DIY Faux Shiplap Wall

Like many, I have always loved the show Fixer Upper. Basically anything Joanna Gains does I love, and when I discovered what a shiplap wall was I knew I wanted this in my home.

Luckily my husband is up for any home improvement project idea I throw at him and was ready to tackle this one. It was pretty easy and straight forward and we were finished within a day. Below are photos of the the walls before; plain, boring, ready for some shiplap! (Also, see if you can spot my dog Edgar in the photo above. I caught him sitting in his favorite spot behind the couch next to the window โ˜บ๏ธ)

We went to Home Depot looking for the cheapest wood option, found some thin underlayment ($12 a sheet) and asked the employee to rip each sheet into 6 in wide planks. My husband used his nail gun to attach each board to the wall. We started with the longest board on top and then cut the lengths to fill in and create a staggered looking pattern. We taped two pennies together and used these as spacers between each board as they were nailed to the wall.

**One thing to note, the employee at Home Depot did not rip each sheet exactly 6 in. wide, so half way through our project we nailed on a board that was 6.5 in., causing the corner where the two boards meet to be misaligned. I recommend double checking that each sheet is ripped the correct length or ripping the boards yourself so it is exact. (My husband wanted to redo this whole project because of the misalignment but I talked him into leaving it – I still love it!)

After the boards were nailed to the wall, we added trim, used putty to spackle the nail holes and then used a sprayer to paint the boards white. This tied everything together (we also replaced our floors, trim and bathroom door which are shown in the after photos). Below you can see the corner where the boards don’t align – maybe one day we will fix it!

Total Cost for Faux Shiplap Wall: $70!

Wedding Day Dreams

I didn’t shared many detail photos of our wedding last year and since my husband and I recently celebrated our 1 year anniversary I thought I would now. Plus, I created this blog as a way to look back and remember my adventures and this is definitely a day that I want to remember every detail from ๐Ÿ™‚ (FYI long post ahead).

Details

Venue: Trinity Tree Farm We got married at The Lodge at Trinity Tree Farm in Issaquah, WA and felt this was a perfect venue for us. An outdoor ceremony with Christmas trees as the backdrop and an indoor reception with classic white lights and plenty of space for our guests. We loved the PNW vibe mixed with a romantic and elegant feel.

Catering: The Tall Chef Tommy and I love to cook together. One of our favorite things to make is tacos because they are so delicious and also so easy to make. This led to an easy decision to have a taco bar at our wedding and it did not disappoint. (Jack from The Tall Chef is very talented – we have already used his catering services again for special occasions and a few of our friends are using him for their upcoming 2021 weddings).

Dessert: My husband had two best men at our wedding. He has known them and their families since elementary school. One of their moms is an amazing baker and created our wedding cake. She also made cupcakes for dessert. It was so much fun going to ‘tastings’ at her home. It felt so special to us that she was part of our day, since she is like Tommy’s second mom. And the cake was absolutely DELICIOUS!

Florals: BloomTara our florist was amazing! She sent us a mood board and completely nailed our my (lol) vision with blush and green tones. Fun fact, we met her about 4 years who when we first got our dog Edgar. She owns an indoor/outdoor Dog Park + Bar (check out my post Dogwood Play Park to learn more about her space). She created the bridal bouquets and gorgeous arbor. For our centerpieces, boutonnieres and sweetheart table, one of my bridesmaid’s mom was kind enough to make these. She is a master gardener and is incredible at what she does. The garden at her home looks like it could be out of a magazine. We felt so grateful she did this for us.

My grandma passed away in 2015 and left me her wedding ring which I tied to my bouquet.

Dress + Shoes: My wedding dress was from Dolce Bleu and I am so grateful for their help. Long story short, I found a dress at their store that fit me perfectly that they no longer carried. They offered to have the dress dry-cleaned since it was the store sample. When I picked up my dress it had a yellowish tint to it. They called around other boutiques, found the same dress/designer (Martina Liana) and ordered me a brand new one. It was definitely an ordeal but it all worked out in the end. My reception dress was from BHLDN and shoes were Jeffery Campbell.

