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Redeem: Five Minute Friday

It feels so good to wake up on a Friday morning and make time to join in on the weekly link-up with other writers for Five Minute Friday. This is a group of writers who write using the same prompt for five minutes flat. No planning. No editing. Just raw thoughts and words inspired by the common theme. This week the prompt is Redeem:

This week marks the anniversary of shutdown here in Ohio. While so much has changed since a year ago, and our current status as a nation seems to be on the upswing, it is difficult to entertain memories of what life looked like before all of this without a bit of grief. I’ve mourned this week (and also this year) when I think about all that we missed out on. Cancelled trips, broken traditions, and missed loved ones have piled on top of one another and created a nearly insurmountable obstacle. These things have stolen joy and threatened faith. But with this year behind us there are so many signs of God’s redemption on our lives.

Where mourning once stood there is now healing.

Where longing once lived there is promise.

Where sorrow once sat there is joy.

With each passing day we are closer to the end of this pandemic. We are seeing orders lifted as the number of those infected decreases. This is what redemption looks like–we are overcoming and life is moving forward.

Last night, I visited with my grandparents that I have hardly seen in a year. As they welcomed us into their home under the protection of both Jesus and the vaccine, I felt the redemption and restoration. As Grandma reached out to me for a hug I remembered all the days that I longed for that over the past year. Time was stolen from our relationship, but God is redeeming all that was lost and broken. It is not yet time to let down our guards, but it is time that life begin to move past this.

Thank you, God, for your faithfulness to redeem all that has been broken.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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This Time Last Year…

Below is an actual entry from my Pandemic 2020 journal. In fact, it’s my first entry. As we begin to face the one year mark of the shut down I have been taking a look at how I have changed and developed over the past 365 days of life looking differently. Ironically, on the eve of this anniversary of quarantine, I received my second vaccine last week. It kicked my butt and made me pretty sick, but I am so glad I have the protection against the virus that rocked our world.

Here is a look at my very first entry. And cheers to the new normal not being our forever normal.

Date: Monday 3/16/20

Today is Sam’s birthday. And today the reality of this quarantine is setting in. As of yesterday, all restaurants are closed apart from pickup or delivery. All bars are closed. Schools are shut down until further notice. All in an effort to prevent the mass spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

A week ago, we planned for Sam to be in England for his birthday.

We planned for gifts to arrive during his trip and I scheduled play dates and events for Spring Break with my girls.

Thankfully, Sam is home with us today. However, it has drastically changed our plans as a family. Unfortunately, the mail service is slowed by the lockdowns and many of his gifts have not arrived. I know that he was really looking forward to spending his birthday at home for the first time in twelve years, but I’m also very happy to not have to worry about when he will make it home.

We have a friend who is from Oxford, but lives in Pickerington with his wife and kids. He had flown home for a funeral, and was stranded in England for quite some time with his three year old son. It’s been a very difficult time for that family and their separation, but thankfully he and Ollie are on a flight as I type, and hopefully they will be home in Ohio this evening. I can’t help but think that it could’ve been us separated. And I have no idea how I would weather this storm without Sam beside me. I am so thankful that he made the difficult decision to stay and I vow to do all in my power to make today a special day for him because he deserves it.

Today is the first true day of quarantine. It has forced us to be grateful for all things as a family and has also forced us to be creative with how we spend our time. We are going on a driving scavenger hunt today (because it’s too cold to be outside and even the gyms/libraries are closed). Sam will pick lunch wherever we end up and we will get carry-out and eat in the car or outside at a park.

The days look different today than we imagined. This isn’t the Spring Break we planned for nor is it the Spring Break we would want, but our new family motto is, “We are making the best of it!” We are working to enjoy this time as a family. It’s time to slow down. Time to forget the hustle. Time to remember what is most important in life. Time to recharge. Time to love. Time to forgive. And time to remember that we are all in this together.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Capsule Wardrobe Update and Spring Capsule Reveal

Before you read this post, please check out my review of Courtney Carver’s book Project 333. In this post, I explain the principles behind my Capsule wardrobe and my commitment to live according to the Project 333 plan for a year.

