Friday Favorites: 4th of July

The 4th of July is easily my favorite holiday! Here’s why:

-It’s in summer (my favorite season)

-It’s all about the BBQ (my favorite kind of food)

-I love all the red, white, blue and American pride

-It’s low-key and low-pressure. We don’t have any Independence Day traditions so every year it is different and every year we can make plans that are best for us (us being my little family of 4) at the time. Some years we are camping with family, some years we have bigger BBQ with friends and sometimes, like this year, we are just having a small little BBQ with just us.

This year the 4th really snuck up on me! June weather hasn’t felt like summer at all so we haven’t gotten in summer mode yet. I’m still waiting for shorts and tank tops. But I’m not about to let Independence Day pass me by without celebrating so here’s how I dressed up the house!

A small quilt my grandma made as a table runner.

A white church birdhouse, flowers and American flags.

My fireplace mantle with touched of red, white and blue.

These red couch pillows come out only for July. (Oh and a Lab. America’s favorite dog.)

I also hosted Bunco at my house this week so I made it 4th of July themed: Red, White and Bunco.

A couple decisions I have to make before July 4th gets here. Should we BBQ hamburgers or steaks? Am I going to introduce the boys to fireworks or continue to pretend like they don’t exist and go to bed?

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Motherhood is…Bragging Rights

Does it or does it not feel like being a good mom in 2018 is doing fun things with your kids and then posting pictures of it all over social media?! It’s fun to see everyone’s pictures and all the neat things they do, it even inspires me to get out of the house with the kids, but it also has put a lot of pressure on us moms. Sometimes I feel like if I’m not always outside playing with my kids or taking them to the park that I’m not being a good enough mom to my kids. And ohhh that just isn’t the case! In fact, it is my belief that the 2018 Mom spends TOO MUCH energy entertaining her kids when kids need to learn how to be bored and creatively entertain themselves.

But motherhood is having the right to brag just a little bit about your tiny humans. We pour our heart and soul into our kids, and while we can only nurture so much (God has His hand in all the nature) we can be proud when they do something great! Because we had a hand in it too. Like hanging out in over-sized t-shirts and rain boots carrying a plastic shotgun and shooting everything in sight. Yup, I will brag about his cuteness. And use as blackmail with future girlfriends. 😉

IBN Qualifier 2018

We spend 4 days in Harrison, Idaho on Lake CDA for the Idaho BASS Nation State Qualifier. Nathan got off work early on Wednesday so we were able to make it to the lake around 4pm and get settled in. The weather was beautiful when we arrived and we were instantly in our happy place.

Nathan got his boat into the water and started getting his fishing rods all ready for his first day of practice fishing for the tournament. While daddy worked in his boat the boys started fishing! They couldn’t wait to get their lines in the water. Within the first 10 minutes of fishing both boys doubled on smallmouth bass.

The weather was all over the place every day and that was kind of a bummer. I am so ready for steady sun and swimsuits. Tank tops and flip flops. But we were dressed in layers bundling up and stripping clothes as the weather changed every hour. We had wind, rain, clouds, sun, thunder, lightening. We had it all. But that didn’t stop us from fishing! There is a dock at our campground that we basically camped out on all day, everyday. Joshua wanted to fish from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed. He even said, “we can eat lunch on the dock so that we don’t have to leave.” He is his father’s son. And he caught all species of fish off that dock. Perch, bluegill, bass–both smallmouth and largemouth, crappie and pumpkin seeds. He even caught a really nice largemouth that gave him quite the fight! Grandpa also caught a really nice largemouth! His personal best. Grady caught a couple fish all on his own and was so proud.

This qualifier was especially fun for me as I got to be in the middle of it all. Nathan and I (and I actually mean I) became the media directors for the Idaho Bass Nation so I manage the website and the Facebook page. Being a part of the board I got to help out with the tournament. Thursday night was the boaters meeting so I got to check all the guys in and then help organize the boat draws. Then Friday and Saturday I got to record weights at the weigh-in. Saturday, after the final weigh-in, I got to total up the weights and record the new 2019 state team. I knew Nathan made the state team before he did! I loved being a part of it and I hope I get to help out again next year. Nathan had some incredible couple of days on the lake. He caught 5 fish over 5 pounds including a 6.26lbs he weighed in on day 2.

