Fall Running


Crisp air filling my lungs while leaves crunch beneath my feet help me take in my favorite running season one stride at a time.

It was a challenging work week. I spent all of my energy on things that did not directly impact my students’ learning, and that is frustrating! Too many meetings to count, quarter one grading, and “putting out lots of fires” kept me at school way too late each night. (Thanks to John for his extra energy at home all week!)

When the weekend hit, I was burned out. Thankfully, the gorgeous weather provided more than just sunlight to my life. Elijah and I took advantage of the empty trails. My legs hurt when we returned home, but my lungs felt strong and my mind was more centered.

I know this incredible weather won’t stick around forever, so this week gives me the opportunity for a new goal: Less time in my classroom, more time outside.

My Pumpkin


For the last week, we’ve been getting summer temperatures with fall colors. It’s the best of both worlds.

After deciding I have no interest in carving a pumpkin, I thought paint would be the next best thing. Next year Elijah can slap paint on his own pumpkin. This year, I personalized it for him.

This kid loves everything (as long as his tummy is full)!

Professional Photos


I never have any birthday, anniversary, or Christmas gift ideas to give John. He gets frustrated with me.

After we received the link to Elijah’s six-month photos, I told John that photo sessions of our son are my new gift suggestion. I love pictures, and I’ve always been sad that a photo of my sweet 8 lb 14 oz bundle all swaddled up in my arms is missing from our walls.

By the time we brought Elijah home from the hospital, our photographer didn’t think a newborn session would work very well. Usually these sessions are taken 1-2 weeks after birth because the baby can be positioned easily and is usually a sound sleeper.

We do have very powerful images of Elijah during those first few weeks. I posted some of these on Facebook as I asked for people’s prayers. My uncle Dean sent a few of these images to us in the mail, and we hung them up on our bedroom mirror as we waited week after week to bring our baby home. The photos are still there. How will I ever take them down?

Elijah’s six-month shoot includes nothing but happiness! The gallery has a few family shots, a couple photos showing off his tummy scar, and lots of him wearing our favorite irish hat.

Elijah changes every single week, and I love having photos to document his growth. Our phones do a great job and so does the SLR, but a professional photographer is an investment I’m willing to make. After all, is there any better gift?

If you want to see Elijah’s gallery, here is the link. Password: wagner

ITECia 2016

img_5012ITEC (Iowa Technology & Education Connection) makes me a better teacher. You’ve read my blog praising this incredible conference many years in a row, but this year was different. Presenting added an additional layer to my experience and challenged me as an educator.

I was worried no one (except my co-worker Tracie) would show up for my session. Thankfully, 20+ people were in the room. No one got up and left, and a few people stuck around afterwards to ask questions and even img_5006exchange emails. I promised to send more resources their way. This helps me look beyond that fact that I talked too fast and mark my first ITEC presentation as a success.

What did I present on? Aurasma (app), relationships with local newspapers, online student newspapers, student-led Instagram accounts, Newsela, Weebly, and Canva. If you ever want to hear more about any of these, I’m happy to share. You can also view my presentation here!

Every session from the conference is uploaded here! There is a wealth of knowledge in this img_5013document. Do yourself a favor and find something you can use!
As if attending the conference wasn’t enough, my school granted permission to every teacher who asked. This allowed a big group of us (Math and English teachers) to collaborate and have a lot of fun in Des Moines for three days.

Now that we’re all going home with different resources, we can continue to collaborate.


Birthday at the Vineyard


img_4974Saturday included celebrating Raechel’s thirtieth birthday at Park Farm Winery in Bankston, Iowa. I’ve been there a handful of times, and it’s the best winery around. It’s located near Dubuque in the rolling hills. You can tell from the photos that the building and wrap-around deck stand alone on a huge hill. This creates incredible views to enjoy while consuming their wine or pizza. You are also allowed to bring in any food. Whitney packed us a feast of meats, cheeses, crackers, fruit, and birthday cupcakes.

As if a day at the winery wasn’t enough of a party, the added bonus was our limo bus that transported us to and from. We made a few pit
stops at local bars along the way, in addition to picking up more and more people.

We couldn’t have asked for better weather on an October day.