In December, I did a complete clear out/pack up of my wardrobe and set aside 33 pieces that I absolutely loved. I lived for 3 months wearing only items from my 33 piece capsule. And guess what…

I thrived.

Now that I have made it through an entire 3 month period dressing with 33 pieces I have some insight to offer:

1. People notice what we are wearing far less than we think they do. It’s okay to repeat outfits! No one cares!

2. We waste so much time picking through clothes that we NEVER wear. Why not limit our closets to ONLY the things we actually wear?

3. It’s best to stick to a neutral palette so that we maximize our options.

4. We can still have fun dressing with less. Mixing and matching can open up so many possibilities that we never would’ve thought of when we had a closet full of unworn pieces creating clutter.

5. When we feel comfortable and love every piece we feel more comfortable and JOYFUL daily.

The biggest setback to this method is the increase in frequency of doing the laundry. You aren’t washing more pieces, but having all the laundry done weekly is imperative.

I am so excited to take these tips and ideas with me into my second capsule. Here’s a look at the template that I developed for my Spring 2021 wardrobe (in my bullet journal):

Setting up this second capsule took about 2 hours. Ohio’s spring weather added a layer of complication to the process because I had to consider what I would wear in March-May (a time period with a potential for a wide weather variation.) I started by grabbing the totes from storage of out-of-season clothes that I LOVE (because I donated all the pieces I don’t love back in December and kept only what brought me joy…Marie Kondo style!)

Next, I went through all clothes and organized them into the categories from my template like tops, pants, shoes, etc. I dumped it all on my bed. This is a tip from Project 333, because it forces you to get it done in one day. You must dig out the clothes to get to your bed before nighttime.

Then, I played around with outfit combinations taking style and colors into consideration and selected the most favorable pieces in each category. Playing a nice, relaxing playlist during this part of the plan is helpful.

Finally, I hung up EVERY piece. This part is crucial. When you can see each of the pieces in your capsule it makes the process of creating outfits quick, easy, and fun.

This is my Spring 2021 capsule. I am so excited to dress with less and to embark on another Project 333 journey.

Happy Spring!!!!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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March 2021 Bullet Journal

I blinked and February 1st became March 1st. Time seems to be slipping through my fingers in 2021. We are on the cusp of the Covid-19 lock down anniversary. How is that even possible!?! At any rate, it is a new month and time to reveal and share my pages for March 2021.

But first a review of February

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I failed at keeping up and staying organized with my journaling in February. I started out well, but the deeper we got into the month the busier and less focused I became. Not to mention that I nearly had an entire week of snow days in there when I forgot the day of the week.

I did complete a really cute February review page with a Top 3 photo display using my new Sprocket photo printer. I like to wrap up each month sharing Top 3 photos from my phone and a brief description of things I’m into at the time. Those pages are really fun to both make and to revisit down the road. They may be my very favorite pages of the bullet journal process because they serve as a mini time capsule.

So without further ado, my March 2021 spreads:

Cover Page: House Plant Theme

One of the top Bullet Journal influencers on social media is Amanda Rach Lee. I’ve never done a recreation of her entire theme before, but I decided to try it out this month. All of the houseplant designs are inspired by Amanda Rach Lee and her March 2021 Plan With Me video on Youtube.

2. March Calendar

This month’s simple calendar layout is made up of small boxes and plenty of blank space for notes and dates.

3. Fitness Spread

Here’s to hoping I fill more of this spread in March than how I did in February.

4. Meal Tracking Spread

Because writing it down helps me stay accountable!

5. Weekly Spread and Habit Tracker

This is a very simple weekly spread with a small habit tracker in one corner and illustration in the other.

I kept it all simple this week. As for the tools I used in creating these spreads I stuck to a basic color scheme of teal and light gray Tombow Dual Brush pens. All illustration was done using a Tombow Fudenoske hard tip pen. I used a milky white gel pen to write the dates and accent spreads–and that’s all! I hope you enjoyed this peek into my 2021 Bujo!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Enable: Five Minute Friday

It’s so nice to start my Friday off with a link-up with the Five Minute Friday community. This is an encouraging collection of bloggers who share a common prompt on Fridays and spend five minutes free writing on the topic–no editing. I’ve met some great writers in this group. I highly recommend you check it out if you are not already familiar.

