Memorable Moments of 2017 – In Photos

While I’m pretty excited to leave 2017 behind, I’m grateful for the world I’m creating for myself, my family, and my students. I still believe that together, we can achieve great things – despite what is out of our immediate control, there were so many memorable moments of 2017.

Looking back on the year is definitely bittersweet – there were moments of frustration, fear, change, growth, joy, laughter, friendship and kindness. Above all, there was love. My 2017 mantra was Be Here Now; spending time reflecting on these memorable moments of 2017 reminds me that I did my best, I was present for myself, family, and friends, and I pushed myself to move forward in every aspect of my life. I thank all my readers for helping encourage me along my path and contributing to this one, wild and precious life.

Looking back on memorable moments of 2017:

DECEMBER 2017

memorable moments of 2017
December 2017: At home in Davis, CA with my babies on Christmas Eve, relishing having them on both sides of me and under one roof.
  • mamawolfeto2It’s such an amazing feeling, being surrounded by the most precious people in my world, enjoying life and watching them grow into beautiful, interesting people. I’ll sleep well with both of them under my roof again. #mamawolfe #merrychristmas#lovethem

NOVEMBER 2017

memorable moments of 2017
November 2017: St. Louis, MO on an adventure finding my great-grandmother’s house
  • mamawolfeto2All I had was an address, but today I visited the St. Louis house owned by my great- grandparents, where my grandmother grew up and met my grandfather. So grateful this piece of history is still standing, full of memories and stories. Sometimes things just fall into place… #thankyouuniverse #spiritstrong#stlouishomes

OCTOBER 2017

memorable moments of 2017
October 2017: At the CUE Conference in Napa, CA, making fast friends with Sarah Landis, a #hyperdoc girl!
memorable moments of 2017
October 2017: In Napa, CA, at the CUE Conference, making friends with a #hyperdoc girl, Kelly Hilton!

SEPTEMBER 2017

memorable moments of 2017
September 2017: In Sacramento, CA on the set of Studio 40 News, stepping WAY out of my comfort zone by doing a live cooking demo!

AUGUST 2017

memorable moments of 2017
August 2017: At Emerson Jr. High, decorating the door to my classroom in anticipation of a big year of growth mindset.

JULY 2017

memorable moments of 2017
July 2017: In Nicaragua with my son for the third time, filling our hearts and helping restore schools and education to this beloved country.

JUNE 2017

memorable moments of 2017
June 2017: In Salt Lake City with my sweet daughter, adding spoon bracelets to our collection and keeping the connection alive.

MAY 2017

memorable moments of 2017
May 2017: In San Diego, CA for a STEM conference.

APRIL 2017

memorable moments of 2017
April 2017: Skiing with the family (plus a special guy) at Homewood, CA on a beautiful bluebird day.

MARCH 2017

memorable moments of 2017
March 2017: At Babson College in Wellesley, MA, on the only college tour my boy needed – accepted early decision in December!

FEBRUARY 2017

memorable moments of 2017
February 2017: On a rainy day college field trip with my AVID 9 students and the best counselor an AVID teacher could ever ask for!

JANUARY 2017

memorable moments of 2017
January 2017: In Sacramento, CA at the Women’s March, showing our #persistence and using our voices.

Wishing all of you a happy, healthy and memorable 2018 – I’m ready to #embracechange and see what adventures the Universe has planned for me! I sure hope we can continue to connect here and on social media – please follow mamawolfe on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share our adventures!

So tell me what are you ready for in 2018?

p.s. – I ended 2016 by sharing my favorite moments from my Instagram account, too! You can check out that post here.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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When Your Child Leaves For College

What To Say When Your Child Leaves For College

Three years ago, on this day in 2014, I was wondering what to say when I dropped my daughter off at college. It should have been simple, right? I write voraciously. I’m an educator. I’ve hundreds of kids leave the comfort of home and be absolutely fine. I’ve had good friends to mentor me through what to expect, just like during pregnancy. When your child leaves for college was most certainly a topic on the tip of my consciousness.

But on that day, when it was my 18-year-old baby girl launching off to another state, I was stuck.

I drafted and erased and revised and published getting ready for graduation essays, college tour recaps and leaving home for spending the summers at Mt. Hood. I’d survived a year with my 8th-grade son unexpectedly moving to the mountains to train for the Junior Olympics, yet I was a wreck figuring out how to handle his accident 10 days before her college move in day, a flooded kitchen and my own over-the-top anxiety. This definitely was not going according to plan.

When Your Child Leaves For College

And on this day, three years later, Facebook reminds me of our beautiful, bittersweet drive across the Utah Salt Flats, 10 hours of me and you and wondering how I would manage to say everything that I wanted/needed/should say in the next 24 hours.

I’m a Gen X parent. I grew up with a kind of free-range parenting, knowing I should be home before dark and feeling invincible. We hadn’t heard of HIV, or date-rape, or helicopter parenting. And here I am, the first generation of parents raising the i-kid, happily doling out dollars for the tech that would keep me connected – a part of my baby’s world 650 miles away.

Now I needed to figure out how to employ a kind of ‘stealth-parenting’ – finding the walk to back up my talk, if I could even figure out what that ‘talk’ was. After listening to her college president speak at the convocation, I scribbled out a letter to my college bound daughter. It’s been my most viewed post of all time – I guess I’m not alone in wondering what to say when your child leaves for college after all.

