The Return of Elizabelle…

23 Oct

Amusingly, if you look at the date of the post just prior to this one, it doesn’t look like I’ve been gone that long.  But it’s been 2 years!  Yes. I am back from a two year hiatus. I was really tired? I forgot how to write? I was on a secret mission to Jupiter? Take your pick.

So what brings me back to the blogging world? After all; I didn’t return when Clark became a big brother to Edison on my freaking birthday in 2013. I didn’t return when I made the conscious decision to give up my limited free time and work with the youth ministry again. I didn’t return when my first biological niece (Bellagrace: she gorgeous!) was born last May and I didn’t return when I had the best summer in over a decade. So why now?

Because of timing. Specifically God’s timing. Last spring and early summer I interviewed at 10 schools for jobs. TEN. I interviewed for just about everything; high school history, middle school history, middle school language arts, 5th and 6th grade social studies, 5th grade social studies and writing and a “what do I have to lose” shot at an instructional specialist position. I didn’t get any of them. I got 10 interviews, but couldn’t close the deal on a single one. I was pretty crushed. Some of the rejections were a lot harder to take than others. I joked that God was probably like, “Seriously, stop interviewing! You aren’t going anywhere!”  But there was a whole other part of me that felt like I needed to persevere and keep trusting that the right job was out there. And it was. It just wasn’t the job I expected.

About 2 months ago I started my 9th year at Northbrook Middle School. I can’t believe  going to say this, but I am so glad I am there. From the beginning of inservice week I could feel that something was different, but I wasn’t sure what it was. I think it was Wednesday of the first week of school when all of a sudden I realized… My attitude was so different! Gone were the days of being frustrated by a student’s lack of English proficiency. All of a sudden I took every opportunity available to TRY to speak to them in Spanish. I found myself googling phrases that I didn’t know in Spanish so that I could tell a kid how proud I was of his hard work or how much i appreciated the risk she took to answer a question in class. I found myself going above and beyond to reach every kid. Y’all this is not how I ran my classroom before. Now it’s 2 months later. I have made parent phone calls to moms who only speak Spanish without a translator. I have attended so many trainings on strategies for reaching our ELL kids. My students have invented a thing they call “Ms Clark’s word of the day”. This is where they teach me a new Spanish word every day and I have to use it 5 times before the end of the day.  My vocabulary is so much bigger than before!

It’s funny; while I was in Spain this past summer I found myself wishing I knew more Spanish and wanting to be able to talk to the parents on drop off and pick up days. I’ve always been someone who tries to speak the language when I am traveling.  I don’t ever want to be an obnoxious American tourist, so here I was in Spain, and I can’t really talk to the people.  It made me feel so uneducated…. actually that isn’t accurate.  I’ve had 3 years of high school Spanish and 2 years of college Spanish.  I am not “uneducated”, I am “woefully deficient”!  Anyway, then I marveled at my hypocrisy.  Yes, these were different kids, and yes they came from a totally different culture than my little Central and South American kids, but HOW was I that concerned over communicating with these kids who had been in my life for less than a week, and I’ve never given the kids and parents here at school the time of day when it comes to knowing Spanish?   I realized that my attitude had been really poor for several years.  Yes, the behaviors had been atrocious in those years, but that didn’t excuse my apparent apathy toward them.  So I have to give a little bit of credit to that trip.  I’d like to think I would have come to the realization anyway, but who knows for sure.  It was definitely the beginning of the turn in my attitude and for that I am so grateful.

But it’s more than the language.  I somehow genuinely care more for the kids.  I think that I really believed that I cared about them before and certainly on some level I really did, but not as fully as I do now.  I am so much more patient with the kids.  When I am frustrated I am handling things much better.  This is seriously one of the biggest answers to prayer I have ever seen in my life. I keep waiting for the adrenaline to wear off and it just doesn’t.  I knew that God had a reason for keeping me at Northbrook; He had to have!  With all the opportunities that were set before me and all the doors that were blatantly closed I knew that this was going to be big.  But this experience has been beyond my wildest of expectations.  I am so thankful.

Now, I still think that my time to move on is coming, but there is no denying that this is where I needed to be this year!

Hanging with Hannah

19 Oct

What are you doing this weekend?

Nope, don’t care… mine’s better.  I am hanging out with my cherished “niece” Hannah Grace.  She is 16 and awesome.







Jealous?  You should be.  We’re awesome.  We might go get tattoos that are the Native American sign for being wasted.  Or we might not.  Currently Harry Potter 6 is occupying our attention.

All we need is the Kik-ster and some Hoedown Throwdown to make this party even more legit.


Catching Up…because, you know, it’s been a while.

