It was a tranquil morning at Arlington National Cemetery. We had the privelage of presenting a wreath from our school during the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Four students were selected by a committee of teachers based on essay applications to be a part of the ceremony. Several of their parents flew to DC to surprise them that morning at the cemetery. This was such a peaceful morning of touring gravesites of people like John Glenn, JFK, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Robert E. Lee, Thurgood Marshall, and the grandfather of one of our students. As we walked through the site I was so impressed by the respect that was shown by the students toward the fallen heroes of our country.
Iwo Jima and The White House
On the way to the White House we stopped at several monuments outside of the city. Iwo Jima’s statue is a famous one as it honors all fallen soldiers from the US Marines since its inception. This statue is modeled after a famous image from the Korean War. Because you cannot drive up to the White House, the buses dropped us off at Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was shot and we walked from there to the White House. At this point, we had some time before our evening activities so we relaxed on the lawn and took in the sight of the White House for a while.
Our final night’s activity was aimed at getting students’ energy out before the journey home the following day. We split into small teams and bowled at a local alley. Initially, we had hoped to view Sheer Madness, but due to Covid restrictions were unable to go to the Kennedy Center.
Day Three was the longest of the trip. We packed so much into those hours and logged over 20,000 steps for the day. The bus dropped us off at the Jefferson Memorial in the morning and picked us up outside of the Smithsonians in time for dinner. We were on foot all day and thankful for beautiful weather.
Landmarks and Memorials
On our walking tour of downtown DC, we saw the Jefferson Memorial, FDR Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Korean War Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Washington Monument…all before lunchtime and then US Capitol Building in the afternoon. It was a fast-paced foot tour, but we packed in as much as possible and gave the students a few minutes to explore at each site.
After lunch, we visited many museums that frame the National Mall. On our way to the final stop, we hit a patch of rain for about ten minutes, but otherwise the entire day was absolutely beautiful. During our museum tour we spent 45 minutes to an hour at each of these sites: Musuem of American History, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Museum of Natural History, and we ended the day with a tour of Embassy row en route to the Air and Space Museum.
Dave and Buster’s
Students and chaperones were able to blow off steam following the long day of touring by finishing the day at Dave and Buster’s. The group was served a buffet-style dinner and each student had a prepaid game card. My favorite part about this stop is that I bounced from group to group taking photos and making sure each student had a shot of them enjoying the arcade.
The second leg of our DC trip began bright and early. Each morning we congregated in the ballroom of our hotel to hear about the plans for the upcoming day and to hear announcements. With a group of over 120 students and staff members, there was also a birthday to celebrate each day and so we would sing to show gratitude for the birth of members in our group.
The morning started with a trip to the home of George and Martha Washington along the Potomac. Mount Vernon is a beautiful manor that has been kept relatively true to the way Washington would’ve experienced the home. Our morning tour included the symphony of nature with birdsong and water running below the estate.
Army and Marine Museums
The Army Museum is a relatively new stop on the DC Itenerary. We were fortunate enough to get the inside scoop on exhibits and artifacts from a local friend who works as a photographer for the museum. Scott now lives in Arlington, but previously lived in our town (and his stepson is married to my sister.) With this special tourguide we were able to learn to that the first ever humvee was placed on the floor of the museum. Additionally, all of the mannequins of soldiers were designed using body casts of real soliders. They were so lifelike that students questioned whether or not they were human.
Time Out for Facetime
The hardest part of the trip for me was leaving behind my family. Although I was busy all day every day I found small pockets of time to Facetime my girls and my husband back home.
The night wrapped up with the “Spirit of Mount Vernon” moonlit cruise along the Potomac. We were served a buffet of chicken, pasta, and vegetables and then a DJ brought music to the floor as we enjoyed ourselves as a group. The experience of witnessing the students dress up and have a great time was priceless. Somewhere in the ether there lurks a video of a chaperone dance that may haunt me for the rest of my life. But it was so much fun!
Over the past week I chaperoned a group of 121 high school students in Washington DC. Each day this week I will recap that trip with photos and descriptions day-by-day. Although I have visited DC on several occassions, this was a trip of a lifetime. I was able to walk along the nation’s capital with some of my closest teacher friends and current students. Generally, this is a middle school trip, but because our ninth and tenth grade students were robbed of this experience due to Covid-19 our district approved an additional trip this year to give these students an opportunity to tour the city.
