Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 . . . Where Did You Go?

I always like to watch all the news programs on New Years Eve as they look back at the top moments of the year, the movers and the shakers, the highs and the lows, the sad "in memoriam" montages.  As I was visualizing my own personal "a look back" montage, I almost got dizzy as the scenes of 2013 whizzed through my mind.  I have had some years that I can't wait to see end; other years I find myself clinging to that last second, not wanting the magic to end.  But this year--busy and jam packed--I simply can't believe is over.

What was it that made time fly this past year?
Maybe seeing this guy turn three left me in disbelief:

or the birth of our very own royal babies (read all about it!)




 Or helping my mom celebrate her 85th birthday with all members of our family by her side

I only hope I can be as happy and beautiful as she is when I'm an octogenarian!

or perhaps taking trips, near and far, made me lose track of time . . .

Or maybe it was the change in teaching assignments--after teaching 7th graders for the past twelve years, I made a change and am now teaching 11th and 12th grade English.  Once school started in August, everything took a back seat--blogging, reading, lunching, shopping--I have been like a first-year teacher all over again as I implement a new curriculum.

I'm breathless thinking about the whirlwind year that is about to end, and I'm ready for whatever 2014 has in store.

And so, whether you jump into 2014 with my friend Kari (see here)  
or with Max and Madi

or whether you crawl into the New Year, Drake style

I hope you are blessed with the energy, enthusiasm, and innocence of a three year old

and that you cherish your reasons to believe.

Happy 2014

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A Whole Lot of Baby Bloggin' Going On: Royal Babies, Thompson Style

With all the excitement surrounding the birth of His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge,  I find it only fitting to share with the world my own royal babies.


it's all about babies in the Thompson family this year.  In the short course of one year, we have gone from one next-generation member to four.

Ethan, (see HERE,  and HERE, and HERE) once the only baby, has now been joined by his little brother Drake and his twin cousin-cousins Max and Madi.  And while Ethan was definitely the King of the Hill for three years, I must say he has handled the new additions gracefully, allowing all three of them to share his royal spot at the top of the Thompson empire.
Sara Hadenfeldt Photography

jbiggers photography

Read more about His Royal Highness Drake Richard (DRAKE BLOG!) and Their Royal Twins Maxwell Apostoli and Madison Lee (MAX AND MADI BLOG!) to see my million plus four reasons to believe!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Drakester


I wrote these adjectives in my journal after I met Drake for the first time, and now that he is three months old, they would still be the exact same words I would use to describe him.  Drake Richard, born on my niece Jill's birthday (his cousin aunt),  is the soft, warm blanket wrapped around our family.

Maybe it's because Drake was born on a snow day (well, at least in Colorado!) or because he wasn't quite ready to greet the world (two weeks early, C section and all), but for whatever reason, from the start, Drake has loved being held and cuddled close.  He didn't want to open his eyes much in the beginning, preferring to sleep and snuggle. 
Drake in the hospital with his mommy (Micki) daddy (Tyler) and big brother (Ethan)

Fortunately for Micki--and the rest of us, too--Drake's arrival was so much less stressful than his big brother's.  Micki had a scheduled routine OB appointment that afternoon.  It was at this appointment that her doctor decided it was time for the baby to join us, and he was born about three hours later.  I got a FaceTime call from Ethan in which he shyly told me it was "a boy baby"!

Jimpa and gg meeting Drake at the hospital

I got to meet Drake two weeks later.  My mom and I made a quick trip to Kearney--to meet Drake and also celebrate Ethan's third birthday.

The weekend was spent passing Drake around, getting as much baby-holding time as possible.  I don't think he cried once--he was constantly snuggled in someone's arms and content as could be.  We got to see him in some adorable baby outfits, including my favorite one below--his Born in the USA t-shirt!

the youngest Springsteen fan in the family!