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And he did it! He made the 2019 IBN State Team!! We get to go to Western Regionals again next spring. I got really emotional this tournament because it was the first year Nathan fished as a pro instead of a co-angler. He fished against some of the BEST in Idaho! I mean some really, really good fisherman and I can confidently say that Nathan has reached that level of greatness in his bass fishing. He moved up 4 places from day 1 to day 2 and finished 7th overall out of 23 boats making the top 10 and landing him a spot on the team.

Bass fishing has introduced us to some great friends and good people. Keegan is a great guy we met through the club. He was so proud of Nathan that he jumped in to photobomb Nathan’s picture of his 6 pounder.

Saturday night after the weigh-in we could all take a breath. The pressure was off and mission was accomplished. Does that mean we stopped fishing because the tournament was over? Uhm, of course not! We relaxed, had a few beers and fished the rest of the evening.

Sunday morning we got up, cleaned up and headed for home. It’s always bittersweet leaving the lake. Nice to come home but hard to leave. It’s our happy place. But we’ll be back! We are headed back to Harrison in July for the Panhandle Bass Anglers Classic and that is always a FUN tournament! Not as much pressure and just for fun.

Now we are home and hoping for some summer weather!!!

Boy Mom

I am a Boy Mom. And I know there are going to be Girl Moms that read this post and say life with their girls is very similar to mine. That it’s not just boys, it’s just KIDS. And that’s fine. Because the truth is I have no idea what it’s like to raise a girl. But I am experiencing what it’s like to raise boys and Jesus, help me! So here’s my experience living in a house of masculine energy.

My boys are LOUD. So loud. The volume of their talking voice is turned up to an unnecessary notch. And they make these noises. These growl, dinosaur roar noises. All the time. I will say this: I’ve taught kindergarten for 6 years and I’ve maybe seen one girl in all that time make the dinosaur noises compared to the many, many boys that have roaring tendencies. It really is a boy thing. It’s not my favorite.

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My boys don’t like clothes. Joshua especially. They strip down to their underwear as often as they can. And why is it that when you’re only wearing underwear you can run faster, jump higher and ultimately just play more rough?!

Also, NO SHOES. Ever. I have to battle the boys to put their shoes on when they go outside.

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My boys are so competitive. All 3 of them! The one thing about raising brothers is dealing with EVERYTHING being a competition. Who can buckle their seat belt first, who can run the fastest, eat the most, catch the bigger fish, more fish, open the door first, jump the highest, have the bigger piece of candy, have the most of anything, on and on and on. And it usually is an argument.

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Boys don’t come with barbies and babies. I remember when Grandma got Joshua a baby doll and he carried it around by it’s head. Boys have trucks and legos. Baseball bats and fishing poles. Race tracks and Nintendo. Sticks, rocks, bugs and nerf guns.

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My boys have to jump off everything. Run everywhere. Roll and tumble. I see so many girls skip and twirl, but my boys slam and smash. Testosterone.

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Boys are so easy to dress! Pants or shorts and a t-shirt or long sleeved shirt with a pair of tennis shoes. That’s seriously it. I don’t have to worry about matching leggings or hair accessories. All I have to buy is a handful of shirts and pants and they can mix and match and make dozens of outfits. Saves on my wallet and my sanity.

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There is something unique about each relationship. The father/son connection, the mother/daughter friendship, the father/daughter relationship and the most precious mother/son bond. My boys adore their daddy and he can make them laugh harder than anyone else. They think he is the strongest man alive and I’m pretty sure they think he could do anything. But those boys love their mama something fierce. They crawl into my lap every single day. I get cuddles and kisses and an affectionate hand on my cheek. When they are sick there is only one person who can comfort them. I love my mama’s boys.

Brotherhood. The understanding of each other. The protectiveness. The forever friends.

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Life with boys is messy. It’s loud and overwhelming. It’s beautiful. I am blessed with boys.

