Hi – A Reentry Blog Post

You can’t find your voice if you don’t use it. Or so says Austin Kleon. Lately, I haven’t been using my voice as much as I would like. I want to write, to reflect, to tell my story, to show my work.  I want to write about my work and my family and books and cheese…you know…the important things.

I keep getting stuck, though.

Part of it is that my job is so reflective that reflecting has come to feel like work in the most banal sense of the word.  I am extremely reflective by nature and find it rejuvenating, but I haven’t been doing it enough for myself lately.  My work as a coach has me supporting others’ reflections and reflecting on their reflections. Reflect, reflect, reflect.  I have to make sure that I’m part of that reflection.  I have to make sure I don’t get lost in the reflection.

And that brings me to the second reason I keep getting stuck – I keep thinking I’ve lost my voice. I haven’t though.  I just keep forgetting to use it. My wonderful friend Jen Vincent wrote a lovely blog post about me this summer. As part of her post, she read through my entire blog (no small feat) and compiled her favorite words of mine into this slideshow.

Erin Jackle is Awesome from Jennifer Vincent

I have come back to this slideshow again and again, and it never fails to surprise me.  Those are my words! That’s my voice! It’s always been there, and I just need to use it.

I Have Hope For You #NIAW

It’s National Infertility Awareness Week, and I’ve been struggling all week with what I wanted to say.  This year’s theme is “You are not alone,” which I adore since sharing my infertility story brought me so much love and support during our struggle.  Still, there were days when, despite the love around me, I felt so alone.  How do I honor the love shown to me while still acknowledging that I often felt alone?

During a particularly low day, one of my nurses said to me, “I’ve been hoping for you.  I keep your name in my hope box to remind me to hope for you.”

I was so touched.

Now that I’ve survived infertility and come out on the other side with two beautiful happy endings, you might think that infertility is part of my past.  It’s not.  It’s an ever-constant part of who I am.  While I may not talk about it much these days, I haven’t left that community or stopped supporting those dealing with this disease.

You see…I have a box of names now.  It’s a plain, cheap black jewelry box.  I’m not even sure where it came from, but it lives in the drawer of my nightstand.  This little box is full of names.  It’s full of the names of those I’m sending hope to, no matter what stage of the journey they are in.  Just starting out, IVF, adoption, laproscopy, hysterectomy, Clomid, you name it.  Whenever I see someone tweet or blog about their struggles, their name goes into the box.  There are blank pieces too, since I am hoping for those whose names I don’t even know.

If you are struggling, I am hoping for you.

I am hoping for you even when you can’t hope for yoursevles.

I see you.

I have hope for you.

Even in your darkest days when it feels like you have no one, I will hope for you.

You are not alone.

I Saw Your Face Today

I saw your face today while I was driving. 

I saw your face in the rear view mirror. 

I couldn’t see your eyes, but I’d know that double chin anywhere. 

Not the bullfrog double-chin from the steroids. Just your regular dad double-chin. 

I couldn’t be certain, but I’m pretty sure you were wearing one of your shirts with boats or fish or some other nauticalness. 

I saw your face today and couldn’t tear my eyes away. 

I kept checking the mirror to make sure it was you. It was. Even though I know you’d never drive a Prius. 

I saw your face today and immediately my mind began telling you everything I’ve wanted to say since I last saw you. 

I saw your face today and my eyes filled with tears. 

But also…

I saw your face today and it made me smile. 

I Simply Remember My Favorite Things #sol15

Earl Grey tea with just a splash of milk.

The moment Harry finds out he’s a wizard.

Freshly painted toenails.

Colorful tights.

The sound of a train just as I’m falling asleep.

Freshly laundered sheets.

Photos of my dad.

Belting out “Sweet Caroline.”

Blush, lipstick, and mascara.

Scrolling through Instagram.

The words, “Out for delivery.”

The moment before you start a new book.

Really hot showers.

Two little girls snuggled on my lap.

Dresses with pockets.

Fruity wine.

Staying in pajamas all day long.

Hugs from Ted.

The first sandal day of the year.

Reading in the backyard.

When Life Hands You Lemons #sol15

First, Charlotte got pneumonia.

Then, Evelyn ended up taking a trip to the ER at midnight.  Croup.

Of course, I was the next sick one.

During all of this we were scrambling to determine a new childcare situation, buy an additional set of car seats, and a more reliable car for Ted’s long drive to work.

It was crazy, but we were muddling through.

Then Monday happened.  On Monday, Ted and I were out enjoying a kid-free afternoon when the universe decided we needed a whole basket of lemons.

Ted’s new job fell through.

We are picking up the pieces and moving on as best we can, but we are still reeling.

Thankfully, Ted will be able to go back to his position with Trader Joe’s.  Not much will change other than we are now paying more for childcare than we were previously.

Everything will be ok.  But this was a tough blow for our family.

When life hands you lemons, sometimes the only thing to do is snuggle up with tea and a book.

  When life hands you lemons, sometimes the only thing to do is get froyo.

 When life hands you lemons, sometimes the only thing to do is take goofy selfies.

So, that’s what we are doing.  We have our home and our health and each other.  Everything will be just fine.

But…I’d like to avoid the lemons for a little while.

Mother Knows Best #sol15

I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write for the past couple of days because my poor Charlotte has pneumonia!  It’s been a tough few days.  Unfortunately, having a very sick little girl was made even more difficult when faced with a doctor who wasn’t listening to us.  Without rehashing all of the details, suffice it to say that we had to fight with the pediatrician to do the chest x-ray and give us an accurate diagnosis.

