Family Fun

Back to School!

In the most normal of years, the beginning of the school year is akin to crashing a boat into a dock. But it has been a long time since I have seen “normal.”

The 2017-18 school year began with Hurricane Harvey and ended with me going on medical leave.

In the fall of 2018 I began my break from full time teaching and started subbing in two districts. In the spring, I accepted a long term subbing position, which was interrupted when a factory caught on fire. During the fire, I worked at Odyssey, where I was later hired as a behavioral interventionist for the next year.

I began my new position normally enough in the fall of 2019, and Iliana started attending school at Odyssey as well. Then came March 2020, which was anything but normal.

We began last year virtually, then had a week off for a hurricane that turned and missed us at the last minute. By September I was teaching full time again. The year was a weird combination of virtual and in-person teaching, with a two-week intermission when I finally caught the plague. At the end of the school year, I was offered my new position, which means that I began the year as an aide and ended the year as department lead.

And so, welcome to back-to-school 2021!

Last Hurrah: A Bike Riding Trip in Montrose

The last weekend before school started, we decided to get an Air BNB in Montrose. It was an adorable little historic apartment!

We packed our folding bikes and headed downtown, where we easily found the Buffalo Bayou trail.

Downtown had more businesses open, than they did on our spring break visit. However, there were more restrictions due to the Delta variant.

2. The “D” Word

It hadn’t surprised me that downtown was stricter, but then Ili and I decided to visit Armand Bayou nature center, once of our favorite woods-walking venues. It was beautiful…

But it surprised me that they had tight restrictions! Some made sense, like wearing a mask when you walk up to the payment window. But others seemed overly cautious for an outdoor place. It was starting to make me nervous.

Then our state entered into a weird battle over masks in schools. Our governor has banned schools from enacting mask mandates, but a local judge ordered one anyway and it was upheld in a higher court. Which means that the schools, who really have no interest in taking sides on political things like this, are strongly encouraging mask wearing.

Personally, I have mixed feelings on the whole thing. I am fully vaccinated and have had the virus, and I have researched the chances of me catching it again. It is a small enough risk, that I am willing to take it. I am definitely not going to stay home or change how I am living my life in a major way.

And yet, I kind of get the reasoning behind requiring the masks at school. Most of the students can’t get vaccinated yet, and kids are getting sick with the Delta variant. From what I have read, the chances of me being contagious are small, but we don’t know for sure which adults have been vaccinated, who has had the virus, etc. So I got myself a shield with pink glasses and created a rhinestone tiara above it! And Iliana got a new set of sequin masks.

While I understand the reasoning behind the masks, I am glad that school is being held in-person this year. There has been a very significant slide, both academically and emotionally, from the year and a half with no in-person instruction for a number of students. Right now, with what we know, I think the benefits of being in school definitely outweigh the risks. I will be glad when the children have an opportunity to be vaccinated.

3. Two Cute Iliana Stories

This has been a year of growing up for Iliana. We recently went to our storage unit and found a leopard print parka that Iliana enjoyed wearing for years. It doesn’t even come close to fitting her now! I asked Ili if she wanted to donate it, and she hesitantly agreed, although she wanted to take a picture of it first.

The next day, when my grocery delivery arrived, the young lady who brought them, surprised me with a bouquet of flowers that had been on clearance. On a hunch, I asked her if she had a little girl. She said yes, she had a 5-year-old. And it turns out that her daughter needed a new winter coat and loves leopard! So Iliana was delighted that her coat went to a good home, and she enjoyed the flowers in her room.

Iliana is loving school this year, and she is taking an extra science class, as well as attending science camp through NASA. She has dutifully studied her chemistry lessons every night, and on Friday her teacher excitedly told me that Ili had gotten 100% on her test! We celebrated with ice cream, of course!

Have a wonderful week, and I hope your fall is starting out well!

About Us

Back to School!

September has always been my January.

One of my favorite aspects of teaching was that every fall was a fresh start.  No matter what had happened the previous year, September was a time to hit the reset button and begin anew.  I made resolutions–both personally and professionally–every fall.

So you can imagine the roller coaster of emotions that I have experienced this fall, since I am not returning to a classroom.  There has been grief over losing a huge part of my identity, guilt over the way things ended, fear about my next steps, and exhileration and optimism about my new direction!

The past few days, however, have been all about Iliana.  Last year was rough for her, with the hurricane interrupting things, me being gone until after she was in bed in the beginning, then me not going to work in the spring.  She was not looking forward to going back, so we have been working on putting a positive spin on things.

We began with a favorite tradition from my school days–a trip to the mall!

Of course, multiple trips on the escalator were involved.

Ili has a sizable wardrobe on hand-me-downs and thrift store clothing, but for her “opening day” outfit, we actually went to the Gap.  This was a new experience for me as well, since I have never been to the Gap!

You will see what’s in the bag later!

Then it was time for Dippin’ Dots!










Next, we were off to Claire’s to find that perfect accessory for Meet the Teachers night!

Unimpressed with the overpriced school supplies at the mall, we headed to Five Below to pick up a binder and some stickers to decorate it with.

Then, it was time for Meet the Teachers night!

That is Ms. Gomez, Ili’s favorite parapro, in the middle picture.

After meeting her new teachers and reconnecting with all of her friends, we met up with Jocelyn and Ava for some end-of-summer fun at the Kemah boardwalk.  Because when you live within walking distance of an amusement park, you have to go there!

And finally, this morning, it was time for Iliana’s first day as a fifth grader!

With her new outfit and Undertale backpack, she was ready to go.


The bus was running a little late, which was typical for the first day…

Iliana found ways to pass the time.

After 20 minutes, Iliana had given up, and I called the bus garage…

…Which, of course, meant that the bus pulled in during my call!

Iliana had a great first day of school, and she loved being in the highest grade on campus!

Do you have a little one heading back to school this fall?  How was your first day?