave up the nightly glasses of wine and chocolate and stopped mindlessly watching television to go for walks or work in the yard. Most importantly, I realized that if you’re not doing what you enjoy, there’s really no point to it.

I started dropping everything and reading more, spent less time worrying about the perception others had of me, and lost weight. My head aches dissipated and my skin cleared up. At a recent doctor’s appointment, my blood pressure was low and I celebrated by going for a long walk.

I’ll never understand why my son had to go through what he did. I don’t know if he’ll ever play baseball again, and I’m certain that I’ll never be the person I was before this experience. What I do know is that almost losing him reminded me of what’s important in life. It’s not the to-do list, which never ends, the decorated (and immaculate) house, or the perception of the perfect mom who is what everyone else aspires to be and looks fashionable whether along the sideline of a soccer match or behind the dugout at a baseball game. I’m never going to be the person who has it all together, and that’s okay.

There will always be an abundance of activities to take my kids to, but when I think of the alternative, I find it difficult to breath as I force the what ifs from my mind. Whether stopping for Starbucks or singing along with the radio in the car on the way, time spent driving my kids around is time well spent. Never again will I forget what matters because life can change in an instant, and the most important thing you can do, beyond everything else, is to just live.

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Life

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. The seasons have changed from summer, to fall, to rain, to winter, to rain (oh, the rain this year…), to spring, to rain, and now, summer again. Suddenly I’m a year older and the reality that my children are a year closer to moving away from home scares me more than ever before. In truth, the past year has changed me. Some of this shift was because of that natural progress that occurs as we go through life. Some of it was brought on by circumstances out of my control, which altered my perspective of both myself and humanity.

As you’ve likely asserted, I’m not a reliable blogger. I’m sporadic at best, preferring only to blog when I feel inspired, rather than sticking to a schedule which readers can rely on. I can’t handle blogging to a schedule- truthfully, it stresses me out. My brain is always running a thousand miles an hour, and even now as I write this, I’m thinking about all that I still need to get done this weekend. After all, laundry doesn’t fold itself. Regardless, I commit to forming an imprint on my couch for the time being so as to update you on the happenings of my life.

On Family…

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My husband and I will celebrate our 21st anniversary this July. He’s asked me repeatedly what we should do for our anniversary. My answer is likely a let down for him as I just want to live in the moment. He’s a planner and meticulous paperwork pile creator, striving to organize details with the precision of an event coordinator, likely a side effect of over two decades of military training. I, on the other hand, just want to “wing it”. I like to go for hikes, drink coffee in the early hours of the morning, drive to destinations we’ve never been, eat at restaurants that serve gluten-free food and cheap Merlot. I prefer to sit in a lawn chair with a good book than push my way through a crowd or watch an overpriced action-packed movie in a theater. Maybe that’s why we work as a couple- I am the introvert to his extrovert, the recycler to his pile creator, the smile to his untimely jokes.

With that said, I remain faithfully organized. With only a half-day left of school, I am ready to turn off my computer and leave the moment my students depart after the final bell has rung for the school year. I can make dinner, correct papers, and pay bills simultaneously, while also corresponding with classmates to plan our reunion this summer. I read novels while at baseball games and remain unable to cook when the kitchen isn’t clean. I’m not sure where my organized brain came from, but I’m forever grateful for the ability to plan lessons, coach track, write a chapter and pull weeds all before sitting down at the television to watch a FRIENDS rerun.

My best gift, however, remains being a mom. As of Monday, I will have a junior, sophomore and 5th grader. My children continue to amaze me with their athleticism and intellect. What I’m most proud of, however, is their respect and empathy for others. When I willingly signed up for this whole parenting thing, I seriously hit the jackpot. Not all days are easy. There are epic eye rolls, arguments, and more than enough morning dramas, but overall, I couldn’t be prouder and I am so grateful for every day spent with my kids.

On Teaching…

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This school year has been tough, but also rewarding. The two constants I tell my students are to never give up and to be awesome. More than ever before, I’ve had to adhere to my own advice. From moving to a new school, teaching a new grade level, learning two new curriculums, and having an extremely rough first week, I can honestly say, I couldn’t have been given a better class. The twenty-six students I was blessed to teach this year are amazing. Yes, it was a lot of work to get them to the next level, but I will never forget this group of students or how they cared about each other.

