The sweetest time of our lives

Friday, February 2, 2018

"All good things come from God, but babies are his specialty."















Oh Baby!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Writing this down so it is recorded in internet history!

We have a child! Lidia Maria Twaalfhoven is now 24 weeks in utero (here are some shots of her at 20 weeks) and she is expected to make her arrival on March 19th, 2018.

Here are some pregnancy deets I need to make sure not to forget:

Found out I was pregnant on July 18th 2017 (roughly 6 weeks along/ 4 weeks after conception/ a couple of weeks after the running of the bull, yikes!)
Felt very tired and nauseated most days until the the second semester began.
Once the second semester began I felt super energetic and hungry all of a sudden!
Began pregnancy at 137-138 pounds.
In the past two months I have gained about 12 pounds!



A Teacher's First Year

Wednesday, August 9, 2017



"Teenagers scare the living s**** out of me. They could care less as long as someone'll bleed..." - My Chemical Romance


And so my first year of teaching has come to a close. I did not think I would say this but I am now looking forward to school again, to meeting all the new students and their unique personalities and quirks. This is, of course, a very different feeling from the one I had on the last day of school, when I could not wait to break free from the confines of my classroom. But now I miss it and am ready to do it again.


My year began with the naiveté of thinking that students would simply absorb my love for the content I was teaching, and would be so in love with Theology (and why wouldn't they be?) that I would never have classroom management issues or students simply being mean for the fun of it. I was wrong (surprise, surprise) as there is a lot more technique to teaching than simply knowing your stuff. So here are some thoughts from my first year of teaching:


1. You will fall in love with some students (not in a creepy way).
I found that so many students required very little incentive to do their job. They went above and beyond, never made excuses, always asked clarifying questions if they were unsure and were just a pleasure to have in class. During the really tough stretches of teaching, thinking about how committed these students were to doing well and to learning kept me from despairing and thinking all I was doing was pointless. I think I will always remember these students and will certainly miss them!


2. Some students really could not care less (see lyrics at the top).
Talking to a more experienced teacher friend, we agreed there are a three types of high school students: the brilliant A student who works so hard, the student who struggles, doesn't always complete assignments and lacks motivation but has a heart of gold, and the jerk who comes in late only to disrupt class.


Because I suspect most teachers were also good students (I could be totally wrong), we have come to expect that by doing xy and z, we will get results x, y and z. That wasn't always the case for me this year. Sometimes your hard work simply doesn't yield the results you dream of. This is specially true for dealing with students who are checked out. I doesn't matter how many conversations are had and how many times after-school help is offered, your students are people endowed with free will (Theology term!) and they are ultimately free to choose what is beneficial to them (or to reject it).


One thing that helped me in working with students who either did not seem to care or seemed to be out to get me, was to deal with issues early (I wish I knew this in September!). Whether it's pulling the student aside for a talk or contacting a parent, it is best to not allow problems to grow.


3. Ask for help!
One of the most helpful things this year was the guidance of an instructional coach. I was lucky that my friend Lauren Lyman from Aquinas Education was willing to come in once a week for two or three months to mentor me. Her coaching was life-changing! From simple strategies such as setting up my classroom differently, to dealing with tricky behavioral issues, her feedback was invaluable and I now feel much more confident going into my second year!


While the services of an instructional coach may be costly (I was lucky to receive it for free), many schools provide mentorship for new teachers. If not, I wouldn't be afraid to simply ask a department chair or a colleague to drop in to your classroom every once in a while for some non-evaluative feedback. I am grateful that the school I will begin teaching at this year has a mentorship program in which new teachers regularly meet with and are coached by veteran teachers.


4. Organization will save your life.
This is one area in which I excelled this year (I knew there had to be one!) Staying on top of grading gave me a sense that I was staying afloat (even when I was not). I can say the same for carrying around a clipboard to check off work as it was turned in and posting very clear and accurate summaries of each day on the online portal. While some students would still ask: "Did I miss something yesterday?", being able to refer them to the portal saved me some valuable time. This also helps when communicating with parents. And  on that topic...


5. COMMUNICATE WITH PARENTS.
As a young teacher, I often felt intimidated by parents (imposter syndrome wicked bad). But I found that problems could often be avoided by simply giving a parent a heads up on their child's behavior. This is not only their right as their children's first educators but it creates a more collaborative relationship. We are all on the same team, after all, even when it doesn't feel that way.


6. Fake it 'till you make it.
So much of life is about showing up and looking ready, isn't it? The one gift I would like to have given myself back in the fall was the gift of confidence, of realizing that I knew my stuff (or at least knew more than the students) and was ready to teach it. Since I struggle with the confidence piece sometimes, and teaching is often a learn-as-you go deal, I need to be okay with not knowing everything but at least trying to appear as I do.


I'm not sure if this helps, but I certainly wish I had known this stuff before my first year of teaching. Which by the way, is the hardest profession ever, am I right?