Hair + Makeup: Since I had 7 bridesmaids + my mom and mother-in-law, we needed a couple of people to help us with our hair and makeup. Joey Van Pelt and my friend Alana did makeup and helped with hair. I met Joey about 8 years ago through a friend of a friend. Random fact, she was on Big Brother Season 16. She and Alana were great (love you Alana!). Leah from Zo and Co Styling did my hair. A couple of weeks before our wedding date, I got a ‘trim’ at a new salon nearby. The lady took off way more than a trim so I used Luxy Hair extensions and Leah ensured everything was blended and looked natural. We started hair and makeup early…I can’t remember the exact time but I want to say like 6am early. All worth it though especially since I got to spend even more time with my besties the morning of my wedding day!

Wanted to add some portraits of my hubby because he looks so good! He def did not wake up at 6am to get ready. Probably woke up around 10 or so, showered, got dressed and was ready to go.

DJ + Photo booth: DJ Daron I think a great DJ or Band is important for a wedding because they help keep things moving and keep the party going. Our DJ also offered photo booth services and this was such a blast. I have always loved photo booths at weddings, plus the photostrips make a great keepsake for guests.

Stationary: I used a template off Etsy to design our invitations and then printed them on CatPrint (much cheaper than Minted and great quality). I made the menus, fans and signs using the same template and just printed on my home printer with card stock. My favorite sign I made was our signature drink The Edgar because I wanted to somehow include our pup on our special day. Dogs were allowed at our venue but if you know Edgar you know that would have been a disaster waiting to happen.

Wedding Party Attire: Bridesmaid dresses were Show Me Your Mumu in blush. Groomsmen rentals were The Black Tux.

Gifts: The girls were given Bridesmaid Robes and Jean Jackets (check out my blog post Hand Painted Denim Jackets to read about how I made them). The boys were given Duke Cufflinks to honor one of Tommy’s best friend who passed away in 2015. My mom and dad were given Mother + Father Handkerchiefs. I gave my mom, step-mom and mother-in-law necklaces from one of my favorite jewelry shops, GLDN. We gave our officiant (Tommy’s friend growing up) this Custom Officiant Flask with his face on it.

Little Details: I think all the little details in a wedding make it that much more special. Some of my favorite from ours are: Advice for Marriage Book – My 2nd grade students wrote us marriage advice. I turned their advice into a book and absolutely cherish this. Corn Hole – My father-in-law designed and built this for us. Edgar’s Cantina Bar Sign – Because we love going to Mariner’s Games and we love our dog Edgar (I used my Cricut to make this). Kappa 2 Kanuch Sign – The first picture of Tommy and I taken together when we were 19 at a college house party. A gift from one of my best friends that now hangs in our home (didn’t get a pic of this). T+N Wine Glasses – A gift from my maid of honor which we now use for special occasions.

Lodging + Transportation: We stayed at The Marriot hotel in Bellevue because it was close to our venue. The night before our wedding, we got drinks in the lobby and went out to a restaurant close by with our bridal party and family. On our actual wedding day after we left the reception, a bunch of us went out to a bar close to the hotel to keep the party going. This made for a fun little wedding weekend. We used BMC Limos for transportation to and from The Tree Farm.

Photographer + Videographer: All the pictures I’m sharing on this post are from Luke and Mallory. Our friend Jens Bracht was our videographer. We are so happy with how our photos and video turned out! Below is our wedding video.

If you made it to the end of this blog post…wow, congrats because it was a long one! Hopefully if you are a bride in WA reading this, you found it helpful in planning your special day (I tried to link everything). I especially enjoyed writing this post because it brought me right back to our wedding day and gave me all the feels. Cheers to marriage. Cheers to planning weddings. And cheers to all the future brides. ๐Ÿ™‚

Hot Tub Boat Adventure – Seattle, WA

My husband Tommy and I celebrated 1 year of marriage last weekend! It’s so crazy to think a year has already passed by. I feel like we got married just yesterday and can’t believe how quickly time is going. I wanted to surprise Tommy with something fun and unique for our anniversary and stumbled upon Hot Tub Boats which is exactly as it sounds, a hot tub in a boat!

We rented our private Hot Tub Boat and cruised around Lake Union. It was SO MUCH FUN! Also so very easy to drive. There is a small joystick which you maneuver around to determine where you want to go. It felt like a video game. The boat goes about as fast as kayakers and felt very safe. It’s large enough to hold 6 people. There was also plenty of room around if we got too hot and wanted to sit outside the tub (I jumped into the lake to cool off).