18 Oct

I’m going to ignore the fact that you are dying to know how I managed to climb back onto the planet I fell off of 6 weeks ago.  Just so we’re on the same page.  I have my reasons. Moving on…

School- I still like my kids (for the most part).  That’s it.

Volleyball- We don’t suck!

Bible Study- I make it on the Monday nights I don’t have a volleyball game.

Friends- See them less now that school started, but still making the effort.

Mom- keeps forgetting she had hip surgery 3 months ago, so she tries to step up onto things with her right leg.  She cracks me up.

Sister- entering her 3rd trimester with baby Peanut Aloicious Hoffman. (this may not be his actual name once he is born.  I mean, don’t go getting anything monogrammed or whatever…)

But you and I both know that this is what you really care about…







Clarkie has teeth!!  And he can (sort of) stand up!  And he’s still SOOO cute!  And TODAY he is 10 months old!!

Adventures with my mom: cell phone edition

2 Sep

A few weeks ago my cousin Valerie posted on her wall a picture with the caption, “Mother-Daughter Car Purchase”.  She and her mom had bought matching (although different color) cars.  I thought to myself, That’s cute.  Mom and I will probably have to stick with matching flip flops from the Bass Outlet Store or something.

On a somewhat unrelated note, my mom has had issues with her “cell phone” for months.  I have to put quotation marks because… well, here.  See for yourself.

This is called a Doro Phone… so that’s cute since my mom’s name is Dorothy.  This is from a company called Consumer Cellular.  They cater to senior citizens and it was simply a very basic phone.  I told her when she got it that it might  not be super-reliable for very long, and she admitted that I might be correct, but she had to do it her way.  But seriously?  I was right and she told me so last night :)

Let me point a few things out.  I’ll start with the most scandalous.  Yes, there is scotch tape holding the battery in place.

There is a camera.  I think it is just for show since photos were never eligible to be used in any way, shape or form.  This meant that she couldn’t send pictures she took anywhere.

She also couldn’t receive pictures that were texted to her.  Now 9 months ago this was hardly an issue, but then Clarkie was born and out of nowhere a working camera was a ncesessity.

She also had a really hard time texting. I don’t know why.  I mean, look at that keyboard.  It is freaking STATE OF THE ART!!!!

Anyway, back in July we made plans to go get her hooked up with a new phone.  I was going to put her on my plan.  We were going to go on July 16.  Do you remember what happened July 15?  That would be the night that mom tripped while emptying trash and trashed her hip instead.  So we decided that Sept. 1 would be out new Phone Day.  Since I was eligible for an upgrade we went shopping last night.  I got a Samsung Galaxy.

So did mom. (!!!!!)

So she went from the aforepictured to this:

Now THAT’S a phone!


And yay me for getting to teach her how to use it…..

My mom is so cute!

One day short of a full week of school… yay Friday!!

31 Aug

As promised I took pictures of my room at school.

More importantly, after 2 days running a regular schedule I have decided that this group of 8th graders is about as awesome as they come.  For serious.  I don’t know that I will feel this way every single day so today I made something.  It is a sheet of paper that reads:

“These kids….”

Are totally awesome!

Follow procedures really well!

Are well-behaved and do their homework!!

Then I dated it, and any time I feel down on these kids I’m going to look at it and remind myself that they are COMPLETELY capable of doing the right thing and I just have to be firm and stick with the program.

Okay, here are the pictures of my classroom.

This is from the door to my classroom. Note the window… there’s a close up later. Note the bulletin board. 2 boys in my Advisory (homeroom) put the whole thing up!

Okay, this is standing at the front of my room. In the picture, the door is just to the right of the American flag. Check out my Homework that like, 90% of my studnets completed!! WOO-HOOOOOO!!!  Oh and my presidents board topper!

CABINETS!!!! I almost hyperventilate just thinking about them! Also underneath the Texas flag is my technology cart thing. It stores TONS of devices which I am apparently getting tomorrow or something…

Ohmygosh. My favorite thing EVER! The amazing blue/green/teal wall. It is just so pretty! Also, eventually there are going to be small white boards on either side of my Activboard which is why there is nothing in that empty space. Oh and the perspective is from the back of the room next to the bookcase.

My command center. It’s hard to say what my favorite part is…. no it isn’t. It’s the multi-colored drawers next to the mini-fridge. I love them!

From my desk, looking out the door.

My window. The flag…. thing… whatever was given to me by another teacher!! This window also now sports blinds. It didn’t yesterday :)

I (try to) run a tight ship. These are my class procedures.

Have I mentioned how glad I am that tomorrow is Friday???  AND… bonus!!  Monday is a holiday!!!

The last, last, last day of summer vacay :(

26 Aug

School starts tomorrow.  I love my room at school.  It isn’t quite done.  It was just constructed this summer and the workers have a couple more things to do.  But hopefully by Tuesday I will post pics!!