Since his arrival, Drake has snuggled in the arms of many of his family members, including:

Mark and Joy

Jill, Uncle Jake, Lynne, Andy & Ana

of course his mama and gg

Drake's sweet spirit has already captured the hearts of all who meet him, reminding us all that we need snuggles and warmth and reasons to believe.

seriously irresistable

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thing 1 and Thing 2


Maxwell Apostoli and Madison Lee came into our lives on June 7, 2013, born to my nephew Andy and his gorgeous wife Ana.  Even though they arrived six weeks early, the wait for these two miracles seemed eternal.  That story is their parents' to tell, though, and Andy and Ana both will be posting on their blog Danger! 10,000 Schultz as soon as they catch their breath.  In the meantime, the twins have captured the hearts of all who have met them.

Beginning in the NICU . . .

Max and Madi spent several weeks in the NICU before they were strong enough to come home.  After all, they did arrive six weeks early.  They never really looked like preemies--they both weighed in the five pound range at birth.  Because they didn't quite have the strength to eat enough, they required their bottle feeding to be supplemented with tube feeding.

I couldn't wait to meet the twins, but I didn't want to intrude on private moments either, and so I had settled on the idea that I would see them when they got home.  Fortunately, I didn't have to wait that long--Andy and Ana invited my mom and me to come to the hospital on the babies' one-week birthday!

I wasn't sure what to expect when I walked into their little private room.  Truth be told, I was pretty nervous about meeting them.  I didn't know if I would be able to keep it together, seeing all the tubes and wires.  As it turned out, there was absolutely nothing to worry about.  The only wires were little heart and oxygen monitors to make sure all vitals were measuring normal (and they were!).  Both babies still had feeding tubes in one tiny nostril, but they were so small and transparent, they were hardly noticeable. 

Greeting us and making everything even more okay were Andy and Ana, already expert preemie parents and looking proud, happy, and beautiful.  They were eager to share their little miracles with us, letting us watch them change and feed the twins.  They definitely had the process down, and I beamed from a safe distance as Madi almost finished her tiny bottle (she just needed the last few drops in her tube).  Max also finished his bottle, albeit at a much slower pace than Madi.  He kept dozing off between sips!

Madi and Max are home now and growing quickly.

These two little miracles are already loved by so many . . .

Their mommy and daddy

Their beautiful Aunt Amy

Their Grandma Lynne

and Grandpa T

Grandma Tina and Grandpa Foti in Macedonia!

Grams! (Madi's middle namesake, Lee)

cousins aunts, cousin cousins, and so, so many others

and ME!
(their great aunt)

That eternal wait for Maxwell and Madison Schultz is now a distant memory.  It seems as if they have always been a part of our family--just two more reasons to believe!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Grab a Coke and Open Summer

I've tried many times to put into words just how liberating 
the last day of school is.  

I've talked about my end-of-the-year ritual here.  

I've savored my summer routine here

After seeing Coca Cola's latest ad campaign, however, I realize there is just nothing left to say:

Grab a Coke and Open Summer

And that's exactly what I've done on this last day of school.


Thursday, May 2, 2013

No Small Change

Teaching has often been labeled  a "thankless job."  I'm not sure that I agree with that--gratitude can take form in so many ways. . .

An unexpected smile or hug from a student, parent, or colleague
A surprise cherry Coke from a teacher friend in the middle of the afternoon
A student-written silly note
An email full of praise and support . . .

 and this

a coin from the superintendent!

The Superintendent Recognition Coin is awarded by our superintendent to teachers throughout the district who have shown outstanding contribution to student achievement.  

Truth be told, I had forgotten about this coin.  I certainly didn't think it was a big deal--in fact, I thought it was kind of silly.

until . . .

last week, when I heard my classroom door rattle.  I glanced back expecting to see one of our administrators or a dean coming to take a student from class.  Instead, I saw our superintendent, accompanied by our principal!  My heart started racing as my brain started questioning . . .

Is my objective posted???
Are my kids focused???
What was I saying when he opened the door???

Not knowing what to do or say, I just continued my writing demonstration, hoping and praying he would observe for a few moments and then leave.  Not to be . . . he walked to the front of the room and stood right before me.  The intense stare of 30 pairs of adolescent eyes and the superintendent standing two feet in front of me made me want to crawl under a table.  Instead, I mustered a "It's great to see you in my classroom" or something like that.  He got right to the point and presented me with his coin. He turned to the kids and explained what the coin was all about, and then they burst into applause--my fifth period--a class that has been a thorn in my side all year.  I just never know about that class.  