We brought some boxed wine (super classy but ya know it’s a hot tub), put some music on the speaker and soaked in the views. Our rental was for 2 hours and this allowed us to make a loop by Gas Works Park and back.

We had an absolute blast! This was such a unique experience and definitely an adventure I won’t forget, especially to celebrate our 1 year of marriage. If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend renting a Hot Tub Boat, no matter what month it is. We are already looking forward to doing this again with a group of friends!

Classic at The Nile – A Golf Tournament and Fundraising Event

My husband came to me with the idea of creating a golf tournament a few weeks ago. He is an avid golfer and continues to get better every time he plays. I don’t golf (maybe one day) but I love planning, creating and organizing so we knew this event was something we could pull off. We then had the idea of turning the golf tournament into a fundraising event to help give back to the Black Lives Matter movement which we strongly support. This created Classic at The Nile.

The first step was choosing which organization to donate to. This was challenging because there are many amazing charities to choose from. We decided on American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) because of their core mission and values. “For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been our nation’s guardian of liberty, working in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.” Some other organization I discovered specifically focusing on supporting Black youth and education are Black Girls Code, Pretty Brown Girl (PBG), The Conscious Kid.

The golf tournament consisted of 6 teams with a 4 man scramble (24 people total). This means that all players teed off, chose which shot was best, then all played their next shot from the best location.

The players were each given a golf goody bag upon their arrival. I used Canva to create this custom invitation to put inside each bags.

My best friend and I spent the afternoon following the players around the course, documenting the tournament by taking photos and videos. We left about half way through the tournament so we could get everything set up for the banquet. I used 1 hour photo at Walgreens to print pictures of the teams and gave them to each player as a souvenir to take home.

After the scramble, the golfers headed over to the outdoor banquet located nearby at our friends property (They graciously helped and let us host there. It couldn’t have worked out better). We spaced out tables and chairs in order to property social distance and provided individually wrapped Tubs Sub Sandwiches along with other ‘Covid friendly’ snacks and drinks (all food was prepackaged and individually wrapped – thanks Costco).

And what’s a golf tournament without awards and prizes? Here is what was awarded:

  • Scramble Champion – $50 Amazon gift card for each player on the 1st place winning team
  • Longest Drive – $100 Gift Card to Puetz Golf Superstore
  • Closest to KP – $100 Gift Card to Puetz Golf Superstore
  • MVPGolf Chipping Net
  • Best TeammateMariners Seat Fleet cutout
  • Most ImprovedBluetooth Earbuds
  • Amazing Hospitality – Portable Speaker and Husky Golf Head Cover given to the family who owns the banquet property

My husband handed out certificates with each award which I created on Google Slides. You can download an editable copy of them here.

We also had two options to receive prizes at the banquet. One was a challenging chipping game where the goal was to chip a golf ball into a large bucket. One golfer was able to do this and he received a $50 Amazon Gift Card. The other was How Many? where golfers guessed how many golf balls were in a jar. The prize was a golf cooler bag to hold beverages on the course.

Classic at The Nile was an incredible success. We raised $2,000 for ACLU while safely hosting a competitive and fun golf tournament! I am so very proud of my husband and all of his hard work on this. We had a blast organizing and creating this special day and feel empowered that we could make a small impact in giving back to the Black Lives Matter movement. I’m already looking forward to planning next years event!

5 Common Myths About Teaching – From A Second Grade Teacher

Lately it feels like I have heard many opinions about teachers with schools being closed due to COVID-19 and the plans for reopening in September recently coming out. Opinions on what it takes to become a teacher, how hard/easy our job is, how much money we make. Opinions from politicians, parents, random people – many coming from those who are not actual teachers. So I thought I would put together a list to clear up five common misconceptions about teaching that I regularly hear and read about.

Myth #1: Teachers don’t make any money.

Money clipart stack, Money stack

I hear this phrase or some form of it all the time, “Why would you ever want to become a teacher? Teachers don’t make any money.” First, there are endless reasons why I became a teacher. Check out my blog on 10 Reasons Why I Love Being A Teacher if you’re curious about this. Second, this myth depends on so many factors. Where do you live? What district do you teach in? How many credits to you have? Do you have your Master’s Degree? Do you have your PhD? How many years have you been teaching? Do you have your National Boards? All these factor in with how much money a teacher makes. I’m very fortunate to work in a district where teachers are highly valued compared to other districts in the country and our pay reflects that. Starting salary for a first year teacher with a bachelors degree in Washington State (in my school district) is about $58,000 a year. After teaching for 14 years the salary jumps to about $124,000 (this does not include all stipends). I know $124,000 isn’t much compared to an Amazon or tech employee, but I feel many can live happily and comfortably off this salary.