Weekend Recap • Fishing, Just Me & You

The weekend for the boys and I started on Friday. Grandma and Grandpa came around 11am to pick up the boys and take them to the cabin (their favorite place on earth.) After the boys were gone I helped our good friends, Ryan & Tina, move into their new house. Nathan was working until 3:30pm but when he got off work he came over and helped a bit too. Then we went home to order a pizza and get everything ready for our fishing trip on Lake CDA. Nathan has the Idaho BASS Nation qualifying event coming up so he needed to practice fish and this time I got to go with him!

We got up really early Saturday morning (4am) and headed to the lake. When we got to Harrison the weather was not nice. It was in the 50’s and raining. The forecast looked like the rain was going to slow a bit so we went into The Lakeside and had a coffee while watching the rain from inside.

We enjoyed people watching and had a few laughs. Finally Nathan couldn’t stand just looking at the water anymore so we put our rain gear on and went out anyway. It rained pretty hard on us at first but after about an hour the rain stopped.

We fished all day. Nathan did the catching. I caught one little one. 5:30pm we decided to pull off the water. We checked into our hotel room there in Harrison and then walked back down to the Lakeside Bar & Grill for dinner. After dinner we grabbed a few beers and sat on our private deck outside our room.

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The view from our deck was pretty awesome! This is the same hotel Nathan and I spent our honeymoon so it was a nice to get back here again just the two of us.

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Sunday morning we got up and had breakfast at another delicious restaurant in Harrison (small town stores and restaurants are the best, aren’t they?) then we headed for home to our boys. I went and saw my dad for Father’s day and we had Nathan’s dad and mom over for dinner. I think Nathan enjoyed his day.

It was a great weekend and I am so excited to head back to the lake on Wednesday for 4 days. This time the whole family is coming with us!

Weekend Recap * Rain, Wind Go Away

It was a very uneventful, but relaxing, weekend. Friday was our first official day of summer break and it was spent running errands and a happy meal for the boys for lunch. We grilled brawts for dinner and just hung out Friday night as a fam.

Saturday was a LAZY day! Nathan went salmon fishing in the morning until around 9am and got home just in time to miss the rain. Once it started raining Saturday it never really quit for long so we watched movies, cuddled in blankets and I started reading some of my new reading curriculum for 2nd grade. I also did a lot of scrolling through Pinterest for ideas for my new classroom.

Our good friend Ryan went fishing with Nathan that morning so since he was part of the catch we had him Ryan and Tina over for dinner Saturday to eat fresh salmon. Mmm it was delicious!

Sunday morning Nathan and Ryan went back out and caught another salmon. And it was another easy day. I got some grocery shopping done and a little cleaning. We watched another movie and just hung out.

Weekends like this are very restorative. Tomorrow Nathan doesn’t have to go into work until 10am so we will have a slow morning together as a family. This week the boys and I will start our summer vacation schedule at home and I am looking forward to it. Next weekend Nathan and I have a husband and wife get away to Lake CDA for a full day of bass fishing and staying in our little Harrison, Idaho just the 2 of us. We can’t wait!!

Last Day of Kindergarten

Yesterday was the last day of kindergarten. For both Joshua and I. But first let’s start with the FIRST day of kindergarten.

Joshua didn’t earn Superbee the FIRST day of school but he did about 2 weeks later. He earned Panther Cub Club and Superbee on the same day. Boy was he excited. Such a good student this boy was.

Joshua didn’t like to get in trouble at school but sometimes the boy in him just couldn’t be held in any longer and he’d have to sit in time out for being too talkative or silly. And that’s okay. Part of learning. He wasn’t punching other kids or yelling at his teacher so I’d say he’s a good egg.

Joshua gained a lot of confidence in his abilities this year and started putting a lot more effort into his work. He definitely doesn’t like when things are hard and tends to give up a lot quicker than his dad approves of but Joshua learns quickly and when he feels like he’s getting better at something he’s all in to do his best. I definitely saw this in his writing this year.

Joshua made a shift from Mario everything to Minecraft this year. He really got into the Lego sets and can build a whole set designed for a 10 year old in about 30 minutes.

Joshua made quite the connection with a girl named Marlee in his class this year. Marlee likes to be silly and Joshua LOVES to laugh. Marlee makes him laugh and for that he loves her. He played with lots of other kids too (at this age kinders tend to play with different friends each day) but I heard him talk about Marlee the most. She’s a sweet girl and will be missed next year at his new school. Luckily I am friends with her mom so the kids will still get play dates.