A couple of months ago, I was asked by the district curriculum team to be filmed as a model and example for instructional engagement strategies. Intimidating- yes. Overwhelming- most definitely. Awkward- totally. They sent me the video yesterday, along with a nice thank you note. I don’t know if I’ll ever watch it because seeing myself on film is painful. Performing on stage or in front of the camera was never my thing, however, it was nice to be recognized for my work. This summer, I plan to focus on student growth mindset strategies, while also serving on the literacy curriculum framework writing team and completing my English Language Arts endorsement.

On Writing…

I finished another contemporary young adult novel, which is currently in the hands of my literary agent. Publishing is a hard business, which moves at a glacial pace. In case you’re wondering; no, my other two novels have not sold yet. I remain committed to one day seeing my novels on the bookstore shelves, or as the market continues evolving, the Amazon website.

Here’s a sneak peek of my new novel, currently titled, Playing with the Boys:

diamonds are a girls best friend

        The ball stings the palm of my hand when it smacks against my glove. The batter winces at the ump’s call as I smile faintly, reminding myself that we aren’t done yet. One more pitch.

            The batter recovers and moves back into the box, tapping his bat on the plate, once and then a second time. The dirt from his cleats rises, clinging to my knee pads as the pitcher winds up. The ball crosses the plate right into my glove.

            “Strike! You’re out!”

            I stand and give my pitcher a high five before yanking off my facemask and helmet. I pretend to ignore the stares, the laughs, the comments coming from the other team’s dugout. No one cares how I played. No one cares that we shut them out. They only care about what they see in front of them, as if they’ve just realized what my team has known all along.

            The best catcher on the field is a girl.

On Reading…

 

The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins.

My verdict: This book was unputdownable (is that even a word?). I read it on the airplane to CA, while we were waiting to depart the plane, while in line at the car rental place, while waiting for the rental bus, while in line at the hotel, in the hotel room, and while my family waited for me to finish so we could go to dinner. It was that addictive.

Everything, Everything and The Sun is also a Star, by Nicola Yoon.

I loved these diverse YA novels. Highly recommend!

I’ll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson

This was a fantastic young adult book about siblings, with an awesome voice.

I’m currently reading Love and Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch. It’s another book with a fantastic voice and the fact that it’s set in Italy is a bonus. There are so many other books coming out that I can’t wait to devour.

On February 12, the Day that Changed Everything…

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I never imagined how things would change when I took my son to his select baseball practice on the Sunday afternoon of February 12. I remember dropping him off, gassing up the car, running errands and then stopping at home to see my daughters. Then I called out that I was heading to pick up their brother and would be back in a half an hour. I returned home four days later.

You see, my son was struck in the temple with a baseball toward the end of his practice. As most athletes do, he shook it off and continued playing. When he came out to the car, he was crying (not a typical reaction from him) and said he got hit in the head. I figured he had a concussion and took him straight to urgent care. After waiting for an hour to get in, they assessed him and sent him to the ER. A CT scan later revealed he had a skull fracture and was actively bleeding in both the epidural and subdural layers of his brain. In just those few short hours, his brain had already shifted and we were told his condition was becoming life threatening.

He underwent emergency surgery, spent four days in the hospital, two weeks at home letting his brain rest, but has recovered remarkably well. This experience, however, has changed me. The thought of almost losing my son weighs down on me every day, and I have to actively push aside the what ifs and focus on the moments we have together instead.  I don’t know if my son will ever play baseball again, but I do know that the fact that he’s stayed so positive, never felt sorry for himself, and maintained a 4.0 with a traumatic brain injury is amazing. He’s shown me how truly strong a person can be when faced with extreme adversity. He’s not defined by the scar bearing the thirty staples he had in his skull. He’s proving, rather, that even at fifteen years old, he’s stronger than I’ve ever personally felt.

What he’s given me, and what his experience has shown me, is that each day holds the possibility to do amazing things. I no longer live for the weekend. Yes, Tuesdays still seem to be seventy-five hours long, but there’s so much time left in each day to just be happy. To forget about the ugliness in our world. To say I love you to the people who matter most. To forgive those who’ve hurt us. To believe anything is possible. To just live.