Regardless though, the teachers I know don’t teach for the money. So please stop asking teachers, “Why would you ever want to become one since you don’t make any money?” Instead, try asking teachers what they love about their job or what drew them to the profession.

Myth #2: Teachers constantly work every weekend and at home each night.

Tired teacher clipart ยป Clipart Station

Sure, this was true for me with my first year teaching. I spent hours working at home after school. Many times I would go to my classroom on the weekend, creating resources and making sure I was prepared for the following week. Designing, laminating, cutting. I was fresh out of college, learning what I needed for my students and was learning what I needed from myself. Now, eight years later I don’t need to go to my school after hours. I try to leave at 4 pm each day (our designed time) and I don’t take home unnecessary work. Over the years I’ve learned how to successfully manage my time throughout the day so that I can feel accomplished while I’m at school. It’s all about time management. This being said, who knows what this year will bring since teaching and learning will take on a whole new environment with at-home learning. Bring on the challenge!

Myth #3: Once teachers have their degree, they don’t need to learn anything new.

Getting a teaching degree is the first step to becoming a teacher but it is certainly not the last. In Washington State, once you earn your degree and pass your tests, you are awarded with a residency certificate that is valid for 3 years. During that time, the goal is to earn a continuing contract where you then renew your residency certificate every 5 years. In order to renew your certificate, teachers must have at least 100 clock hours and complete the STEM renewal requirements. Clock hours are earned through professional development trainings, seminars, online workshops, etc. Clock hours also help teachers earn credits and move up on the pay scale. This means that teachers are consistently taking classes, participating in book studies, attending trainings, etc., to further develop their knowledge and teaching practices. Many teachers are in this profession because they enjoy learning and enjoy growing. And think about it – in March teachers were required to drop everything they knew and were comfortable with and learn how to teach kids remotely in a matter of days. If this isn’t resilience I don’t know what is.

Myth #4: Teaching is easy because teachers just teach the same thing each year.

To me, one of the most amazing things about being a teacher is that each year is so different. Different kids. Different families. Different learning styles. Different behaviors. Different strengths. Different struggles. No two years are ever alike. One year I had a student who came into 2nd grade not knowing his letters and sounds. The following year I had a student reading at a 5th grade reading level. Another year I had a student who didn’t speak English and a different year I had a student who didn’t speak at all (selective mutism). These are only a few of the many examples of how each year is so very different (just think about Spring 2019 to Spring 2020 – WOW!). Teachers are constantly adjusting their practice and their instruction to meet the direct needs of their students for that particular year. This skill is far from easy.

Myth #5: Anyone can become a teacher.

Double heart light purple heart clipart free images - WikiClipArt

This one really causes me to pause. Anyone can become a teacher? Anyone? I hear people say this all the time. Or there’s that other saying, ‘Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.’ In my experience, those who say this have never actually been in a classroom before and have no idea what it is like. To me, it’s not just about the what you are teaching. Sure, many people could teach a child how to add numbers – But what if that child has a learning disability? Or has a hard home life and can’t concentrate at school? What do you do if the child recently lost a family member and is acting out in the classroom? It’s not just about the what you are teaching but more importantly it’s about the how. How you interact with your students. How you model the behaviors that you want the kids to exhibit. How you teach young 7 and 8 years old to collaborate. To communicate. To have empathy. To show generosity. To demonstrate teamwork. To show kindness to one another. Anyone can spew out facts, but few can be called a teacher.

Teaching isnโ€™t just a job, it’s a lifestyle – a calling. And those of us who do it and do it well canโ€™t imagine doing anything else!

DIY Half Bath Makeover

This whole bathroom makeover idea started when my husband tore out our old carpet and replaced it with Luxury Vinyl Plank. We replaced the floors in the upstairs hallway, the stairs and the entire downstairs, including our small guest bathroom.