I think the one thing I loved seeing the most in Joshua this year is his kind heart. He was helpful to many of his classmates. One day when I walked into his classroom I saw Joshua at the sink with Dusty. Dusty was washing his hands so Joshua grabbed some paper towels for him and said, “Here Dusty” as he handed Dusty the towels to dry his hands. Small gestures but it means Joshua was thinking of someone other than himself which is BIG.

Joshua ADORED his teacher, Mrs. Lathrop, and I think it’s because she spoiled him. She loved to hear all his stories in the mornings and Joshua loves a person who will listen to his tall tales.

I can’t really believe we are here. To first grade. I was just writing about Joshua the baby a few days ago. Or Joshua the toddler who made me want to pull my hair out. Now he’s a boy. Gah time slow down.

Well, like I said, it was my last day in kindergarten too. I am onto 2nd grade at a new school next year. Bittersweet for sure. Yesterday was a HARD day saying goodbye to my Asotin family. I shed so many tears saying goodbye to students, parents and staff. My principal, Wes Nicholas, has been such a great leader and friend to work for. I will miss him big. And my teaching partner, well, we didn’t have a last day selfie because it isn’t our last day together. Jenna is my best friend and I think we will be even closer that we aren’t co-teachers because we will only have the best friend role to focus on. We already have it planned out to get together the first Monday of each month. And we Snap Chat each other everyday. We’ll be fine.

So onto the next adventure for Joshua and I. Lewiston School District here we come!! Grady will also be starting his first year of school next year at Wonder World 3’s preschool. So it will be a big school year for all of us next year and we couldn’t be more excited.

But until then…HELLO Summer Break!!!!

Weekend Recap • Fishing, Fishing, Fishing

It was our favorite kind of weekend. Full of bass fishing with the family. Nathan and Ryan fished the Strike King Open with the Panhandle Bass Anglers club. We stayed in our favorite little town on the lake, Harrison, Idaho. Grandma and Grandpa came with us and Tina drove up Saturday to spend the day with us. Friday night when we got there the sunset was gorgeous. This is our view from our camp. Doesn’t really get much better. The boys weren’t ready for bed at all but I knew we had a big day Saturday so they settled down with a movie in the camper before bed.

And Saturday morning, right after breakfast, we were fishing! The boys just couldn’t wait to get their lines in the water. And not even 10 minutes later we heard Grady say, “There’s something pulling on my line!” We looked and said “It’s a fish reel reel Grady!” And he caught a NICE bluegill! First of many catches of the day.

Once the sun hit the water the fish really pulled up to feel the sunshine and the bite turned on. Joshua started catching fish every couple of casts. He caught every species in that marina I think.

A bluegill.

A smallmouth.

A perch.

Another bluegill.

A largemouth.

A pumpkin seed.

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Then the boys checked out another dock and sight fished along the way.

There was a smallmouth on its bed right up on the bank. Ryan had spotted it that morning before blast-off and told me the boys should try to catch it so I told Joshua that and of course it was like CHALLENGE ACCEPTED. He casted and casted at that fish determined to get it. I was in the camper when I heard, “I GOT HIM! RYAN IS GOING TO BE SO HAPPY!” Boy was Joshua excited!!

Did the boys stop to eat lunch? Nope! They just kept fishing and fishing. And they kept catching.

Finally, it was time for weigh-in and the boys had to take a break to see how daddy and Ryan did. They don’t mind though because they know that weigh-in equals icecream cones! Grandma always buys them icecream from the Gateway General Store while we watch the bass weighed in.

Nathan and Ryan did pretty well. They weighed in 11.7lbs and 6th place (the last payout spot) was 15lbs. We aren’t exactly sure where they fell but we are hoping near the top 10. There were 48 boats so I’d say they did well!!

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After the weigh-in it was back to the dock for more fishing! My boys never stop. There was another bed fish Joshua had been working at all day long. In fact Tina, Grandpa and Nathan all tried to catch it and no one could get it to bite…until Joshua did! The patience and persistence of this boy really impressed me this weekend. He is turning into quite the fisherman.