Now, on to the prompt…

Enable-give (someone or something) the authority or means to do something. (Oxford English Dictionary)

Ode to Coffee 🙂

I wake to the sound of a chirping alarm,

To cover my head and stay where it’s warm.

The struggle to rise is a daily ordeal.

I fight with my mind: I can’t think; I can’t feel.

To my feet I must get,

There is work to be done;

Life to be lived;

Great things to be won.

But what is the difference between groggy and chipper?

It’s a hot pot of coffee,

To which,

I’m the sipper.

Oh, Coffee, you wake me with such a delight.

If I have you with me I can win any fight.

I can conquer the world with you by my side.

Oh, simple black coffee, you are saving my life.

You enable my body to wake up and go,

To accomplish big things and to learn and to grow.

Woe to the day when I cannot have you.

For that day my bed will just have to do.

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Curriculum Rehab: Teacher Tuesday

As a teacher, I have never felt more engaged with my curriculum!

During the pandemic, I found a podcast, Brave New Teaching, which was really like finding my people. This is a podcast created by Amanda Cardenas and Marie Morris and it is for teachers who challenge the status quo.

For so long I’ve looked for educators who are like minded and I’ve found that while there are other phenomenal teachers out there, my pedagogy was just too “new age” for most. I can respect any educator who pours themselves into what is best for kids and I understand that looks differently in every classroom. But when I listen to Brave New Teaching, I no longer feel like this crazy teacher who is excited about technology, engagement, collaboration, book clubs, etc. I realize that there are others out there like me and I am so thankful for having found this community of ELA teachers who get behind all of the same methods that I do and who are not afraid of trying new methods and strategies.

As an added bonus, the same teachers who created Brave New Teaching also created a PD masterclass called Curriculum Rehab. (Check it out!)

This winter I reached out to my Curriculum Director and asked her to purchase Curriculum Rehab for me to help me redesign and refocus my instruction. This was money well spent, because I was able to immediately bring ideas to my classroom and from what I can tell the students are loving it!

Some big takeaways from Curriculum Rehab for me were:

-creating an overarching course essential question

-promoting student driven inquiry to form unit plans

-creating units based on essential questions; not texts

-designing formative assessments to measure skills; not memorization

-developing classroom community and engagement

-giving students agency in their own learning

-managing the amount of grading that goes along with this type of curriculum

-using supplemental texts to enhance instruction and to create connections

-applying standards to real world interests and needs for students

Amanda and Marie will be opening up Curriculum Rehab again soon. If any of this appeals to you, I highly recommend diving in. If you aren’t in a position to devote time to a masterclass right now then I highly recommend their podcast which is updated every THURSDAY!

In a time where I see so many educators burnt out and just trying to survive, I feel like I have new life breathed into my instruction because of these tools.

I am wrapping up my first unit since beginning the Curriculum Rehab implementation. It’s taken a while to get through the unit because of all the snow days recently. Once I have data and a sense of how the unit went I will share 🙂

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Happy Birthday TWO

I have chosen to nickname my children ONE and TWO on here to protect their privacy and safety.

Today my youngest (TWO) is turning 3 years old!

These past three years have been filled with so much joy and laughter. She is such an independent, rambunctious, hilarious, and animated addition to our perfect little family. God knew we needed her soul and spirit to complete us. I am so blessed to be her Mommy.

Happy Birthday TWO!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Save Lands

*This post uses affiliate links

my bohemian ring set from Save Lands

Over the weekend I was introduced to a new ethical brand, Save Lands. My husband took me to dinner for some dairy free pizza (at Pies and Pints) and then as a Valentines gift he gave me a bohemian ring set–something I’ve been wanting for a while.

Since December, I have been implementing Project 333 in my wardrobe meaning that I’ve built a 3 month capsule of 33 pieces. Part of Project 333 also teaches you to choose ethical brands with values you get behind when purchasing is necessary. That’s why I am so proud of my hubby who shopped around for an ethical brand when looking to buy my ring set.