To install the vinyl plank flooring in the guest bathroom, my husband had to remove the toilet and the old pedestal sink. Once the sink was out, he was adamant about replacing it with something else, and kept saying it didn’t feel right to put back after we had finished installing the floors. So…bring on the half bath remodel!

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The first step was tile. I had always loved the classic look of white subway tile and decided this would be an inexpensive way to elevate and upgrade the entire space. Plus, I thought it would be a fun project to do while we were in quarantine and I was excited to learn a new skill. I ordered everything needed, watched this Youtube Video and went for it! I am thrilled with the results and want to share a few important elements that really helped with this project.

1. Ledger Board. A ledger board is used to support the primary row of tile at the base. This makes it very easy to start tiling and to make sure everything is even and level. My husband measured how high our baseboard would be and nailed in the ledger board there.

2. Tile Template. There is probably a simple math equation I could have used to determine where to cut the end tiles and ensure even spacing but I am a visual person. Instead, I created a template of three rows since I wanted the tiles staggered. I measured out the length of the wall then taped that length on the floor. From there I arranged the tiles out to both ends of the tape so I would know where to make the end cuts.

3. Right Size Tile Spacers. I ordered the Horseshoe Spacers and couldn’t recommend them enough. I went with a smaller grout line (1/16 in.) since the subway tile already has grooves on the sides and felt like this helped hide some imperfections.

4. Paper towels. A little obvious but having lots of paper towels available and ready helped tremendously when I accidentally spilled mortar (on the tile, floor, all over my hands) and I was able to quickly clean it up each time before it dried.

I definitely recommend tiling yourself for anyone who is interested in doing some home improvements (it’s not as hard or daunting as people say, plus you will save a bunch of $$$)! After the tile was dry, grouted, cleaned and sealed, it was time to put everything back and add the finishing touches. Below is a price breakdown of what was spent for this makeover.

Tile: Some of these products we already had on hand when we retiled our fireplace (will share a blog post on that later!).

Total cost for all tile + materials: $242

Flooring: As stated earlier, we decided to continue the vinyl floors in the bathroom to make it easier to install and to have the entry way flow. This also helped us save some money. We used LifeProof Tupelo Oak vinyl flooring.

Bathroom Accessories: Paintings – My husband lived in New Orleans for a couple months when we first started long distance dating about 7 years ago. He found these colorful painting at a street market and I thought this would be the perfect place to hang them

Bathroom Vanity + Faucet: I found a beautiful brand new monarch blue bathroom vanity on Offer Up for $200. You can find it on Wayfair (original price is around $530). I purchased the Glacier Bay Bathroom Faucet in Matte Gold to match the vanity, $60.

I couldn’t be happier with the way this half bath turn out! Beautiful, affordable, updated and fun to complete. Now, on to the next project. ๐Ÿ™‚

Beautiful Weekend Getaway to Lopez Island

If you live in Washington, chances are you’ve heard of the San Juan Islands. The islands are between Washington State and Vancouver Island, Canada. Surrounded by scenic shorelines, mountain vistas, endless Evergreen Trees and beautiful views. This is definitely a place to visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The three most popular islands are Orcas, (where my husband and I went for our mini honeymoon – read about that trip here), San Juan and Lopez Island. About a 2 hour drive north from Seattle, you’ll head to Anacortes to catch a ferry and will then experience one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the state (seriously, the views are incredible!). I highly recommend making a ferry reservation so you are guaranteed a spot to board. Depending on which island you choose to visit, the ferry lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

My husband and I initially planned our trip to Lopez Island for our friends wedding. Being the planner that I am, I booked us a place to stay last year when we received the save the date in the mail. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the wedding was rescheduled. We still had our reservation booked. So we decided…why not? Let’s keep our reservation and go there anyway since we’d never been. We also decided to bring our pup Edgar to make this trip a little family weekend getaway.

We stayed at a quaint Garden Cottage next to Lopez Center. If we ever go back to Lopez Island, I will definitely be booking this spot again! The charming cottage was within walking distance to the beach, the farmers market (which we quickly realized is the place to be Saturday morning) and close to the main restaurants. We spent our time at the cottage sunbathing in the garden and listening to the sounds of nature while drinking mimosas.