The whole experience left me reflecting on how we simply do not value parent input or trust that parents know their kids best.  It’s true in medicine, it’s true in education, and it’s just not okay.  How many times have you heard a colleague complain about “that mom” calling again?  Or heard a teacher say that a child would be so much better off if the teacher could just take her home?  How many times have you seen educators get frustrated with parents for wanting more support for their student?  Or for pushing for a general education placement when the team thinks the student  belongs in special education.  You’ve maybe even said or thought these things yourself.  I’ve always connected well with the  parents of my students and considered them team members, but even I’ve had those frustrated thoughts.  I’ve thought that I’ve known better.

If being a mom has taught me anything it’s that parents, for the most part, are truly doing the best they can with what they know.  While there are always exceptions, most parents love their kids fiercely and will do whatever it takes to support them.  While I valued parental input on my students before I became a mom, it wasn’t until I had my girls that I truly understood what it meant to partner with parents.  I expect Evelyn and Charlotte’s doctors and teachers to listen to me, to value my input, and to recognize that I come to the table with a certain level of expertise that they just don’t have.  Becoming a mom has really helped me to walk in the shoes of other parents.  To see that the constant phone calls aren’t meant to annoy me, or that they aren’t disagreeing with me for no reason.  Being a parent myself has helped me see even more clearly how important it is for us to work together with parents and to see their questions and concerns for what they are: parents advocating for their children.

Parents are the experts on their children.  This doesn’t mean that as educators we don’t have expertise of our own.  Rather it means that we need to collaborate with parents and combine our expertise in order to provide the best support for each and every child.


It’s Been A Day #sol15

It’s been a day full of worry because Charlotte is sicker than she’s ever been.

It’s been a day full of giggles while pretending to be dinosaurs with Evelyn.

It’s been a day full of multitasking as I try to follow up on nanny applications, send out agendas for work, entertain my healthy kiddo, and snuggle my sick one.

It’s been a day full of coffee because how else do you get through the day?

It’s been a day full of wonder with Evelyn asking me all of the questions.

It’s been a day full of heartbreak as my Charlotte has been in constant tears.

It’s been a day full of helplessness because I can’t make my little girl better.

It’s been a day full of pride as Evelyn bravely went to school without her sister for the first time.

It’s been a day full of balance (or lack thereof) while I attempt to give all of the people and things in my life the attention they deserve.

It’s been a day full of open windows and fresh air.

It’s been a day full of coffee which deserves mentioning twice.

Basically, it’s been an average, ordinary day for this mama.


During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

Grateful #sol15

My house is a mess. 

The dishes aren’t done. The laundry isn’t folded. Everything is covered in dog hair and toys. 

I’m not cleaning, though. 

I’m sitting in the rocker in my girls’ room. Just listening to them breathe while they rest. Just looking at their sweet faces. Just marveling at these magical gifts I have been given. 

An Exciting New Change #sol15

Oops!  I missed posting yesterday, but to be fair we got some exciting new around here.  Ted got a new job!! Always exciting, right?  For us, though, the most exciting part of this new job is that it means more time for us together as a family.  Ted has worked in retail management for the entirety of our marriage, and it has always meant needing to be creative about finding time together.  When the girls were born, we took advantage of him being able to work nights and weekends so that we could pay less for childcare.  At the time, it was a lifesaver, and we’ve made it work for years now.  Still, over the past year, it has really begun to wear on both of us.  We have no days off together, he solos with the girls most mornings and I solo with them most nights.  It’s hard to be the only parent at home and it’s hard to miss your partner so much.  But all of that is about to change!

Ted’s new job will have him home every evening, and he will only work Saturdays on the weekends.  We will have a whole family day every week!  Family dinners!  Family stories at bedtime!  I can’t tell you how happy this makes my heart.  There are going to be some new sacrifices, for sure.  It’s a long drive for him and we will need to figure out some additional childcare.  But his new salary will more than cover the additional childcare costs and the regular time we will get together as a family is priceless.

I feel so lucky that our careers have allowed us to be home as much as possible with our girls while still carrying two full time jobs, but I am so ready for us to be together as a family more often.

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.

I’m Sensitive and I’d Like To Stay That Way* #sol15

I’ve always been a sensitive person. I pick up on emotions.  I feel things intensely. I wear my heart on my sleeve.  I’m sensitive.

For the longest time, I thought this was a problem.  I needed to get a thicker skin.  Stop taking things so personally. Toughen up.  I saw my sensitivity as a deficit rather than an asset.

Sure, being sensitive has meant that I’ve been sad, angry, or hurt unnecessarily.  It’s meant that I’ve taken things the wrong way or over-thought things. It’s meant that I’ve cried in the bathroom at work more times than I’d care to admit.  But I’ve learned to recognize and manage over-sensitivity.  I’ve also learned that my sensitivity is not a weakness.  It’s an essential piece of who I am.

Having stepped into the role of instructional coach these last two years, I’ve done a lot of reflecting on working with adults in various roles and situations.  One thing that I have come to realize is that my sensitivity is a huge asset for me in this role.  My sensitivity allows me to connect with the teachers I serve and to better understand where they are coming from.  While it can sometimes be exhausting for me feeling all of those feelings, I think (I hope) that it makes me a better coach.  I’ve learned that my sensitivity helps me see things from others’ perspectives.  By putting myself in others’ shoes, I can better reflect and plan for ways to push their thinking.  It helps me know where, how, and when to push.

It’s not always comfortable and it can be downright challenging at times, but I’m grateful that I’ve learned to appreciate this part of me so that I can raise my girls to appreciate their sensitivity as well.

*Thanks for the song lyrics, Jewel.

During March, I’m participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge over at Two Writing Teachers.