Sunday morning came and we did NOT want to go home. It was a beautiful morning and Harrison was quiet. Sandy and I got a coffee from the Lakeside and I could have just relaxed by the lake fishing and soaking up the sun for another day. *sigh* We instead loaded up and headed for home.

(The dock we fished on alllll day and the boys caught and caught.)

Oh beautiful Lake CDA!

The boys were exhausted and slept most of the way home.

The best weekend. We are headed back in a couple of weeks for the IBN State Qualifier. We can’t wait to get back up there.

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites…all my favorite things from the week! I’m backing up a little bit to last Saturday with this one, but getting to go to the fire station in downtown Lewiston was a big favorite for Joshua and I. Our good friend Kyle is a first response EMT and asked us down to the station. Joshua got to explore the fire engines and the ambulance. He even got to help with some of the checks on the big engine.

On Sunday Grady and Nathan got home after being gone for 9 days! Oh this is my favorite moment from the week! I missed them soooo much. Grady ran out of the pickup and jumped into my arms then he ran over to his brother and wrapped his arms around Joshua. Joshua said, “I missed you Grady.” and Grady replied, “I missed you too, brother cuz brother I love you.” Awe this mama heart was full. Then they played and played together in the mini pool.

Joshua graduated Kindergarten this week! Our end of the year kindergarten program is always a favorite. The kids did SO good and I was super proud of them. HOW is Joshua almost a first grader?!

And tonight after school we head to my FAVORITE little town on lake. We will leave for Harrison, Idaho on Lake Couer d’ Alene after school today for a weekend of bass fishing. Nathan and Ryan are fishing the Strike King Open. The weather is supposed to be beautiful and I can’t wait to just relax and enjoy my family.

It’s been a busy week with kindergarten graduation, report cards and all things end of the school year. But we are down to 4.5 more days and then we are officially on summer break. I can’t wait!!

My Best Friend

The first time I heard of Jenna Lathrop was when she applied to the Asotin School District. My school was hiring a preschool teacher at the time and as the kindergarten teacher I was on the hiring committee. Everyone on the committee kept talking about Jenna and I’d get kind of snarky and say, “Who is Jenna?” and they’d all respond, “Jenna Brott!” like that was supposed to clear all questions in my head. You see Asotin is a tiny little community so everyone knows grandpa Joe’s cousins’ sister who’s been twice removed but married the preacher’s son so she was accepted back into the church. You get my point. Anyway, Jenna graduated from Asotin and her mother is one of the administrative assistants in the high school. So everyone knew who Jenna Brott (Lathrop) was, except this Lewiston gal. To explain my snarkiness just a bit more my good friend, who I went through the teacher education program with at LCSC, was also trying to get a job in Asotin so she had applied for the preschool job. Obviously I was pulling for my friend.

So the day of the interviews came and Jenna was the last one we interviewed. The minute she walked into the room I understood what all the fuss was about. Jenna was cool and confident with a huge smile and a contagious laugh. She was charming, sweet, sincere and I instantly adored her. She radiated preschool teacher and it was a unanimous decision.

So the next year I worked with Jenna fairly closely as the preschool was the feeder program into my half-day kindergarten program. She had so many good ideas and was great for advice when I needed help with a difficult student or even a good teacher hack. Jenna’s positive attitude just drew me to her and she was so easy to talk to that I found myself wondering down to her classroom more and more.

Then my grandma passed away. I was heartbroken. One morning, sometime after, I came to school and Jenna had a gift for me. It was a rustic decor sign that said “FAMILY” with a bright red letter “L” tied to it (my grandma’s name was Linda.) My eyes filled with tears. I couldn’t believe her thoughtfulness and kindness. I think it was then that I began to see Jenna more than just a colleague I enjoyed working with, she was my friend.

As fate would have it Asotin Elementary transitioned to full day kindergarten, adding a second section and blessing me with a teaching partner. Jenna moved right into kindergarten with me and the beginning of a beautiful partnership began.

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Throughout the last 3 years team teaching together Jenna and I have become best friends. She is one of the most cherished people in my life. God knew I needed her in my life. A bond with another female that was very much like me is one big thing my life was lacking. We are so much alike that we’ve even been accused of being twins and some days that is more true than others.

