Can Out-of-Towners Become Regulars?

Some might say that my family and I are creatures of habit. I don’t know why….every Wednesday we order dinner from La Catrina (and most weeks the bag includes 2 chimichangas, a cheese quesadilla and an order of carnitas); every Thursday is raid-the-bakery-at-Russell’s day (although this may or may not happen now on any day that they are open, cuz it’s all so good!); Friday night is pizza-and-a-movie-or whatever-is-new-on-steaming night; and we’ve been to Disney World as a family close to 15 times. Some would say my family are creatures of habit. I think I’d just call it “searching for regular status.” Or maybe “people who wish to be regulars.” You know, like when you’ve been somewhere so many times they know what you want before get there to order it. Or like at Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

I’m sure that I’ve given some thought to the “why” of the whole thing tons of times; I am by nature a reflective person and probably ask “why” about far too many things.

One of the conclusions I’ve come to is that some of my fondness for familiar things comes from having so much change and uncertainty as a child. Without getting much into the details, we moved a lot and I went to several different schools, which made making solid friendships tricky. I often longed for the things I saw on TV (and then eventually in families around me)—big families, living in the same house you were born in, returning to the same beach for vacation with your cousins year after year. Don’t get me wrong (especially if you’re reading this, mom 😊)—I don’t have bad memories from my childhood, I just didn’t really form any memories. Or at least not the Hallmark-movie kind I had always wished for.

So as I got married, moved into adulthood and became a mom—and therefore in more control of my life—I made a decision to do some things differently.

Back to my question up there at the beginning….it seems that one of the major ways the whole “searching for regular status” manifests itself (besides that long list of dinner choices I mentioned before!) is in the way we vacation. I already mentioned our penchant for visiting Disney World; my oldest kiddo is 14 and has been there 11 times. When answering the questions of why we return over and over, it’s hard to nail down exactly one thing. I guess I could sum it up by saying it feels like home away from home (or insert the other oft-given answer of “Disney magic” 🥰). We know the way to get to all the things, we have our favorites, we know which parks to visit and when (and what restaurants to eat at when we get there)—there’s no map reading, wandering around with confused looks on our faces, no uncertainty about what to do or when or why to do it.

We do the same thing with our visits to the beach: same hotel/condo, same part of town, same ice cream shops same general daily routine. We know our favorite restaurants but are willing to branch out to new ones each time to add to the list.

Which brings us to now. As I write this, I’m standing in a longish, Sunday morning line for a yummy San Francisco breakfast spot. The restaurant is new, but the street I’m standing on is one we’ve walked over and over. It’s next to a park in which we’ve eaten dinner and dessert and smiled at all the cute dogs and babies. It’s on the way to Chinatown, to the bakery we’ve visited four times (and is on the list for today!), and is on the way to many of the other neighborhoods and hidden places we’ve been discovering for the last week. Since we’ve walked it over and over we know where many things are, which direction to head when we leave the hotel, and also what to expect up around the corner. We are by no means experts (of course 😉) after 8 days, but we’re familiar.

And so to answer my own question, I’m not sure out-of-towners can become regulars, but they can become familiar enough with a place that it feels like home, calling them back from wherever they may roam in the meantime. And that’s good enough for me.

Things Teachers Do in the Summer: TRAVEL

In addition to finding tons of great, new books to share with my new class, I also had some fabulous opportunities to travel with my family!

Ok, I’ll give you one guess as to where we went.  Alright, you can have two or three guesses if you need them, but if you know me at all, or if you’ve spent any length of time here on this blog you already know the answer.:

This IS indeed, the Happiest Place on Earth!

This IS indeed, the Happiest Place on Earth!

We spent the first 10 days after school was out in our favorite place, which is the week we typically go because it’s not too hot yet, and the crowds aren’t as crazy as later on in the summer.  This year’s weather was a little weird, though, because Tropical Storm Andrea decided to come for a visit at the same time as we did.  It was rainier than normal (not the usual 3 o’clock shower that is over in 5 minutes) and cloudy most of the time we were there.  But hey–we didn’t let that get us down!  We’ve been to WDW many times, but we always find a way to make new memories.  Two highlights from this trip were the Princess dinner we had at Akershus Royal Banquet hall–in Epcot’s Norway pavilion–for Allie (which we actually went to on Daddy’s birthday–HA!) as well as a Pirate cruise that Riley took with a small group around Crescent Lake near Epcot.

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I was so surprised as how shy she was around the princesses.  Those are pretty much the only two that she would talk to–when the others came around she was buried in my shoulder hiding her face!  She did the same thing for Mickey and the others, too, which just surprised me because of how naturally outgoing she normally is!  Our prince was not at all bothered by all the pretty ladies who came to our table, though, and he took pictures with them instead!