Flight 93 Memorial
We travelled using the Executive Charter bus company out of Cincinatti, Ohio. With stops every two hours, we stretched our legs and gave the amazing drivers a break. Without stops, this journey would take approximately 6 hours.
In Pennsylvania, we put on the Flight 93 movie for students to watch so that as the film finished, we pulled up to the memorial in Shanksville, PA. This experience was highly immersive and emotional.
Our head chaperone was meeting us in DC because he also chaperoned an 8th grade trip that concluded the same day as our arrival. He met us outside of the Pentagon brandishing our school flag.
We gathered as a group and discussed the importance of the Pentagon especially in the timeline of the September 11th attacks. Then, we turned students loose to explore the memorial on the grounds. After a day on the bus this was a great chance to get our legs moving and students enjoyed the opportunity to pair off and pay tribute to those whose lives were lost in this horrific act of terrorism.
That was the end of our first day in Washington DC. From the Pentagon, we traveled to the hotel, got situated in our immaculate rooms, and ordered pizzas. Tomorrow, I will share the second leg of the journey with you.
Some weeks it feels like I am crawling to the finish line. This is one of those weeks. Spring break starts tomorrow and I’m dragging. Which is why having the Five Minute Friday community is awesome! It’s a built-in date with positive writers and a cup of coffee each week. This week our prompt is: Explore.
On Tuesday morning I will be joining 120+ students from the high school where I teach on a tour of Washington DC. We board coach buses in Ohio bright and early and by dinner time we will be in the US capital city. I am most excited about chaperoning this trip along with some of my friends. As history teachers, I fully expect us to nerd out at places like the Smithsonian and African American History Museum.
The last time I was in DC was college. I planned a trip for a Government course I took and we met with someone from the Senate on that trip. In high school, a family friend was married in the city and so I took a brief trip then as well. And of course, I attended my own 8th grade trip way back in…well, a while ago.
This trip is a special one. Usually the DC trip is an 8th grade adventure, but because the current freshman and sophomore classes did not get to go (due to Covid) our district and trip coordinator worked together to make sure these students get the opportunity to explore the city that is so critical to America and our history as a nation.
So please say a little prayer for my safety and sanity as I embark on a five day excursion with students and colleagues.
Just in time for a new month’s spread, I received my Amanda Rach Lee Acrylograph markers (from her collaboration with Archer & Olive). If you are not familiar with Amanda Rach Lee, she is basically the queen of bullet journaling and has her own brand online. She partnered with the famous stationery brand, Archer & Olive, to create exclusive colors for their Acrylograph paint markers. Not only are the tones aligned to Amanda’s muted pastel aesthetic, but she also designed a unique tin for storing the markers with her signature doodles. Aren’t they beautiful!?!
After polling my Instagram followers, I used their feedback to decide on the theme of “April Showers.” This theme worked well with my new Acrylographs. I did the title in Rustic Brown. The clouds were outlined in Mellow Tangerine, the sun and its rays were done in Pastel Sun and the rain was done in Vintage Denim. Faded Pear was used on grass and flower stems and the florals were done in several of the brighter hues like Lilac Fields and Pink Quartz. I left a lot of negative space on the page to keep it clean and to make sure that the center of the cover page was the illustration with my new favorite markers.
This simple calendar layout is my go-to. I’ve been using a 5×5 grid spacing calendar throughout 2022. I like the way I have plenty of space for writing out upcoming events. The margins are for more detailed planning or things to be remembered for this month. I alternated between several Acrylograph colors when numbering the days of the month.
Fitness and Diet Tracker
Each day gets a horizontal line in this spread. On the left hand side, I numbered the dates vertically and then left space to fill in workouts and notes. On the right side, I wrote out my eating goals and left space to mark off the foods from my diet that I consume in their respective categories.
Another very simple spread here. Just a basic drawing using the Acrylographs and the dates fill this half-page spread. I use this space to track the posts that I publish throughout the month and to plan upcoming posts.
This rolling weekly layout was inspired by The Plant Based Bride. On the first page, there is space to record upcoming events for the week. Additionally I used this space to jot down things to keep in mind. On the second page, I use the task migration system and habit trackers to make sure that I am productive and efficient throughout the week. These are great spaces to quickly make note of what needs done and any tasks that have been completed.