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She is a true gem. Here are 10 reasons why Jenna Lathrop is my best friend, and always will be.

One. She is fun.

Jenna has this energy about her and you can’t help but laugh a lot when you’re around her. But she is also so fun! She’s always coming up with ideas for the classroom to make it more fun and she comes up with creative ways to be a fun mom for her own kids, too. For Halloween we dressed up as Koo Koo Kangaroo because we knew that it’d be bring FUN to our classrooms!

Two. She has a huge heart.

Jenna loves with so much of her heart that it spills over out of her eyes. I’ve seen her cry because she loves her students so much. She’s cried with me when I’ve had tough stuff going on in my life. Her mama heart has cried for her kids. I think the most caring, genuine people you’ll ever meet are criers.

Three. She’s really pretty.

Call me shallow but I like good looking people! Jenna is a beautiful woman. But to be fair, she’s beautiful on the inside, too. Which is even more important.

Four. Jenna motivates me.

This girl is a goal-setter! She’s organized and driven and I strive to be like her. She sets goals for herself every month. She paints the walls and keeps up a garden. She’s clean and keeps all things organized. (A little type A this one.) She cooks and crafts and nurtures the heck out of her family. But she also takes time for herself and reads and blogs and makes quiet time for Jesus. She’s got it all figured out. I wanna be just like Jenna when I grow up.

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Five. She has strong values.

Jenna and I have a lot of the same values and I think that’s why we are so close. We have so much in common it’s crazy (in fact that’s reason #6 so hang tight for that one.) She values God and family. She values doing the right thing and being honest. She values gratitude and a positive attitude. She values trust and time. She values the small things and it doesn’t take much to make her extremely happy. Jenna and I are on the same page so much when it comes to living a good life.

Six. We have so much in common.

I mentioned this before but I believe with all my heart that God knew we needed each other. Women need other women in their lives that are like them. We are so much alike! We both are passionate about teaching. We both have 2 kids that are about 3 years apart and in grade school. We both have country boy husbands. We are both homebodies. We both grew up in small towns. We have similar family dynamics. We have many of the same struggles and joys and simple pleasures. We are both nerds. Gosh, I could go on and on.

Seven. She is thoughtful.

Jenna is always thinking of others. She gives really good gifts because she puts thought into them. She does small things for other people just to cheer them up or make their day a little brighter.

Eight. Jenna is an incredible teacher.

I’m not exaggerating. She is one of the best teachers I know. She puts her heart into it. She cares for EVERY kid in her classroom. She just pours herself into those kids. She keeps their learning at the forefront and finds little opportunities to enhance their understandings all of the time. She sings and dances and makes learning fun. She holds students accountable in a caring way. She puts a purpose to every minute of student time. I get so many great ideas from her. She inspires me and makes me a better teacher.

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Nine. She is uplifting.

The little saying, “Look on the bright side”…Jenna is the bright side! She’s human and has bad days just like me or anyone else but she strives to find the positive in every situation. Her grateful heart finds perspective when life is being…life. I can take my worries or stresses to Jenna and she always makes me feel better. She knows the right thing to say and I respect her opinion so much.

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Ten. She’s selfless.

When I told Jenna I needed to leave Asotin, she understood. She never EVER questioned my reasons or asked me to stay. You see I live across the river from the small town we teach in and that river is a state border. State borders come with regulations and my kids can not attend Asotin Elementary unless Nathan and I pay the $6,500 yearly out-of-state tuition. For a public school?? Yikes. So my kids have to be in the Lewiston School District and I need to be near them. And on their schedule. Which means leaving Asotin Elementary. Leaving Jenna. And she’s letting me go. She’s not only letting me, she’s encouraging me and excited for me. Selfless. She just thinks of others. She is always loving on others. I can’t thank her enough.

Jenna, you are my only blog follower so I know you’re reading this. Hear this: we will ALWAYS be best friends. It’s called monthly walks and coffee days, snap chat and play dates with our kids. I know this is really old fashioned but we will even talk on the phone and I don’t mean text. It’s going to be hard not seeing you everyday. Especially when I a calm to my morning anxiety. But the Universe brought us together for a reason and you’re a friend for life. I love you.

Love,
Tara