It was an absolutely perfect way to celebrate Raechel’s 3-0!

Fall Firsts

img_4852It wouldn’t be fall without football. Elijah experienced his first Friday Night Lights at my school over the weekend. To add to this excitement, it was homecoming. Plenty of people had an opportunity to snuggle this sweet boy during the game, and he loved people watching.

We had another opportunity for people watching when we attended the Pumpkin Festival celebrations on Saturday in Anamosa. Employees of the hospital passed out reusable bags to support Breast Cancer Awareness during the parade, and Elijah’s cute looks helped us fill our bag with sweet treats. Sorry we can’t share with you yet, buddy.

We spent the rest of the weekend celebrating special birthdays. We seem to know a lot of people with October birthdays. A special shoutout to my nephew who celebrated his Golden Birthday on the 2nd. Who needs gold gifts when you can receive a train? Happy birthday, Colin! Elijah will be over to join you and your imagination again soon.

The Sibling Effect

11013096My brother Matt received multiple texts while I read this book and highlighted the accuracy of the sibling studies.

Just to name a few:

  • Older siblings are more likely to inherit the family business. Check
  • Middle siblings are more likely to call a friend for help whereas the oldest and youngest would call their parents. Check
  • The youngest is usually the biggest risk taker. Check
  • Youngest children usually get privileges sooner than when older children received them. Check 

I also enjoyed reading about only children, as I thought about how much attention John and I give Elijah. With only children, which fit into the oldest child category, there is no one else fighting for the parents’ time.

  • Studies indicated that first borns are smarter. Ivy League colleges disproportionately represented first born children with one reporting an incoming class of 66% first borns. Each child after the first scores lower on SATs. The studies relate this to the devotion parents can spend on a child when there is more than one. Another study said the oldest often helps the younger siblings, a method that helps the oldest increase their own knowledge.
  • The book lists presidents and CEOs who are first born children.

The book also discussed how parents definitely have favorite children. It discussed studies as to why the oldest male would be the favorite for the mother and the youngest female would be the favorite for the father. It also discussed middle children with siblings of the same genders, for example three boys or three girls, and the middle is rarely the favorite. Parents tend to latch the first born or the baby.

I agree with these studies since Elijah is my favorite child.😉

Flood Week

img_4835Three days off from school turned into five.

Teachers will report on Friday, but we won’t see students until Monday.

The schools are dry, but the bridges and roads to and from many student routes are closed. It’s bizarre to have a week “off” in September.

Even though our daycare is open and we’re paying for Elijah to be there, I’m treating this week as a gift of time with my son.

We even made a trip to visit family on Monday, and his “Just another day at the office” look was especially for Grandpa Leo.

Elijah: Six Months

img_4813Happy 1/2 Birthday, Baby Boy!

This kid spoils us. He is so happy and loves to smile and laugh. We constantly ask him if he’s a real baby because he’s so patient and easy going.

He lights up and kicks his legs whenever he spots his Dad. The excitement and love is real. Elijah, that’s how I feel when I spy John, too.🙂

After Elijah got over a pretty nasty three-week cold, his appetite returned. We re-introduced vegetables and are now working in some fruits. He’s a good eater. Just like his parents, he is a member of the clean plate club.

Elijah is getting better and better at sitting up. He likes being on his tummy, and I know we’ll have a crawler in no time.

Flood 2016

crFor those of you who read my blog and do not live in Iowa, I’ll give you a glimpse into what is going on in our city. An evacuation for the downtown area occurred today, and waters will begin to reach flood stages through Tuesday. School was let out early on Friday so students and faculty could help fill sandbags and move furniture for local businesses and churches. School is closed for the next three days because roads are closed and people are displaced.

You can actually watch live coverage of the water rising through KCRG, local news source. 

It’s hard to wrap my head around the disaster coming our way, but the city is more prepared than they were in 2008. The amount of people downtown on Friday was unbelievable. Everywhere I went there were groups of people working or waiting for sand to arrive for them to begin working. There were actually sites that had to turn away volunteers because of overcrowding. What a wonderful problem!

Keep the city of CR in your prayers. The hurry and prep is over. Now we wait.