In other news, this kid…



turned the big 0-4 yesterday and his impossibly awesome aunt got his this stylish fireman’s outfit.  Clearly she is awesome…. As those of you who frequent this blog know, Abraham LOVES dressing up.  I love this kid!!!

In other news, kind of related, but only because it involves my sister’s kids.  This adorable young man


is also going to be a big brother!!  Yep, Teresa is expecting the little peanut in January.

Annnnd that’s all I got for now!

75 days of profound thankfulness

16 Aug

On June 2 I woke up to my first official day of summer vacation.  Of course most of it was spent packing for the Washington DC trip starting the next day, but I remember waking up that Saturday morning and thinking, “This is it.  My summer WILL rock.”  And then it did.

Now let me begin my telling you what my summer has been like for the past several years.  June is always busy.  Always.  But then July hits and I begin my marathon “will she or won’t she leave the house today and take a break from the Bones or One Tree Hill episodes on Netflix” coupled with, “hey, I have plans one whole day this week!  SCORE!!!” and of course, “why aren’t any of my friends calling me?  I’d do something it someone asked me, but no one loves me enough to call me”.  Ugh.

I’m not going to give too much of this away because you can read about it on my friend Lindsey’s blog next week (or whenever), but I realized that my friend skillz were seriously lacking and I needed to quit being a gloomy gus and make things happen for myself!


I’ve spoken about the goals that I had for myself; and the fact that I finished the book was monumental.  But what I really want to tell you about, what excites me to the point that I don’t think I can truly explain it with words is the way that many of my friendships developed.  I’m going to tell you about three of them.  Now, it took a village to give me the summer that I had and I don’t want anyone to feel left out.  At the same time I can’t tell ALLLL the stories.  They are too many to name.  Actually , you know what?  I can’t narrow it to 3.  I just can’t.  So I’m going to do this instead:

Jessica- I am so thankful that after 3 years at Northbrook, 1 early morning parking lot dance session (caught on camera), 1 raucous season of volleyball, 147 various types of markers, a shared obsession with Tim Tebow, lots of Starbucks and knowing that I can always show up in jeans, a t-shirt and sneaks we are still growing in our friendship and I am SO glad that we became friends.  You have helped make my summer amazing!!

Kyle- I don’t know what we are going to do without Van this year, but at least with Susie in the mix we are “the blondes of Area 5″!!  Thank you for organizing all our Monday meals.  I had so much fun meeting and discussing our various adventures.  I am so thankful for your friendship.  You have helped make my summer amazing!

Tamara- You started the whole thing.  You told that I needed to change the way I though and YOU WERE RIGHT!!  Thanks for inviting me to home school family events, for opening your home when I wanted to kick off my summer right by dropping in unexpectedly, for letting me come to the Lake House, for all the swimming fun that we’ve had.  You are the kick in the pants that I need and I adore you!  You have helped make my summer amazing!

Lindsey C.- I had so much fun teaching Madeline about Texas, hanging out with Collin at Tamara’s (before broken arm-gate), learning that I will get much further with Jude by giving him a high-5 than tickling his little tummy and getting smiles from Spencer.  More than that though, I love how we have bonded over writing, insanely cute dresses, making groups of 4 when Katy very specifically said 2’s or 3’s, and allowing God to transform the way we view others.  I am so thankful that we are getting to know each other better.  You have helped make my summer amazing!

Julie- I can’t imagine how messed up I would be without you to even me out!!  I am so honored to be Marisa’s Aunt KK!!  Thanks for all the lunches, dinners, breakfasts, trips to the mall, rides to and from the airport and being the best pre-editor a girl could ever ask for.  You have helped make my summer amazing!!!

These don’t even include how much, despite the whole broken hip unpleasantness, I enjoyed hanging out with my mom.  She is doing so much better, by the way.  She goes to physical therapy twice a week and she is currently living with her 88 year old Aunt.  They have walker races and stuff.  Because of her hospitalization, both at Methodist and then at Rehab and then because of the fact that she can’t drive (because she broke her right hip) we have spent A LOT of time together and despite what she thinks, it was NOT a bother at all!!  Mom, you helped make my summer amazing.  Also, my sister and her so-cute-it-should-be-illegal children… they definitely helped make my summer amazing.

So you see, blessed doesn’t even begin to cover it.  Naming those 5 (well, 7 counting those related to me….) doesn’t even skim the surface.  There are so many things I want to say, but I just can’t even find the words.  Every one of those 75 days I was thankful for my friends and family.  I thank God for all of you; for the support you have been, for the encouragement, for the prayers, for the words of tough love, for the hugs, for the investment.

YOU have made my summer amazing!!


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