When we got off the ferry, the first thing we noticed about Lopez Island is how flat it is. This makes it a great place for bike riders who want to explore the island without a car. You could even do this as a day trip – bring your bike on the ferry no reservation needed, bike around and then catch the ferry back that night. We brought our bikes on this trip but didn’t bike around as much as we wanted since we had Edgar. The one time we brought him with us on a short bike ride, he saw a bunny and zoomed away racing as fast as he could trying to catch it (luckily he didn’t but I did end up chasing after him in a panic).

Lopez Island aka Bunny Island is full of so many bunnies! Tommy and I saw over 100 hopping in the fields, crossing the roads and burring themselves in burrows. Edgar especially enjoyed watching (and chasing) them.

Not only are the roads perfect for bikers and the endless bunnies surrounding the fields great for nature lovers, but Lopez Island also offers many trails with family friendly hikes. Tommy and I went to IceBerg Point in the morning which is a short trail that takes you out to a gorgeous cliff surrounded by water. We even saw a couple of sea lions. In the evening we went to Shark Reef to catch the colorful sunset that lite up the evening sky.

Overall if I had to pick between Orcas and Lopez, I prefer Orcas Island. It felt like there was more energy compared to the Lopez Island vibe, which is definitely more laid back and slow paced. The restaurants and stores close very early. The main grocery store closed at 7:30pm and the ice cream shop closed at 5pm. I don’t know if this is their COVID-19 hours or if this is the norm. There isn’t as much to do on Lopez Island but that is typically the reason people travel there in the first place. To relax and unwind, which we definitely did.

Sunshine, the smell of salt water, sand in our toes, garden flowers, beautiful views and our pup running around in absolute heaven made Lopez Island a great little weekend getaway.

Ain’t No Party Like A Disco Party!

Welp, it happened. I can no longer say, “I’m in my 20s” because last week I turned 30. THIRTY! Everyone always says this is such a big birthday. A milestone. A new chapter. That once you hit 30 you become an adult. What does that even really mean? (#foreveryoung) I was honestly looking forward to turning 30 because I love birthdays and celebrations in general. Plus most of my friends are already 30 so I was looking forward to joining the club.

Originally I wanted to spend my birthday traveling with my husband. When this was no longer an option due to everything going on in the world, I thought it would be fun to go to the beach or go someplace close to get away. From my 14th to 18th birthday, every year for 5 years I had a party at the beach/park close to where I grew up. We would swim, float, play games, run around in the sand + sunshine and of course eat endless fried chicken. If you are reading this and you know me from high school, chances are you were at the beach one of those years. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well instead of a beach party, my close friends and I decided to rent a house for the weekend about 2 hours away from Seattle. We had a themed Disco Dance Party and it was absolutely AMAZING! Seriously. So much fun.

We stayed at the most beautiful rental in Leavenworth, WA. Right on the river. Private beach. Hot tub. VolleyBall Court. BBQ. And enough bedrooms for everyone to sleep comfortably – because ya know, we’re 30 now and sleep is important.

We spent the days at the beach, blew up a bunch of inner tubes and floated on the river. When I say floated I mean we were either tied up to a rock or my husband ‘rope boy’ was making sure we were all attached and pulling us along. Well, until that moment when we weren’t and tried riding the current. A couple of us went a little too far but luckily rope boy ran down and got everyone before the extreme rapids. Later we barbecued, went in the hot tub, popped some champagne and played games. The day turned into a little beach party after all.

Saturday night was DISCO TIME! My thoughtful sister-in-law surprised me by bringing decorations for the living room Disco. All the classic 70s music was playing, pictures everywhere, balloons, glow sticks and of course the disco lights. She also had everyone contribute to a 30 Things We Love About You gift which made me feels so special (I made myself wait until I got home to read them because I knew I would get emotional. The night before I got teary-eyed when everyone was singing happy birthday. I was completely overtaken with happiness from being surrounded by my friends. Just feeling so very, very grateful and literally couldn’t speak. Tears of joy โค๏ธ ).

Everyone dressed up in 70s inspired outfits. Jumpsuits, Sparkles, Hoops, Fur, Tie-Dye, Bell-Bottoms, Sunglasses, Gold Chains, Wigs. Just the best.

We danced + sang all night. I had an absolute blast and still can’t stop thinking about all the fun moments from the weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to enter this ‘new chapter’ of 30s. I have a feeling it’s going to be great.