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I don’t really have many good pics of Riley’s cruise, but that’s mostly because I wasn’t there!  He took off in his pirate skipper with the tour guides and 5 or 6 other kiddos in search of Captain Stinkyfeet who had stolen the pirate treasure!  I was so proud at his willingness to do that without us (he’s learning to let go 🙂 ) and he had a SUPER time. It was all he could talk about for days afterward!

The one other highlight of the trip was meeting up with some an old 5th grade friend and his family who happened to be there at the same time as we were:

What fun to run into Keelan, his sisters Macie and Amelia and his parents!  Fun in the Florida sun!

What fun to run into Keelan, his sisters Macie and Amelia and his parents! Fun in the Florida sun! (Doesn’t Riley look like he could be related to all of them?)

Disney is usually our big excursion for the summer, but this summer we finally got around to going somewhere else in the world (which is honestly a BIG DEAL for our family!).  So in July we packed up and headed east to Charlotte, NC to visit some friends who had moved there a few years ago.  We spent a lovely weekend with their family (of which I have NO pictures–I realized this after we were home…) and then headed to Asheville for the next few days.  We were excited to see the mountains, as well as enjoy Asheville’s food scene, which is focused on sustainable, local, fresh ingredients and is right up our alley!

Several days we went driving on the Blue Ridge parkway, which is the scenic route through the Blue Ridge mountains and afforded us some AMAZING views, along with tunnels and roadside overlook points to stop and check out.  We went shopping, ate some fabulous food, and also visited the Western North Carolina Nature Center.  While we’re definitely still lovers of all things Disney, this was a great time for our family and it’s the trip that Riley keeps going back to when he reminisces on his summer fun!


This one cracks me up! Just an example of the cool rocks we drove next to on the road–here we stopped to look at the water running down the walls. Obviously it was more interesting than smiling at me for the picture!

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We also learned that Asheville is home to the highest point east of the Mississippi river–Mount Mitchell.  So fun to trek to the top of it!  Such beautiful views from way up there!

IMAG0854IMAG0882IMAG0872Doesn’t that picture just say it all?  WE HAD FUN!!

What did you do this summer?  What adventures did you go on?  Where did you visit?  Leave a comment and tell me all about it!  Send me a picture, 5th grade friends, and I’ll add it to the blog! 🙂

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 4: Write

Like I said last time, I am a reader and a writer.

That being said, I spent many hours writing this summer.  I won’t leave a lengthy explanation of it here, because you’ll hear a ton more about it once we get into Writer’s Workshop this year.  But I feel like it is important to mention.  I posted a writing challenge earlier this month, and am excited to hear if you decided to take it. I believe that writing is something that everyone can do, and that you can get really good at if you just put in the work necessary to make that happen.

But what, you might ask, do I write?  You’re not an author, Mrs. Bearden, you’re a teacher.

I write mainly for myself right now.  I love the quote “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I’d go mad.”  So I write about anything.  And everything.  I write about what I’m thinking, what has happened to me, what I want to do, what I have done.  I write about my kids, my family, my friends, my hubby, myself.  I write stories, poems and lists.  I ask questions and try to find answers.  I ask questions that don’t have answers.  Sometimes I write things in my notebook that I know I will come back to later, maybe to work on again and create into a longer piece.  Many times I write things that I know I will never come back to, but that are important at the time.

But the most important thing?  I write.  I love it and I hope that you will see that as we work together this year.  And if you don’t love it like me, I hope that you’ll at least give it a chance.  If you already do, then I hope you’re inspired to continue your writing journey and that you are challenged in a new and refreshing way.

Now it’s your turn: What have you written this summer?  Do you have a Writer’s Notebook already?  Did you write a letter to someone?  Did you make a list of something?  Tell us about your writing from this summer by commenting on this post.  Can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to!


What I did on my summer vacation–Part 3: Read

I am a reader and a writer.  So here’s a peek into some of the reading I did this summer.  Some titles were obviously ones we might read together in class, and some were obviously for me!

1. Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LeFleur   (Mark Twain Award nominee 2011-2012)

2. The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

3. The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell (Mark Twain Nominee 2011-2012)

4. Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta  (Mark Twain Nominee 2011-2012)

5. Practical Punctuation by Dan Feigelson

6. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath

7. What to Expect The First Year by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway, B.S.N.

8. Other people’s blogs–I’ve found several really interesting ones that I like.  Most were related to sewing or decorating, but I also have started following many from other teachers who use blogs in their classrooms.  I hope to make our blog useful like the ones I’ve discovered.  I also have several friends who post pictures and stories about their families on their blogs and I like those, too.

Now it’s your turn:  What did you read this summer?  Even if it wasn’t a book, I know you read something!  Share some of your favorites here in the comments section. 🙂

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 2: Crafts

I like to think I am generally a very creative person.  Over the years, the way I’ve used my creativity has changed, but right now it seems to be focused on sewing.  I think it started right after Allie was born, when I made a big stash of baby wipes for us to use at home:

And then I recovered the rocking chair in her room using two receiving blankets:

This summer I got really adventurous, and decided to try things that didn’t just require sewing straight lines.