Save Lands has a partnership with Trees For the Future and together they plant 12 trees for every item sold. My ring set came with a certificate of support which explained that my husband’s purchase planted “fast-growing, soil rebuilding trees.” Additionally, “they promote the long-term health of land, families, and communities, breaking the cycle of generational poverty, and leaving a legacy of hope for the future.” Now, that’s a brand I can get behind and a promise I can support.

That being said, I am partnering with Save Lands as an affiliate.

Any purchases you make using my affiliate link will grant me a small commission. But it isn’t about the money for me–it’s about brand awareness and paying it forward when we must buy. Check out some of their cute stuff below:

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Hamlet: A Book Review

Title: Hamlet (print+audio)

Author: William Shakespeare

Publisher: Folger Shakespeare Library (Audible)

Length: 3 hours 32 minutes

Photo Credit: Audible

In the past decade I have not had the chance to add a new Shakespearean play to my log. Admittedly, I don’t turn to Shakespeare to scratch my itch for literature or fiction. I don’t find myself in want of a new drama or comedy, but if those genres were atop my list then Shakespeare would be king and my collection of his books complete. There is no ill-will within me toward the great bard, but Shakespeare is a little out of category from the typical books I reach for on a shelf.

I am currently in the middle of earning my Master’s degree in English (from BGSU) and as one of my course assignments, I read Hamlet for the first time EVER!

Admittedly, Romeo and Juliet is the only play I’ve read by Shakespeare in its entirety. But, in my defense I read it annually with my English 9 students so it should count that I’ve read this selection no less than ten times.

Hamlet reflected the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet in many ways.

Both tales are drowned in the macabre. Both protagonists meet their deaths on the final pages. Both have conflicts of honor, love, dowry, and wealth.

Hamlet is the young son of a king whose death is still mourned on the opening pages. When the ghost of his kingly father begins to haunt the soldiers of Denmark, the young prince seeks out the will of the apparition and in doing so learns that the country has been deceived as to his father’s cause of death. The rest of the tragedy is Hamlet seeking revenge for his father’s murder which leads him to question the motives of his uncle, the new King Claudius. Talk about family dysfunction–when the play opens, King Claudius has recently married Hamlet’s mother making him also Hamlet’s step-father.

When you approach Shakespeare you know that there are certain things that come with the territory–poetic language, allusions, ironic conflict, and dark humor. Hamlet delivered on all of these expectations and then some.

As a teacher, I know that many of my students struggle with our study of Shakespeare. Over the past several years I have given the option to students to use audio versions of Romeo and Juliet. Curious to the benefits of such reading I decided to give it a try with this first read of Hamlet. I found that the Audible version (pictured above) of Hamlet was enticing. This rendition was a recorded dramatization and so hearing the effects and emotion in the parts really did aide in my understanding. I highly recommend listening while also following along with the text.

This reading was a great reminder for me to return to the classics every now and again. Check out my Goodreads account if you want to see what’s up next in my reading. I am aiming for 24 books this year. What about you!?!

The Ameri Brit Mom

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Jamboard: Teacher Tuesday

There are a lot of great things happening in the classroom now that we are back to full capacity. One of my aims on here is to give more glimpse into the creative efforts I am putting into my courses. I’ve kept myself sane during pandemic teaching by enjoying the process of CHANGE. I’m trying to embrace the lasting changes that the pandemic has brought to education.

Many of you don’t come to these pages looking for teaching inspiration so I will keep it brief, but every so often I would like to highlight some things I’m utilizing in my classroom.

Here’s a look at a new tool: Jamboard (a Google add-on)

For this collaborative tool, students get a virtual sticky note and write their name on it. From there, they drag and drop the sticky in the correct category. It is a great tool for formative assessment and small group data collection. It is also a live document so I had it projected on the screen in the front the room and they could watch one another respond. In using this tool for assessment students could anonymously add sticky notes.

I got the theme for this Jamboard (as well as many more) from Ashley Bible. It was a $3.00 download on TpT, but so worth it!

The Ameri Brit Mom