4th of July on Lake Washington

When I think about the 4th of July, fireworks, BBQ’s and sunshine typically come to mind. I think about coming together on this holiday and spending time with loved ones. This year though, making plans to celebrate the 4th of July felt…different. Not only are we in the middle of a pandemic but leading up to this holiday, thousands of people across America have marched to protest the death of George Floyd, police brutality and systemic racism.

When the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, many Black American ancestors were still slaves. I question – what is this holiday truly about? Is it mainly for White people to celebrate their patriotism? How are Black, Brown and Indigenous people represented? How can I celebrate freedom and independence when this is not the case for everyone, even today in 2020?

Leading up to this 4th of July I thought about these questions frequently. I talked with my family to understand their thoughts on this while scrolling Instagram to try to share other peoples perspectives with them, and to learn more. Instead of having a big typical 4th of July celebration, Tommy and I decided to spend the day with our close friends. It didn’t quite feel right completely decking ourselves out in patriotic clothing so we opted not to. We went to an outdoor BBQ in the afternoon then later cruised around Lake Washington and caught the sunset on our friends’ boat.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time! We ate the most delicious slow cooked brisket and the classic BBQ foods (hot dogs and all the salads..fruit salad, mac salad, pasta salad). Tommy jumped into Lake Washington off of the Bow even though the water was frigid. We watched the sun go down behind the trees while seeing pockets of fireworks light up the sky above local docks. Also the moon has never been brighter. It was a truly beautiful night.

So I think about the 4th of July today, and yes – there is a lot to celebrate. But there is also a lot of work to do. I think it’s important that we keep listening and keep having the tough conversations with each other as we reflect on what this holiday is all about.

10 Reasons Why I Love Being A Teacher

On Friday I finished my last Zoom meeting with my second graders for the 2019-2020 school year. So many smiles, lots of laughs, a couple of tears and so much love. I can’t believe the school year has already ended. Hopefully this is the first and last year it will end online with a Zoom meeting (crossing my fingers we can teach in person in the fall). As I reflect back on the year, I think about just how much I love this job. Below are 10 reasons why.

1. EACH DAY IS NEW AND EXCITING.

Some people enjoy a 9-5 routine job in an office (and that’s great!). For me though this is not the case. I love that as a teacher, each day is new and fresh from the previous one as no two days are ever alike. Some days are challenging, some are spectacular and some might fall somewhere in between. It’s very difficult to have a boring day at work when you are a teacher (the time often flies by). You always leave with at least one exciting, funny, or interesting story to share. This is true even with virtual learning through Zoom meetings!

2. THERE IS A ROOM FULL OF SMALL HUMANS SO EAGER TO SEE YOU EACH MORNING.

Have you ever woken up on the wrong side of the bed? I know I have. Typically when I have these mornings I feel cranky up until I am greeting by my smiling kiddos. “Mrs. Kanuch! Mrs. Kanuch! Did you know I got a new pet?” “Guess what Mrs. Kanuch, I won my soccer game last night!” “Hi Mrs. Kanuch! How are you? How is Edgar?” “Mrs. Kanuch, can we play Kahoot today?!” It’s hard to have a bad morning when each day you are greeted with so much excitement and enthusiasm (especially on a Monday when the kids haven’t seen you for two days). I love this about my job. It’s seriously the best!

3. YOUR CO-WORKERS + TEAMMATES BECOME YOUR BEST FRIENDS.

Being a teacher is hard work. It’s important to have people who you can talk to throughout the day and vent to when things become challenging at school. People who know what it’s like when you are dealing with a difficult parent or behavior problem. Who you can lean on and who can give you advice when you need it most. You also need people to share successes, dress up and have fun with! To exchange ideas and grow with. My most memorable friends are those who Iโ€™ve learned from, laughed with, and who have made each school day a bit brighter (plus we always have the best times together outside of the classroom). Love all the teachers in my life!

4. KIDS ARE VERY BLUNT AND HONEST.

I remember one year reading a story called Bugs in my Hair by David Shannon. It’s all about lice. One of my students stood up out of no where and said, “Yeah uh I had lice. Yes me, I had lice. This is why, you see…my head is shaved (as he’s rubbing his head). My hair is gone because of those lice.” The way he said this was so matter of fact and so serious (honestly it was hard for me to keep a straight face). Another student came up to me randomly, “Um, do you know why I was in the bathroom so long? (gets real close and whispers in my ear) I poooed” and then she did a smirk face ๐Ÿ˜. Lipstick on your teeth? Hair out of place? 7-year-olds got your back. One year I was thinking about writing a book on ‘Things Second Graders Say‘ because there is honestly no filter. Kids are hilarious without even trying! And when they tell you you are beautiful + nice + kind, you know they really mean it.