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Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Work of Art

Lately I’ve read a lot of articles and heard stories and beliefs about education. It is an election year, after all. One particular conversation that has stuck with me is the debate over public versus private education. It hit a nerve so deep that three days later I’m still thinking about it. Although I am a public school teacher, I have the distinction of experiencing both sides of the spectrum as I attended private Catholic schools from second grade through college. I loved my high school and the choice to attend Gonzaga University was one of the best decisions I’ve made. The memories I have of retreats and service opportunities, along with school-wide masses on Holy Days of Obligation are still significant moments which I’ll always hold onto.

I know private school is the best education for many students. Yes, it is expensive, and I admire those who choose to and have the means to pay for it. I paid for my own college education, and had the student loans to prove it for years. Although the Catholic schools I attended in grade and high school were nowhere near in cost as the current yearly tuition of some private schools where I live, where it runs upwards 15 thousand or more a year, I know the sacrifices my parents made at the time to make my education a reality. Likewise, I recall working in the high school cafeteria my freshman year to help pay for my schooling and sweeping bleachers after games each year after as part of my work study job. One time a group of girls from a neighboring school referred to my friends and me as “rich bitches.” It was such an odd thing to hear because I barely had five dollars to my name and was the furthest thing from being rich as we hadn’t yet had the money to purchase school clothes that fall.

I guess what’s bothering me about the comments I’ve read and heard recently are the insinuations that private schools are preferential in that their students receive more opportunities for future success. Additionally some believe that teachers in public schools have tenure so they’ve checked out of teaching, which is something that doesn’t happen in private schools.

I’m a public school teacher. I correct papers late at night, analyze data to help my students improve mandated test scores, take continuing education classes to better my teaching, collaborate with peers to improve instruction, spend hours preparing Guided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD) lessons that will benefit not only my English Language Learners, but entire class. I differentiate lessons so that I’m reaching both my highest and lowest learners, and all 23 in-between.

And every teacher I work with is doing the exact same thing.

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My students and my own children, who I’m also proud to say attend public school, deserve the same opportunities as anyone, whether in public or private school, and I’ll fight for that to happen. Not only because it’s right, but because they’re worthy.

What I’d really like for my students to know, and to understand, is that they are capable and that I believe in them. After all, isn’t each of us motivated by those around us? It’s such a powerful thing to hear the words, I know you can do it. I believe in you.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, if you go to private or public school, if you’re homeschooled. The knowledge that someone knows you can achieve success is huge. It’s empowering. It’s a beautiful thing.

I could tell people that the best way to prepare a child academically is to read to them when they are young. I could list stats proving the quality of early childhood education and the benefits of reading lap hours until I’m blue in the face, but it won’t change the reality that many adults have never sat down and read to a child. One of the most depressing sentences I’ve ever heard as a teacher is, “We don’t have any books,” followed by, “No one reads to me at home.” How are we as teachers expected to overcome that obstacle of making up years of early literacy awareness and development when we only have students for a handful of months? The truth is, we teach to the best of our abilities, because we care.

In public schools, we teach everyone. We never know who’s going to walk through our doors. Nor does it matter because we will work our butts off to teach each student in our class. We will advocate for them, buy shoes and clothing for them, make sure they have food to eat over the weekend when they go home on Friday, and yes, at the end of it all, we will teach them. No application or tuition required.

Most importantly, we will believe that each child, whether they want to be at school or not, is capable of growth.

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If I could let each of my students know one thing, it would be this:

You are a work of art. Your heart, your mind, your spirit are all artistic elements that make you the person that you are. I’m your teacher. I provide the medium to aid in your self-expression, the charcoal to outline your abilities, the shading to fill in the gaps that prepare you to move forward.

My job of teaching you isn’t always easy, although neither is your job of learning. Your lines are often blurred, and there are many times when I wonder if you’ll be ready to move on and continue with your craft.

You see, I’m a temporary fixture in what will be a lifetime of learning as you complete your greatest masterpiece- your education.

Although I hope for the best, I don’t know what road you’ll take, nor do I know if you’ll receive the same opportunities as another, despite your hard work. What I do know is that I’ll hurt for you when your test scores indicate that you didn’t pass despite making over a year’s worth of growth. I’ll check my email at night and will read the Google doc you sent me from the after-school program. I’ll continue to meet with you after every writing assessment so you know what grade I gave you and I’ll help you set an achievable writing goal for your next task. I’ll make a fool out of myself, singing and dancing if that’s what it takes, in order to motivate you to reach the next level. I’ll open the door for you every day with a smile, even on those days when I am so exhausted that I’m barely functioning. I’ll brag about you to my family and will spend a significant amount of my pay throughout the year to keep our classroom library stocked with books that interest you and teaching supplies that help you learn.

