John officially added more letters behind his name this semester: MBA.

Nights, weekends, and even using days off to lock himself in his office at work to strictly work on assignments helped him earn another degree.

Even though an MBA is not required for John’s current role at the hospital, he knew it couldn’t hurt. John’s capstone project included a 30 plus page paper where he developed a recommendation for back pain called a “Back Pain Bundle”. Even though I didn’t read the paper, John took the time to explain the project in terms I would understand, and I was impressed he was able to encompass all elements of healthcare into one plan.

I’m so proud of John for taking the initiative and enrolling in this program after years of weighing the pros of cons. Even though it meant time away from our family and sleepless nights worrying about the next assessments, he did it. John Wagner, DPT, MBA.

Bridal Festivities Begin

Saturday included a girls’ day in celebration of the bride-to-be, Meredith.

Meredith’s bridal shower was held in her hometown, so it was fun to see where she grew up and finally meet her parents. I’m wondering who will be hitting the dance floor harder on June 30th- Meredith or her mom?

It’s hard to believe wedding week is just two months away, and I’m so thankful both of my brothers gave me incredible sisters-in-law.

National Presentations

The sights of San Francisco were awesome and the sunshine was a gift from God, but the highlight of the conference was seeing my students present to a national audience. Four girls presented, all seniors, for three different sessions.

  • Vulnerability Within Opinion Writing
  • Our Lives Through The Lens
  • 16 Editions, 32 Weeks

The final exam for my class should have been the presentation for these girls because they demonstrated their expertise in their content area at a national level. They aced it.

My presentation was the same as it was in Dallas, “Sports Writing: Players and Coach, not Scores and Stats” and I had about 250 people in attendance including both students and advisers.

Another portion of the conference was the adviser’s recognition luncheon, which is where I was awarded my CJE. I actually snuck out of the ceremony early in order to make it to my students’ session, but it was great to sit at a table with advisers from around the country and share success stories as well as current struggles. Most schools, including mine, only have one publication adviser, so these conferences are oftentimes the only professional development I receive within my specific content area all year.

I still have a list of notes on google docs to sift through, but I’m confident the conference stretched my students, myself, and our program.

The fall NHSJC will take place in Chicago in November, and I already have one student proposal accepted to present.

San Francisco Hot Spots

Fisherman’s Wharf. Ghiradelli. The Golden Gate Bridge.

Even though it was windy, my happiness level to feel the sun touch my cheeks brought me a love I hadn’t felt since visiting my parents in Arizona two months ago! It’s been a long winter in Iowa, people.

After getting into San Francisco really late Wednesday (early Thursday morning), we were thankful to have a late start to our day. The FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise) Tour was from 9:30-noon, and it was really fun! This fashion college includes majors in graphic design, interior design, and fashion design. The reason this stop was on a tour at a journalism conference was that we talked about how to write-up fashion, especially if you are a journalist covering a runway show. Our guide not only gave us a tour and explained how their graduates work with famous designers and brands, she held out pieces of clothing and asked the girls to write up how they would describe the outfit. It was an interesting exercise and one I had never thought about for a journalist.

The rest of our day was spent exploring the city because the conference didn’t actually kick off until 7 p.m. This gave us plenty of time to take in the hot spots and enjoy some sushi.

The girls were mad about the miles we put in, but I did my best to redeem myself with Ubers back to the hotel. I couldn’t let us return to Iowa without seeing the famous places San Francisco has to offer. Besides, I warned them to wear comfortable shoes. They’ll forgive me when they look about at these gorgeous photos.

*Please note the Golden Gate Bridge in the background. This was a new sight for me!

Conference Goals

Last April I had the opportunity to attend my first National High School Journalism Conference (NHSJC). The location that spring was Seattle, and I loved taking in a new city, drinking my weight in Pike Place coffee, and learning new material with other teachers passionate about journalism. When I returned home, I created some goals for myself…

My goals were:

  • Spend more time on our newspaper’s website
  • Submit student work for contests
  • Complete my own JEA certification with the hope of presenting at the national level someday.

Looking back at these goals helps me receive the professional lift I’ve been needing lately. Within a year I’ve been able to submit both newspaper and yearbook work for contests, and a few students have walked away with honorable mentions. One of my students submitted a handful of yearbook photos and will find out this weekend if she placed. Hopefully, I’ll have more tell you about that in a few days.

As for spending more time with our school’s website, this goal is still in the works. I’ve spent a lot more time with our newspaper’s social media, especially Instagram, and I’ve added a Beginning Journalism tab to our website to feature more sophomore and junior writers. Other than that, brand new content is not being created for our website. This needs to change, but there are only so many hours in the day.

I completed my CJE and will be award this certification at a luncheon on Saturday during this year’s spring NHSJC. In addition, I presented in Dallas and will present again on Saturday. My topic is the same, Sports Writing: Players and Coaches, not Scores and Stats.

Saturday’s programs are a part of this year’s NHSJC in San Francisco. A group of 12 students, myself, and another chaperone will depart tomorrow afternoon for this conference. I’m looking forward to geeking out with other journalism teachers while taking in a change of scenery. God bless anywhere that has palm trees. Our trip includes lots of awesome adventures, so I’ll report back with photos.

