St. Matt’s 5k

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Another road race is in the books for Elijah.

Our church festival included a 5k Saturday morning and my friend Jenni and I decided to break out the jogging strollers and support our parish.

Not many people participated in this event, so hopefully Elijah understands it might be the only time I bring home a 2nd place medal for us.

Elijah: Five Months

img_4595This five-month-old is loving oatmeal and tolerating vegetables.

Elijah starting sleeping on his tummy, and we’re taking that as a sign the incision doesn’t bother him. In fact, the scar is already fading drastically.

Even though I don’t have a height or weight for him since early August, he is wearing nine-month-old pants because he is so long.

We’re excited for fall, but we want to soak up deck time and evening walks while the summer weather lasts.

Year #9

It’s good to be back!

From the first few minutes of the first day with students, I was nodding my head in agreement with God’s decision to send me back to school.

These students, these teachers, and my passion to share journalism, writing, and reading make me so thankful for the school community. Who else has a job where they combine what they would choose to do in their free time (read, write, tune into the news, explore social media, take photos, edit and design using those photos, and talk about current issues with people who challenge their ideas and introduce them to new ones) and get paid for it?

I have so many professional and personal goals this academic year that range from going to bed earlier all the way to seeing the reading/comprehension ability of my freshmen soar. Some of these goals are more in my control than others, but I’m determined to priorities my time and do my best. After all, the academic year isn’t just a time for students to learn.

Thanks to my Uncle Dean, retired teacher of 49 years, who sent me Heart of a Teacher after I signed my contract in May. This is a book I’ll keep revisiting. “When asked which subjects she loved to teach, she answered this way and smiled…’It’s not the subjects that matter…It’s all about teaching the CHILD.'”

Pineapple Gala: Round Two

img_4563Friday night’s date night benefitted Camp Courageous.

John and I had the opportunity to attend the Pineapple Gala again this year. The biggest silent auction I have ever seen was followed by dinner, a program, and a live auction.

They even had a local high school football team arrive (wearing their jerseys) at the end of the program to help people carry their auction items to their cars. Talk about community support.

If you’ve never been to this event, you have 12 months to find yourself a Hawaiian shirt for next year.

The Best Yes, Worth Revisiting

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Two years ago I read The Best Yes, and it’s a book worth revisiting every year.

This quote is especially important as I begin the school year and prioritize my time. One of my coworkers and I have a goal to meet once a week for faith and fellowship. We’re hoping this can include an afternoon walk while the weather is nice and take place at a coffee house once the seasons change. We’re both hoping this commitment to each other helps un-rush us.

A few of my favorite quotes from The Best Yes.

  • “Overwhelmed schedule, underwhelmed soul.”
  • “Today’s choices become tomorrow’s circumstances.”
  • “Wisdom makes decisions today that will still be good tomorrow.”
  • “We steer where we stare.”
  • “Saying yes all the time won’t make me wonder woman, it will make me worn-out woman.”
  • “Those who constantly try to impress others will quickly depress themselves.”
  • “Relationships help un-rush us.”

Summer Mornings

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I’ll miss summer mornings the most.

Going back to school is bittersweet. I know with 100% clarity that I am supposed to be teaching this next school year. God gave me the signs.

That being said, summer mornings are a gift I’ll long for until next June. The quiet of the day with a fresh cup of hazelnut coffee are moments of peace my reflective mind needs. Weekends are great, but they don’t offer the no-papers-to-grade weight off of my shoulders.

When Elijah wakes up, he’s the happiest kid just kicking and babbling in his crib. I love giggling with him and playing around on the floor while George and Robin tell us the latest news on GMA. I love a day without plans except to enjoy each other’s company with books, stroller rides, and snuggling.

I’m so thankful for this summer and the unforgettable memories of watching my baby grow.

Dr. Pitcher

img_4489So many things would have turned out differently if Dr. Pitcher wasn’t the one who operated on our son that Easter Saturday.

When we were transported to UIHC, everything happened so quickly. There wasn’t any time to meet with the surgeon before Elijah was taken to the OR. We first met Dr. Pitcher when he came up the stairs to the family lounge to give John, me, and our families the devastating news of Elijah’s malrotation and dead bowel.