When we were on our way to the field trip and you pointed out graffiti on a bridge, I made you promise that you would never do that. I expect you to keep your promise. I also expect you to keep your promise to call 911 if you’re ever in danger, including riding in a car with someone who’s been drinking. I’ll protect you when you’re in my care and will pray for your protection when you’re not.

I’ll always welcome your first language in my classroom, your insight, your thoughtfulness, and your creativity. I’ll also expect you to apologize with meaning and to know the proper way to accept an apology while still conveying why you were hurt. I’ll teach you what it means to be empathetic and won’t let you forget to say please and thank you.

I won’t be surprised if you think I’m mean or I push you too hard. It’s just that I know how capable you are, and I won’t let you waste that ability. I’ll expect you to come to school. I’ll communicate with your parents, whether for good reasons or bad. I’ll hold you accountable. When you misbehave or don’t complete an assignment correctly because you chose not to listen to the directions, I’ll forgive you.

You are a work of art, and I believe in you. Please don’t ever forget that.

 

 

Guest Post: To the Girls Who Will Love My Sons

Today I’m excited and to have a guest post from a very talented Inspirational Christian writer,  Kristin White, who I’m also blessed to call my sister. Enjoy!

To the Girls who will Love my Sons,

I think about you a lot. I wonder if I already know you, or if I’ve given you a ride somewhere. I wonder if you used to spin until you wanted to throw up, and then watch the clouds pass in the sky. I wonder about your childhood. If someone has hurt you. If you feel loved. If you’ve met God, and know how much He loves you. I wonder if you even believe in Him. 

I wonder about your house. Do you share a room like my boys always did? Did you whisper to your sister into the night? Did you sneak a flashlight in to read “Harry Potter” under the blanket? I wonder if you had help with your homework and dinner at night.

Jonah and Danny

I wonder if you were alone a lot. I wonder if  you were never alone. Do you have good friends?  Do you have the kind of friends who are lovely and fill you up with love and acceptance? Friends, who you fall over yourself laughing. Who don’t care what you’re wearing. I wonder if your home is filled with love? Are you happy? Are your anxious? Do you laugh a lot?

I wonder if you roll your eyes at your Mother and slam doors because she “Doesn’t understand.” I wonder if you love your Dad and tell him that. I wonder if your parents are together. Or if you wonder where they are. I wonder if you remember them being in love. 

I wonder if you are bullied. I wonder if the words are texted on your phone. I wonder if the bullies are people you cared about. I wonder if you know that they are cowards. I wonder if you’ve watched someone be bullied or have hurt someone else with your words.  My heart hurts thinking you might have. 

I want you to know I pray for you. I pray for your protection…

In Mind…that the images of over sexualized people from “Angels,” to so called “fitness experts” on social media, to a world that is saturating us with too much skin and less depth do not change how you view yourself. That you don’t put so much pressure on yourself to be perfect, and that you remember to live. That you make eye contact and put down the phone.  That you read and learn every thing you can. And that you aren’t a prisoner to depression or anything that steals your joy. That you never ever compare yourself. And that you radiate confidence. 

In Body…that you love yourself. That you see yourself as a creation of God. That you exercise, but that you realize you look most beautiful when you are laughing because happiness is beautiful. That you embrace the parts of you that make you unique- scars and freckles, bumps and curves. And that you will love all of them. That won’t happen by magnifying  your self in a mirror, or taking the perfectly filtered selfies. 

In Spirit…that you will realize receiving love and giving love are two of the most beautiful gifts you can have. That you feel empathy for those in need, and serve them. That you have compassion for the broken, and love them. That you never compromise your integrity for a relationship, or a job, or a spot in this world. That you know that relationships don’t limit who you can talk to and be friends with, but encourage you to bloom. That you realize you are worth more than toxic people who will steal your joy and free spirit, in the name of love. But it won’t be love. I hope you know grace and humility. That you know how to say “I’m sorry” and how to forgive. And I pray that you will know brokenness enough to rely on God. Because He is the only way your spirit will flourish. 