They could have been this class
7th grade terrors

but instead they were this class!
Students of the Year!

and long after the superintendent left my room, they were abuzz as they relived the experience of having the superintendent present their teacher with a coin.

"We thought we were in trouble!"
"Ms. Thompson, your face turned red."
"That was cool!"

Getting this coin in a district that employs more than 6000 amazing people may seem like pocket change to some, but to me, this thank you from the superintendent (and my principal, for I'm sure he had a hand in this) is exactly what I needed to survive the last few weeks and is yet another reason to believe . . .  in teaching . . . in our kids . . .  in our future.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Alice!

When I read Heidi's blog post (heidiwrites) encouraging those of us who love Alice Hoffman to join a "blog hop" in honor of her birthday, well, I just knew I had to hop on board.  I am not a seasoned blogger by any means--indeed, I find the whole blogging process stressful, but in a good way.  For Alice, I'll deal with the stress and send my birthday wishes and love to an author who has given me so much to look forward to.

I fell in love with Miss Hoffman back in 1993 when I was given Turtle Moon as a gift.  I had just left a safe life in Nebraska full of family, friends, and security to find something new in Colorado.  I didn't realize how elusive that search would end up being and how much I would miss my Nebraska life.

Enter Lucy Rosen, a character on a search of her own. I couldn't stop reading her story as she desperately searched for answers--to murder, to family, to love.  I'd never read such beautiful words--words like "He truly believed it was possible to reach up and steal the stars right out of the sky.  Now he doesn't even see the stars anymore."  

Turtle Moon got me through the shock of leaving one life and beginning a new one.  Now my bookshelves are home to so many Alice Hoffman novels--novels that I reread time and time again.

My favorites?

Turtle Moon (of course--your first is always the best, right??)


Aquamarine (such a sweet friendship story)

As an English teacher, I am forever drawing on Alice Hoffman novels to use a mentor texts as I help my students discover the writer inside themselves.  

For similes and metaphors, imagery, and magic--
"By now, the mermaid was light as air, dusty and dry as the sand."
"They went in past the whitecaps that shone like stars"
(from Aquamarine)

Esther the White now thought of her decision, such a long time ago, to bury the past in the earth, to forget her own childhood and let the Compound honeysuckle—its odor so strong it had hung over the ice as Esther the White’s fingers cracked with the cold as she buried the jewels—take over everything, even her memory.  And now, as she stood with Cohen by her side, the odor of that same flower filled her, as if memory and pain could both be erased with a flower, with a scent.
(from The Drowning Season)

(These are just a few of my students favorites)

And so, for giving me new friends and words to live by--for allowing me to enter into your magical world--for changing my life--
Happy Birthday, Alice,
from the bottom of my heart!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Two Tickets to Paradise

It's no secret that I'm a huge Bruce Springsteen fan, and so I was absolutely thrilled when I learned that he and The E Street Band would be coming to Denver last fall.  I circled the date, November 19, 2012, in bright red on my calendar and set up an alarm on my computer for the date and time that tickets would go on sale.  I wasn't going to miss this!

I didn't even have time to process the fact that I would be seeing Bruce again when I learned that Jackson Browne was also coming to Denver--five days before Bruce!!  Seriously???  These are my two all-time favorite musicians--I just don't go to any other concerts these days.  And they would be within five days of each other???

I didn't even have to think about it--I would be going to both concerts.  I didn't stop to think if my body (or heart!) could recover between the two shows--it simply didn't matter.  Of course, both of them were on school nights (Jackson on a Wednesday, Bruce a Monday),  but for Bruce and Jackson, I was willing to make the sacrifice.  I knew my body (and my students!) would pay the price, but I also knew it would be totally worth it.

And, of course, it was.  

Click on the links to read about the forever-etched-in-my heart memories of Jackson Browne (Jackson blog!) and Bruce Springsteen (Bruce blog!) in Denver 
November, 2012! 

"You get older and a lot of ghosts walk along with you. Which is good." Bruce Springsteen


Tears of bliss, tears of anticipation, tears of enjoyment,  tears of laughter,
 tears from the heart, tears from the soul,  
tears of rapture,  
remembrance tears, goodbye tears, 
tears of sorrow
my-cheeks-hurt-from-smiling tears. 