So I recovered Allie’s car seat:


Made a couple of new bags for Allie’s things:


I tried my hand at dresses for the first time the other day after I found a pattern for making a baby outfit from a shirt I already had.  It was great and so fast, but TWICE I made the top too small for her head to go through.  Talk about being bummed!  So that one has no picture because she can’t wear it….

Right now I’m working on curtains for a friend of mine, and I plan on making some more things for around my house.  It’s really a great feeling to hold something in your hand when you’re done and know that all your hard work and creativity made it happen!

Now it’s your turn: What is a hobby that you spent time on this summer?  Do you draw?  Do you build things? Do you dance?  Add your comments and tell us about it.  I’m excited to hear what you’re into!

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 1: Took a vacation!

So you may already know (and if you don’t, believe me you’ll hear WAY more about it!) that my family are HUGE Disney fans.  Well, really Disney World fans, I guess.  We don’t wear Disney or decorate our house with Winnie the Pooh or anything, but we love spending time at the Happiest Place on Earth.  I mean really, Riley is only 4 and has already been there FIVE TIMES!  So, as usual, we set out on a lovely Saturday morning for the really long drive to Florida.  Oh wait, did I say morning?  Does it count as morning if it’s 1 o’clock?  If so, then it was a lovely morning.  Or a lovely night.  Take your pick.

I cannot possibly tell you all about the whole trip in this blog post–we spent four days on the road, two nights at the beach in Clearwater, and 10 days at Disney World altogether–but I can give you the highlights:

1.  We found out that Allie is not yet a seasoned traveler.  Since she was only 6 months old at the time, she had never been on a vacation.  She is definitely a girl who appreciates her schedule, so when that was upset for almost two weeks, she was not a happy camper.  So she really didn’t sleep well the whole time we were gone and was crankier than usual.  Some day she’ll learn. 🙂

2. Somewhere around Macon, Georgia, when it was like 150 degrees outside, the air conditioning on our car went out.  And it wasn’t just freon (the stuff they put in there that makes it make cold air), the whole thing imploded on itself and will cost at least $3000 to fix.  Needless to say, we haven’t repaired it yet.

3. We stayed for two nights in Clearwater Beach, at a place that we found out (after we were all checked in) was a party hotel for young people.  So there was a dance party outside our window from about noon til 2 in the morning.  A very loud dance party.  It’s funny how kids can sleep through all that, though.  Oh yeah, and we had to move rooms because the first one was overtaken by a swarm of gnats.

Hanging out at the pool.  Can you see Allie under that silly hat?  She did NOT like to be outside for very long.

4. While we were in Disney World we stayed at one of our favorite hotels and spent oodles and oodles of time in all the parks.  As you get to know me better you’ll hear all about how much I (we) love Epcot and walking around the World Showcase and eating in the amazing restaurants there.  Did I mention we like to eat?  Some of my very favorite restaurants are in WDW.  We had an AMAZING time.

The view out our balcony window.  That’s a big lagoon with a beach and the pool is to the right.

This is the fancy-dancy stroller where Riley and Allie spent alot of time.    Our awesome friends let us borrow it and it worked out so great.   People thought it looked a little like bunk beds.

This is the first time that we had to buy a ticket for Riley (at Disney you’re free if you’re under 3).  He was very excited to get to put his ticket into the machine and walk through the turnstile by himself.  🙂

5.  I lost my wallet.  Not once, but twice.  But here’s how magical Disney is: I got it back both times and everything was still in it.  I’m not sure that would have even been possible at home, much less in a place as huge and crowded as the Magic Kingdom.  But it happened.  I was really relieved about that.  Both times. 🙂

Don’t be fooled by that cute, smiling face.  That baby and that red wallet pouch added much stress and excitement to our trip!

6. We got a phone call one morning from my father-in-law telling us that we needed to call him as soon as possible.  He told us all about how one of the upstairs toilets had overflowed and run down into the basement ceiling.  Then it broke open and spilled gallons and gallons of water all over the floor and ruined a section of the ceiling down there.   Luckily they found it and stopped the water problem and cleaned up the mess before we got home.  But there’s still a hole in my basement ceiling.

7. Riley turned 4 on our last day there and he had a super great birthday!  He picked his birthday breakfast and originally had planned to have ice cream.  I was pretty excited about joining him in this, but at the last minute he changed his mind and instead had donuts, goldfish (?) and chocolate milk (this is a big treat because he doesn’t normally get to drink it).  That night we stayed in a hotel with a big pirate ship in the pool, which he totally loved.

After all the fun and excitement that happened while we were in Florida, the trip home seemed boring and pretty normal.  We stayed the night in Atlanta and then drove home the next day, happy to be in our own beds again.
Now it’s your turn:  Did you take a vacation this summer?  Or maybe you had a “stay-cation” and just did fun stuff around town with your family or friends.  Tell us about it.  Add comments to this post and share the highlights!