To the Women who will Love my Sons…

From the moment that small little plastic strip showed a plus sign, they have been the center of my world. I would rest my hand across my stomach and speak to them, my little miracles. When each was born we named them intentionally. Names that meant something.

Kristin

One that can never hide from God.

One that God will always protect. 

And…

One that will always speak the Truth.

We are raising them to know and fear Him. To be kind to others. To fight for the vulnerable. To be compassionate to everyone. To honor people. To Serve. To thank people. To Love. 

They. Are. Not. Perfect.  But they are good. They love well, they are kind to their little sister, and to each other (most of the time, seriously…not perfect). And in life- they try so hard to do the right thing. And when they mess up…we expect them to make it right. We don’t enable, and I know this responsibility is big…this Raising a good man. This Raising Good Men. 

They know that true love exists. They are products of true love. A love I don’t deserve, but a love that has made a family. I want them to know that. I wonder if you will break their heart.

My beautiful Boys. With them I’ve cried tears of joy watching the years fly by, and wept with worry as I’ve pressed my cold hand against feverish foreheads…in these moments I have prayed with them. They know prayer. They know God. 

They know He is good. And kind. And merciful. And they want to follow Him. Not because they are told to, but because they know Him. 

And we are praying for you. Because maybe you will be a first great Love for them. Or maybe you will be the One. But regardless of where you will enter our lives,  we are praying for you.

 I want you to know that you are loved, and that you matter. We pray that you know your life is a gift.

I pray for you.  And I wonder about you.

For now, I am the woman who loves them most. I’ve loved them their whole lives and will continue for all eternity. And I won’t take a second of them for granted.

Jonah Danny Micah

Love, Their Mom. ❤️ 

 

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Kristin White writes and speaks what she knows. A Wife, Mother, Sister, inappropriate joker and Lover of Real, she is determined the shatter the misconceptions we have about our worthiness in this over-filtered-fast paced- pressure filled world. She sings back-up in an 80’s band, loves working out, has proud laugh lines for days, and is madly in love with God. Visit her Real at Joyful Mysteries.

 

 

Dining Gluten-Free at Social Events

I recently attended a military function with my husband. It was at a very nice venue and I was relieved when I discovered that they had a gluten-free menu option. For those of you who’ve never had the pleasure of eating out or attending a social event when you have to be gluten-free (sarcasm intended), consider yourself to be fortunate. I do not exaggerate when I say that it can be a very difficult experience. Not only is there the fear of cross-contamination and a subsequent gluten exposure, there is also the side effect of being starving and having nothing to eat for the duration of the event.

Side note. If you’re anything like me, you become a raging bitch when you’re starving, but that’s beside the point.

This was an event that required some mingling to visit with other military officers, soldiers, and their spouses, so my husband and I left our table and worked the crowd, so to speak. When we returned, my salad plate had been delivered, right beside my gluten-free sign. The salad was romaine lettuce, topped with shredded parmesan and buttery herb croutons.

The moral of the story…

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When attending a social event gluten-free, be very afraid.

Now, I don’t believe all social events to be like this. In fact, last summer I loved every bit of labeled gluten-free goodness at my cousin’s wedding reception. Occasionally you’ll come across knowledgeable chefs and wait staff, but the majority of these events are not special-order functions. It’s kind of like the old saying, “you get what you get, and don’t throw a fit.”

Therefore, I’ll share with you some of my tips for braving the buffet line gluten-free.

  • Try to contact the host of the event to see if gluten-free is an option before the evening of the party. Follow up with the manager of the venue to ensure that the chef knows that you have an allergy.
  • Eat something before you arrive so that you’re not starving in the event that gluten-free options are not available.
  • Pack protein snacks, such as almonds or cashews in your purse.
  • If consuming alcohol, stick with wine. Beer has barley, which contains gluten.
  • When dessert is served, ask if fresh fruit is an option.
  • If a food looks too good to be true- seasonings, gravy, crisp potatoes that were likely battered in flour- it probably is.
  • Trust your instincts. You know what makes you ill. Don’t be pressured into days worth of sickness because someone said you can’t leave without trying just one bite of decadent raspberry cheesecake.

Most importantly, do your research ahead of time and take care of your body because it’s the only one you have.

Do you have any tips of attending social events gluten-free? I’d love to hear them.