A Christian Brand You Should Try

I assumed because of our RMH plans on Easter we wouldn’t have a chance to hunt for eggs this year. I was wrong. Saturday morning included an indoor Easter egg hunt at my in-laws since there was snow on the ground. Elijah wasn’t interested in the candy, but one of his eggs included a matchbox car. He was done hunting for eggs after he found his jackpot.

In addition, a sorority from UNI was holding an Easter egg hunt around the RMH when we arrived Sunday afternoon. One of the girls immediately handed Elijah an Easter basket and helped him start hunting for treasure. It’s incredible the RMH hosts events like this for families.

As for Elijah’s Easter basket from the bunny, it was filled with books and a plate, cup, bowl, silverware set from Mary&Martha. If you need a Christian gift of any kind, I recommend this brand. Fitting to the Bible story, they have kitchenware, home decor, and so much more. Their kid’s line, God Made Just One, is adorable. I’ll be shopping this brand again. The consultant I went through is a Xavier parent, so if you find yourself browsing the catalog and need to be connected, just say the word. She’s fantastic. She also let me split up my order so I could just get one plate, bowl, cup, and set of silverware.

RMH Easter 2018

When John and I looked back on our 2017 we both agreed serving the Easter meal at the Ronald McDonald House was one of the highlights. We made sure to plan on this again this year and were happy even more family members offered to join.

The menu was the same and everyone had their job. My aunt, once again, peeled 15 pounds of potatoes, John cooked and glazed the hams, I worked on dessert (how cute are the Pinterest recipe spring Oreos?), and my parents cleaned and cut fruit. We each took turns chasing after Elijah who loved playing in the playroom sponsored by Dance Marathon.

If you’re wondering what kind of numbers the RMH serves, the coordinator told me they had 29 rooms full (two of their rooms are under maintenance) and 20 families are on the waiting list. They had also issued some donated hotel vouchers for that night. That place is constantly being used to help keep families close to their loved ones.

Three Recommendations

Since I’m hitting a record low number of blog posts this month, I’m sharing a few things that I’ve enjoyed this winter while I couldn’t be outside.

Here are three recommendations including a podcast, a tv series, and a book.

Strangers is a podcast that simply tells other people’s stories. Each episode is independent of each other, except for a few. This means you can be selective and skip around. If you like creepy true crime type of stories, you’ll like this episode:  Do You Like My Little Lie? I’ll be shocked if you listen and don’t go back for more episodes. Thanks to a fellow teacher, Jess, who recommended this podcast.

Sneaky Pete is a television series on Amazon Prime. If you have Amazon Prime, there are a series of shows you can watch included in your membership. This is the write-up supplied by Amazon: “A con man tries to leave his old life behind by assuming the identity of his cell mate, Pete. While Pete’s family doesn’t have reason to suspect that he is not their long-lost loved one, they are a colorful group with their own secrets and lies that could make life as dangerous as the world. Executive producers include Graham Yost and Bryan Cranston.” John and I are watching this show together, and I’m confident the first episode will suck you into the season. Side note, I love having a show we watch together to end our day.

For the Love: Fighting for Grace is a book by Jen Hatmaker. This site will offer you a good taste of the book in PDF form. I first learned about Jen Hatmaker at the IF Conference with Sara a few years ago. Since then, I’ve followed Jen on social media and read a couple of her books. I blogged about her book A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study in 2015. Jen’s personality is huge, and her writing is easy to read and even easier to relate with on a personal and spiritual level. This book is a perfect read as I gear up for a busy time in my professional and personal life because it forces me to reevaluate my priorities and commit to only what is “on the beam”. Jen also gives the reader permission to put things “off the beam”.

Dinosaur Party

As feared, a huge snow storm dumped roughly seven inches of snow on us Saturday morning. This required us to push Elijah’s party back a day since some family members were traveling over an hour. Thankfully everyone was flexible, and it worked out to celebrate Elijah’s birthday on Sunday.

There were lots of laughs from the littles of this party, and I love seeing these three get so excited around one another.

Everyone was so generous with thoughtful gifts for Elijah. Since most of them are outside toys or summer clothes, we’re looking forward to spring even more. Once this snow is gone, you’ll find us outside pushing a new toy truck, mowing the lawn with a toddler mower, or riding a new trike. When summer hits, we have a new sprinkler that will get lots of use. We’d love for you to join us!

For now, all those new toys and the kids play in the box.


Happy Birthday, Elijah!

The things I love most about you include:

  • The fact that you stop everything and dance whenever you hear music, no matter where we are at or how big of a hurry I might be in at the moment.
  • Your laugh and open mouth smile.
  • The fact that you love to be outside and still tolerate the jogging stroller when I want both exercise and time with you.
  • The way you say your name. “E-lie-jah” or “Lie-jah”.
  • Your love for donuts.
  • The simple way you study things, especially books. I’m so thankful you love books and won’t let us tuck you in until we’ve read every single night.
  • Your friendly personality. I take some credit for the fact that you’re social, but it doesn’t stop me from being thankful it’s one of your qualities.
  • The love you have for your dad. We share a love for that incredible man.
  • That you’re the best snuggler and always make room for me on the couch with you. I’ll watch “Sing” over and over again with you if it means I can just stare at you and count my blessings.

This list only begins to describe my love for my energetic boy. I’m so thankful to be your mom, Elijah.