The fact that Dr. Pitcher intentionally nicked an artery, which bleed and therefore made him wait before removing Elijah’s entire bowel, is huge part
of the miracle. This man was called in during the middle of the night to do his job and he explained to us that he went against surgery protocol because something was telling him to wait. We’re so thankful he listened because God was working on healing Elijah.

Although Dr. Pitcher had a team of surgeons and other doctors and nurses who assisted him in the OR and saw Elijah daily, this man (and his future patients) will always have a place in my prayers.

When we saw Dr. Pitcher last week, he walked in the door and said, “How’s my Easter miracle!” He then proceeded to pick Elijah up and give him a kiss on the forehead. I was in tears of thanksgiving.

Aside from explaining general concerns that come with undergoing multiple surgeries, Dr. Pitcher gave us no reason to worry. He said that he doesn’t need to follow up with Elijah, but he’d like to see him next year “just because he makes my day”. I can happily schedule that appointment.

Community of Faith Scholarship

“Everything we have is given to us on loan from God.” Archbishop Jackles reminded us of this Tuesday evening during the Donor’s Recognition Reception at my school.

Two examples of this message include my generous parents.

Without John or my knowledge, my parents met with my school principal over the summer and developed a scholarship in honor of Elijah. My parents felt the Xavier community helped instill a foundation of faith in me that provided the stability we all needed while going through Elijah’s first week of life and four surgeries. I couldn’t agree more. It’s an incredible place, and I have gained more than I have given while fulfilling my vocation.

While my parents could have used this money for so many other worthy causes, they want to make sure it is used for tuition assistance for a need-based family year-after-year. Their gift is so much more than financial. They are giving students the gift of a Catholic education.

My parents asked John and me to name the scholarship. After prayerfully considering a few different options, we felt the community of faith was the foundation. The scholarship is named the Elijah James Wagner Community of Faith Scholarship.

My parents were presented a plaque on Tuesday night during the program, and I can only imagine the updates I will be able to provide to them about how their money is going to great use in the years to come.

My humble parents will hate that I’m blogging about this because they don’t want their name attached to the scholarship. I’m going against those wishes because I think it’s important to recognize this gift and promote the act of donating to worthy causes.

We all know that we can’t take anything with us when we go. Since no day is guaranteed, how are you going to use what God gave you to help others?  I can tell you that after the year we’ve had, new charities including The Ronald McDonald House and the UIHC Children’s hospital are now at the top of our list. Please find a cause deep in your heart and give in any way you can.

“Give, and it shall be given unto you” Luke 6:38.

ITEC

The first time I attended ITEC (Iowa Technology and Education Connection), I watched the presenters in awe. They were confident about their subject matter and carried a contagious excitement for education.

Year after year, I’ve gone back to this conference for the best professional development. Through following these educators on Twitter, I’ve had the opportunity to see their work long after ITEC completes. This has helped me see these professionals, who I viewed as education celebrities, as real people. This gave me the courage to make it a professional goal to join them on the presentation stage someday.

Two years ago I submitted my thesis material to ITEC and had the opportunity to have my data on display outside of the main ballroom. I spent a couple of hours informally presenting my research to educators stopping by and wondering about iPads in the classroom. My research compared writing with paper and pencil vs. iPads.

This year, my friend Tracie encouraged me to apply to one of the hour-long presentation slots. We brainstormed a few ideas and settled on “Making Writing Come Alive”.

It was selected!

Session Description: Motivate your students to improve their writing by connecting with people outside the classroom. Using Weebly or other blog platforms, Aurasma, and even collaborating with local news organizations increases student engagement.

After I shared the exciting news that my session was selected, I went to bed that night thinking “What did I get myself into?” “This is going to be a lot of work!” While those thoughts remain, I’m doing my best to set the negativity aside and remember this is a professional goal that will help stretch me and build my confidence in the classroom.

I’m thankful that after eight years in the classroom, my desire to be a better teacher has never been stronger. I know I could improve in a lot of areas, and I’m looking forward to ITEC again this year to help give me more efficient ways to reach my students each day.

Mollie’s Baptism

IMG_1668 IMG_1643Welcome to God’s family, Mollie Margaret!

May you always be open to God’s call and know His unconditional love for you.

I’m honored to stand by your side in this journey of faith as your Godmother. Your health and happiness are a part of my daily prayers.

God bless this child!