From the moment Bruce Springsteen walked on stage and said, "It's great to be back in that Rocky Mountain high," (while making jokes about our recently passed Amendment 64!), TEARS welled in my eyes, oftentimes streaming down my cheeks and even splashing into my glass of wine.  I probably shouldn't have been bawling all the way through a concert that I had been anxiously looking forward to for three months, but that's exactly what happened.  

The night started with everyone in high spirits.  Seeing Bruce with my sister Peg and my best friend Eileen was a dream come true.  Our first stop was Racine's, one of Denver's classic restaurants, where we enjoyed dinner and drinks. All three of us were feeling almost giddy. Yet  . . .

As excited I was to be seeing Mr. Springsteen again and being in the company of these two amazing women,  I also had a small sense of dread.  I had been trying not to dwell on the fact that this would be the first time Big Man wouldn't be on stage with the E Street Band.  I wondered how that would be, how empty his spot on stage would seem, and how Bruce would address his absence.  I was especially dreading hearing the song "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out," one of my absolute favorites, and I was secretly hoping that they wouldn't do that one.

I did great for the first five or six songs.  I mean, opening with Bob Seger's "Get Out of Denver" had everyone rocking from the beginning--a perfect way to open a concert at the Pepsi Center!  It was when Bruce did "Roll Call" and introduced the band, about thrity minutes into the show, when the tears  were uncontainable, no matter how many times I tried to blink them away.  After he introduced everyone, he said, "Are we missing anyone?  Are you missing anyone?" and a light shone on the empty spot where Big Man usually stands.  I am actually tearing up as I type this--it was a subtle-yet-perfect way to honor Clarence Clemons.  Bruce didn't say his name--he didn't need to--we all knew who was missing.

That led into a quiet monologue about ghosts--we all have ghosts who walk beside us.  We've all lost someone or something, but they're with us all the time.  This spiritual side of Bruce got to me as I thought about my dad, of course, but also my grandparents and other family members and friends who have passed.  I truly could feel their presence--it "was good" as Bruce said.  Bruce broke into "Spirit in the Night" appropriately, and, once again, we were all smiles as we sang along.

The thing about a Bruce Springsteen concert is that there is absolutely no down time.  The band goes from one song directly into the next.  There is no buffer time, no wait time for applause--one song turns into the next.  And so, for the next three hours, Bruce and the band played song after song.

I had to "translate" my typing the next day!
8:13 = time Bruce came on stage
11:10 = time he left the stage

You would never know The Boss is 63.  He never stopped--never sat down--never took a break.  And, Bruce doesn't stand at the mic all night and sing slow love songs--he is all over the place.  He's on stage, on a walkway leading into the crowd, on a platform in the middle of the crowd, falling into the crowd and body surfing back to the stage, jumping, sliding, dancing.  For three hours.  

I was exhausted after one!  I did, however, have enough energy to get up and dance to "Dancing in the Dark."  I can't stay seated for that one.  (see short video below--I can't believe I'm posting it, but it really was a labor of love for me to do this.  With the support of my sister and my BFF, I danced the whole song!!!)

The last song of the night, at 11:18 p.m., was indeed "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out."  I had been dreading it, true, but it was during this last song that I could finally let go.  Bruce was out in the midst of the audience again,  singing the familiar words.  When it got to "They made that change uptown and The Big Man joined the band," the music stopped, Bruce froze, and Big Man's face appeared on the Jumbotron.  The cheers from the audience were so loud I thought the floor was going to give out.  A video tribute played for maybe 5 minutes, and yes, I was blubbering.  It "was good" though--I know that Big Man will always be a part of a Bruce concert, and his spirit and music will always be with us.
Big Man's nephew, Jake Clemons, keeps the spirit alive.

The night ended with Bruce putting on a Santa hat that someone from the front threw up to him, and he rewarded us with a verse of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town."  He left the stage, leaving me feeling light hearted and so happy (my cheeks hurt from smiling so much!)  The feeling of dread and sadness was long gone, only to be replaced by all those ghosts walking with me, keeping me safe and giving me new reasons to believe.