We have made it to the conclusion of another work week. It’s Friday morning and I am amped up to join my FMF community for our weekly link-up. The encouragement I receive from these writers is unlike any other writing community I have been a part of. Each week I can count on blessings from other members in my inbox and I am thankful for their wisdom and prayers in my growth as an author. This week we are writing on the prompt: Coffee.
If you know me in-real-life you know that I spend quite a bit of my day with a mug or tumbler of coffee in my hand. I’ve moved beyond addiction to the smooth, warming goodness and would say we have a very cordial friendship, Coffee and I. For two years I have been dairy-free (or more accurately dairy-limited) and so I’ve learned to drink my coffee black. Sometimes my order is met by funny looks at restraunts or coffee counters, but I’m proud of myself for not needing to add the unhealthiest elements of the drink to my cups.
Because I do not mask my coffee with cream and sugar I am a bit of a coffee snob. I don’t really like the “cheap stuff” from the grocery store because I can’t hide the acidity or strange taste under the charm of add-ins. Since being introduced to the Ohio-based coffee company, Silverbridge, I have fallen in love with their flavored coffees due to the subtle hints of delciously unique flavors. I decided to share with you my three absolute favorite bags of coffee to purchase for home brewing from Silverbridge Coffee Company:
Jude is a young girl living in Syria. Her love for family and home are challenged by the political turmoil in her town and the violence erupting in the streets. When her mother finds out that she is expecting another child, Jude’s father sends his girls to live with family in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Ohio might as well be another planet because at first Jude and her mother are treated like aliens. They try to assimilate into American culture all while clinging to the most important parts of their Syrian life. Friendships are hard for Jude at first, but as she develops her English skills in an ESL classroom she meets other students who have left their homelands behind for the promise of safety.
A story of coming-of-age during immigration to America is what sets this lyrical book apart from others in the genre.
A couple of things to note if considering this book for a young audience:
-Jude starts her period and begins wearing a hijab. The language here is not very graphic, but may not be suitable for elementary school readers.
-Violence is not depicted explicitly, but Jude’s brother, Issa, is involved with a Syrian rebellion and she worries for his safety often.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book from the Newbery List. As a high school teacher, middle grade fiction is not a genre I gravitate toward and so this was something different to break up my ensemble of YA and Literary fiction. Because this book was written for a younger audience it was a quick read. Additionally, it is a book written in verse which limits the word count on each page. This is a good option for reluctant readers because the plot is easy to follow and the words-per-page are manageable and help propel the reader quickly through the story.
I gave this book a 4-star rating on Goodreads. If you like my reviews and want to read some more, follow me on Goodreads. Also, if you follow me you can see which reviews are soon to come. If you are looking for a recommendation on what to read next, I’d love to connect on the app!
We all have that one friend who is an Enneagram Seven. These are the people who make us smile during tough times. They always seem to see the silver lining and pack their schedules full of events and adventures to indulge their desires as an adrenaline junkie. For me, some of best friends are sevens. Because (as a One) I tend to overthink and find security in following rules, I admire those who swallow their fears and live with a sort of lightness that I could never achieve.
As I read this chapter about Enneagram Sevens I am reminded that just because they seem outwardly optimistic, that Sevens struggle as all of us do with negative emotions. The difference between Sevens and the rest of the Enneagram numbers is that Sevens tend to use energy and experiences to mask the effects of pain, fear, and failure. I am reminded as I read this chapter that although I turn to my Seven friends for comfort in my difficult times that I must allow them space to be negative too.
This month, I wanted to give a glimpse into what you can expect to see as a member of this Patreon page in the future. Some of my works will be fictional, however, this is a piece I’ve written that is based on my experience with a very special student. She and her parents have given permission for this to be shared. I hope this piece touches your heart the same way that MaKenzie touches mine.
Starting in May, only Patrons will be able to view and access the monthly short story. These will be original pieces written and edited by Lauren Sisley of The Ameri Brit Mom. If you want to see more, exclusive works and want to support the launch and construction of this new business please consider pledging to my Patreon page.
It’s an easy transaction–you set the price and I create the content.