5. YOU ARE TREATED LIKE ROYALTY.

Teacher walks down the hall. Student whispers to a friend, “Look! That’s Mrs……, she’s so and so’s teacher! I know her!!” All the kids know who you are. Anytime you are passing by and a student sees you, they will say hi. Half the time you aren’t even sure who the child is but of course you say hi back. A teacher drops something on the ground? 10+ kids will immediately run over to pick it up. End of the year yearbook signing? There is always a huge line of kids waiting for you to sign your name. Yep, just your name. A student sees you walking toward a door? They will wait an extra 30 seconds before you get there, just to make sure they can hold it open for you.

6. YOU GET TO CELEBRATE ALL THE THINGS.

  • Harvest Party? โœ”๏ธ
  • Christmas? Ramadan? Diwali? โœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธโœ”๏ธ
  • Valentine’s Day AKA best day ever in 2nd grade? โœ”๏ธ

Celebrating holidays as an adult is great. But celebrating them with a room full of kids? SO MUCH FUN! The best part is learning about the different cultures and traditions individual students celebrate each year. Not only do we celebrate holidays in second grade but we celebrate accomplishments throughout the day. Published a narrative story? That calls for a writing celebration! Finished our geometry unit? Let’s celebrate by building 3D shapes out of toothpicks and marshmallows! Met our reading goals? Free choice partner reading time! As a teacher, it’s easy to find something each day to celebrate – big or small – since kids are constantly growing. It’s amazing to be able to watch your students grow and achieve their goals, and to be proud that you were part of the process that helped them get there.

7. THAT FEELING WHEN A STUDENT HAS THAT ‘AHA’ MOMENT.

This is what it is all about. Maybe you have been working for months with a student to help him with his blends and digraphs. Or a child has been struggling with subtracting 3-digit numbers. They may begin to feel discouraged and say things like, I don’t get it. This is too hard. I’ll never be able to do this. You try teaching them the skills in different ways to meet their direct needs. You encourage them. You support them. You never give up on them. Then suddenly….they get it! Aha, I did it! I’m so proud of myself! I can do this! Here, let me show you how I can do this! That feeling of helping your students find success is absolutely amazing.

8. YOUR INNER CREATIVE SIDE GETS TO COME TO LIFE.

From setting up your classroom before school starts, making anchor charts, creating class systems, displaying student work in the hallway, making unique bulletin boards, designing engaging lessons, throwing parties/celebrations, teaching outside the box, etc. – being creative occurs in all aspects of teaching. I love the freedom we are given as teachers to design and create our own work environment.

9. YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY SO MUCH LOVE.

It’s so rewarding to be able to work in an environment where you are surround with love from 20+ little humans. They tell you all the time by saying things like, I love you! You’re the best! Best teacher ever! I wish you could come to my birthday party! I want to stay in your class forever! My very first year teaching I created a ‘Love Book’ and since then I have filled it with art + pictures + letters that my students have given me throughout the years. Sometimes during a busy or stressful day, I can open up that book and it instantly puts a smile on my face.

10. YOU MAKE AN IMPACT ON LIVES EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Do you remember your second grade teacher? What about your third? Fourth? Or any teacher who had a positive impact on your life? I know I do. I can’t tell you all the concepts I learned in second grade or what specific skills were taught, but I do remember lots of little things. Like how I misspelled the word ‘Halloween’ on the spelling test and how I was always so nervous to be called on during reading groups. Most importantly though, I remember the way I felt being in that classroom: safe, happy and loved.

Teachers impact the lives of students in more ways than they may ever know. A student might hear the words, I am proud of you. I believe in you. I care about you. for the first time ever from their teacher. Teachers teach beyond the textbooks and curriculum. They teach students how to collaborate, how to problem solve, how to express their thoughts and their ideas. They teach students how to learn from their mistakes, to be kind to each other, to have empathy, to stand up for what is right. These skills are so important, especially with the state of the word we are in right now. Having a positive impact on students’ lives every single day is one of the greatest gifts of being a teacher. ๐Ÿ’ž