It’s a (Christmas) (New Years) (Valentine’s) (St. Patrick’s) Easter Family Update

If you are a teacher, and you manage to get out a family letter or holiday card, I salute you. I cannot. School lets out in December and I collapse. I’ve just written 85 report card comments and graded a ridiculous pile of essays.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel some guilt and write it in my head. So here is my Easter update on the Griswold family.

As you may remember, after 5 years teaching middle school humanities, I have moved back to high school English. (Before coming to Graded, I taught HS English in Nashville for 7 years.) It’s been a great change for me. The most important thing a teacher can do is recognize when they need change.

Like teaching any new class, it has kicked my butt in the best of ways. I’ve felt really stimulated and energized by my new teaching teams. I’ve enjoyed reading and teaching new novels. And I am again delighted by high school students. If you are tired of the age group you teach, go check out another one. They have different problems and different strengths, and it reminds you that change and growth happen and kids aren’t static.

I’m teaching three classes, English 9, IB Language and Literature SL year one, and Theory of Knowledge year 2. 3 preps is hard, but I’m keeping my head above water.

My freshman are currently reading Romeo and Juliet–my heart leaps up. How I’ve missed teaching Shakespeare! My juniors are reading Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried. What a revelation. My TOK students just finished their capstone TOK essay, and it was really awesome to support them through that process.

If there’s a big takeaway for me from this year back in high school, it’s that I love teaching writing. I love pulling beautiful sentences out of the texts we read. I love helping students plan and outline. I love conferencing and reading drafts. I love supporting student writing.

David continues to teach 9th grade math and IB computer science standard level and higher level, year one and two.

Calvin is starting to get into his groove in 6th grade. He is playing the flute in beginning band. Specifically, he is playing the flute I played in middle school and high school that was a gift from my grandfather. It’s really nice to have that instrument passed down through our family. Last semester he grudgingly ran cross country, but this semester he was cast as the Narrator in our school’s production of Into the Woods! He is really enjoying that. The production will be in May, and we are all very excited. I think Matilda and Everett will be able to sing along with every song.

When he’s not in school, Calvin codes, draws, whittles, plays D&D and reads. And antagonizes his siblings.

Matilda is loving 4th grade. She’s in student council and the green club, and she’s doing drama, wall climbing and swim team after school. She loves playing outside after school with her friends in our condominium. She’s at that awesome stage where she is always choreographing dances with her friends and singing in front of the mirror. She’s grown a lot as a reader this year, and is drawn to realistic fiction books that deal with themes of fairness and equity.

Everett is still his quirky oddball self. 1st grade has been an adjustment for our pandemic kid, but he’s growing and maturing. He is currently obsessed with being read chapter books. After exhausting Roald Dahl’s oeuvre, we’ve been reading Kate DiCamillo and are now onto Judy Blume. He still loves all things science and nonfiction. He is often the slowest of the bunch as we walk anywhere because he is examining and collecting dead bugs from the ground. He learned to ride a bike last summer, after years of insisting some kids just don’t learn to ride a bike. Now, he says he most looks forwards to our summers in Minnesota because he can ride his bike in the senior center across the street, making loops around the “road islands”–what Everett calls the raised grass beds in the parking lot.

As for David and I, we are both running and weight training, (David grudgingly weight trains but runs faster than me without really trying–urgh!). David plays Ultimate Frisbee about once a month with some colleagues from school. I am still running a race about once a month. Usually I do a 5K, but occasionally I sign up for a 7K or 8K. David and I are still playing music together occasionally, and now we are often accompanied by at least one kid.

We’ve done a lot of amazing travel over this school year. Over the December-January 6 week break, we went to the Atacama desert in Chile, the Amazon, and David and I took a solo trip to the Mendoza wine region of Argentina. Over Carnaval break in February, we went to the state of Bahia in the Northeast of Brazil to the town of Praia do Forte.

Last summer, we became the owners of the townhouse in Northfield, Minnesota where we have spent the past 5 summers. It belonged to David’s parents, but we bought it from my father-in-law in June of 2023.

What comes next for the Griswold Family Circus in 2024? We fly back to the US in June and all three kids are attending a camp northeast of the Twin Cities. Matilda is doing horse camp and Calvin is doing a teen adventure challenge with a friend from Brazil who now lives in India. Everett is doing a traditional overnight camp for his first sleepaway camp experience. While the kids are off at camp, David and I are going on our own camping trip to the North Shore, specifically to Grand Marais, in northern Minnesota.

We will be doing a trip to the beach in North Carolina to see my side of the family, and we are excited for boogie boarding and hush puppies.

I wish everyone health, happiness, and peace in 2024.

A pause in our hike through the Amazon rainforest
David and I at a vineyard in Mendoza, Argentina
A highly salty mountain lake in the Atacama Desert
Mountains in the Atacama desert
Valle del Arcoiris in the Atacama Desert
Mars Valley in the Atacama Desert

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