Euro Trip 2017 part 2

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

After Spain, we set off to Portugal. There is a very small airport in Pamplona, Spain that offers a few daily flights to Madrid during the Feast of San Fermin. After a long layover in Madrid (during which I wisely took time to get my hair done at the airport), we arrived in Lisbon during one of the hottest days of the year. Thankfully, everything in Lisbon is only a short distance away and we soon arrived at the hotel.

We stayed at Hotel Duas Nações, which offered a good breakfast but had no A.C. (at least not in the room we booked). Did I mention it was one of the hottest days of the year? So yes, it was very warm, although bearable. The reason I would consider this hotel again, however, is the location, location, location. We were only a few steps away from the Praça do Comércio, the elevator to the Castle of St. George and other sights. If you want to see a lot of Lisbon and are crushed for time,  we would recommend this hotel. 


If you find yourself in Lisbon, three things are highly recommended:

1. Visit the Castle of St. George for amazing views of the city.




2. Eat bacalhau (Portuguese cod). 

3. Shop! The week we were in Europe was a major "rebajas" week. Sales everywhere from Barcelona to Lisbon. I only wish we had more time to hit up stores. 

Because the centennial of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal were this year, we decided to go on a short trip to Fatima. We took a bus from Sete Rios bus station and arrived in about an hour. We originally thought about 4 hours would be spent there, but it turned out 2 hours were sufficient. It was so hot we just kept moving! 




After Portugal we flew to London, where we spent some time with my husband's cousin. He took us on a tour of London, where we visited the Tate Modern, a really interesting art gallery with some Picasso's and Dali's. 





After doing all the touristy things in London (walking by Kensington Palace, The Big Ben, St. Paul's, etc.) we stopped for lunch at Founders' Arms and had the traditional fish and chips and pulled pork sandwiches. Yum!!!! 





We drove five hours from London to Exeter, where we rode bikes around "The Quay", an area with shops and pubs. 




Another hour of driving brought us to Bovey Tracey, where hub's godmother lives. Walking around the picturesque town, eating pasties and learning more about my husband's family was the perfect end to our time in Europe! On our second day in Bovey Tracey we went on a PAW (perfectly awful walk) at Pew Tor in Dartmoor. It was actually fun!!! 





On our last day in England we drove back (on the left, of course) to Heathrow Airport and I have to admit I missed home so badly! 



Euro Trip 2017 part 1

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

After much planning and preparation, our trip to Europe went on without a hitch! Here are some highlights and ideas: 

Holland

On the Fourth of July we arrived in Holland (how patriotic!) for a few days of meeting family and exploring. 

We began by going out to dinner at Djakarta in Utrecht . Fun fact: Indonesia was once a Dutch colony and many Indonesians have since moved to the Netherlands (and many have started restaurants!). While I'm not a huge fan of sate sauce, a spicy peanut dipping sauce, the beef skewers were great. 


Since we were staying with family, we had access to bikes with which to go visit grandparents and sightsee. 



Utrecht was so quaint and fun, and certainly left me with a great impression of Holland! The long bike rides, delicious pancakes and time spent with family made for a great first week of our vacation. 

By the way, I highly recommend the pancakes at The Pancake Bakery Muntkelder. We had the ham & cheese, bacon & cheese and banana apple and they were to die for! 

We spent a day in Amsterdam, which we found a bit too busy. We did love mass at St. Nicholas Church and walking around the neighborhood of Anne Frank's house (the lines to get in were out the door!)



Spain

After Utrecht we flew to Barcelona, for a packed day that included visiting the Sagrada Familia, mass at the Cathedral (beautiful), watching the Sardanes (a traditional Catalunian dance), walking along the Passeig de Gracia and eating tapas (at 10PM!) with friends. 





We then headed to Navarra for the Feast of San Fermin, which is celebrated in Pamplona every year from the 6th to the 14th of July. 

On the way there we stopped by a monastery in Montserrat, at the top of a beautiful mountain range. The monastery offers beautiful views and a gorgeous basilica. 





The feast of San Fermin in Pamplona is famous because of the running of the bulls and let me say there is a whole continuum of stupidity when it comes to participating in that! While our group was happy to stay along the sides as the bulls ran past us, some more courageous runners attempt to run with the bulls (often in front of them!) At the end of each run (they have them each morning at 8AM), the bulls are at the stadium, where they will inevitably meet their fate. We didn't want to watch the bulls' deaths (totally unnecessary) so we took a drive to Loyola, the birthplace of St. Ignatius. This was one of the highlights of our time in Spain, so we highly recommend visiting it! 



One down, eternity to go...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Yesterday marked our first anniversary. We spent it in the sweeter of ways, sleeping in, breakfast in bed, completing a crossword puzzle about our relationship and going to Mass. What a good year, what joy and what a husband!

Here are some pics taken a week before our anniversary:






All the days of our lives...

Monday, October 24, 2016




So... I've been a Mrs. for exactly six months. Six beautiful, cozy, awesome months. Thank you Jesus for Nick!!!

While the "in sickness and in health" part definitely reared its ugly head this week with the Mr. having septum surgery and all, not a day goes by when I don't feel incredibly grateful for the man I married. Here's to many more half anniversaries!!!



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