When Your Child Leaves For College

When Your Child Leaves For College

Two years ago – on this day – I became a shuttle driver, watching both my babies paddle out into a Utah river, scramble up a waterfall, and leaving me alone in a hotel room as they chose a campsite over room service. Thank you, Facebook, for reminding me that she could survive her first year of college, and so could I. Nervously relaxing in that hotel room, I struggled with my monkey-mind – what do I say when your child leaves for college the second time? What words does she need to hear – or do I? No longer was I dishing out advice about dorm rooms and ‘firsts’ – suddenly, adulting was more real than ever. My cyber-stealthing had helped somewhat; Instagram and Snapchat offered glimpses into the life I was sure she didn’t really want me to know much about, yet I was desperate to see.

The second year she was on her own, shopping at Costco and stocking up her apartment. She was cooking meals and going to classes and occasionally sharing a bit with me. Driving back, watching the sun rise over her city, the tears came. This time felt different, lonely, hopeful. I comforted myself by writing a letter to parents leaving their kids at college and didn’t look back-most of the time.

When Your Child Leaves For College

One year ago, summer started with her first study abroad, words only shared through sparse wifi connections along the Camino de Santiago. Adventuring is in her blood, and for the first time, I sank into the trust that things will be well, that she will be well, that I will be well. The power of prayer and hope and the knowledge that she would have to figure things out without my advice allowed for us to grow – mostly, for me, I admit. I couldn’t wait to see her, to hug her and note the changes that exploration had inked into her spirit. The third year leaving her at college was more about my transformation into wholeness; I was turning 50 and felt the crack widening. I learned to look at life as it is, to embrace change and hopefully anticipate the changes of motherhood in front of me.

When Your Child Leaves For College

This year I didn’t have to worry about what to say as I dropped her off because it didn’t actually happen. She’s officially adulting now, and never really came home. I traded my tech for travel and bought a ticket to visit her instead. I spent seven glorious days immersing myself in her life, discovering her city and the places she likes to buy her coffee and have special dinners out. I met her friends and bought her wine. We adulted together, no words needed, and then she dropped me off at the airport with a hug and a smile and a glint of a tear in her eye.

Now, her fourth year, I realize this: it’s not the words you say when you’re leaving your child at college, it’s the words you say when you’re not there. It’s how you find a way to be that safe place to fall back to, the warm demander from a distance. It’s the words you say when they fight with their roommate or fall in-or out-of love. It’s the words when you wish you were there to wrap yourself around her, to hold her close and smell the coconut shampoo in her hair and help her through.

It turns out, leaving her at college isn’t the hardest part; having her not come home is worse. This year, leaving her at college is more about leaving her childhood and welcoming her adulthood.

These are my words to help me through this one. Feel free to let me know if you have any advice.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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From Facebook to Snapchat to Instagram Stories, or Other Ways My Kids Make Me Feel My Age

“Mrs. Wolfe, you have a Snapchat?” my 9th-grade student sputtered. It was after school, and I naively left my phone front and center on my desk. Yes, indeed, baby Wolfe had chatted her middle-aged mother, and the world now knows.

“Yep,” I smiled as I clicked off the screen. “How else would I know what my kids are doing?”

“That’s awesome!” he exclaimed as if no one my age EVER would know what Snapchat was, let alone how to use it.

Snapchat

The truth is, I strongly dislike Snapchat. I don’t dig the fact that I have seven- plus seconds to read and scan a photo. I dislike when my volume is off and I miss the audio on the video she sends. And I really abhor that I can’t go back and review the images over and over – I want to know what my girl is doing, where she, what her life looks like. She doesn’t live here anymore, and I’ll grab any glimpse I can.

So why Snapchat?

Because that’s what millenials/teenagers/anyoneunder30something use. And if I want to be in the know, I’d better know how to Snap.

Ugh.

Just a few years ago I wrote about my then 13-year-old son jumping online with Facebook. At the time, I was a combination of shocked/curious/dismayed at the idea of his jumping into social media. The ‘pros’ were obvious; social media offers a glimpse into the world away from parents where kids can show other sides of their personalities. He coaxed it would allow him to be tagged when he/we travel, and how much more connected we would be.

Snapchat

Facebook lasted all of a few months for him. Now 17, he tells me he does a monthly check in to see if he’s been tagged. No connection there. Facebook is for old people.

For awhile both kids posted on Instagram – mostly after-the-fact images of their adventures, seemingly innocuous sunsets and sunrises over the mountains, or goofy poses with their friends. Bu these days, ‘grams’ are few and fleeting, and while I love the peek into their worlds, the succinct shots of life don’t have the same impact as good ‘ole Facebook.

Maybe that’s why Snapchat is so problematic for me. It enhances the fleetingness of the millennial lifestyle while at the same time reminding me that I cannot swipe or click fast enough to capture a memory for review. Despite my establishing the perfect condition to carefully open the snap, fingers poised perfectly to screenshot, I undoubtedly mess up, ending with a disappointing shot of the carpet. Not to mention the inability to magnify the image to satisfy my failing eyesight.

Snapchat is an exercise in frustration at best.

And now, just in the nick of time, we have Snapchat’s ‘world lenses’, plying old moms like me with easier replay and overlays that really do emphasize the generation gap. Every time I see someone wearing kitty whiskers or pursed lips and a helium voice it really makes me wonder about the future of the next generation – to have all that time on your hands and spend it augmenting your undeniably ordinary existence is hard to digest.

Someone, stop this Snapchat nonsense.

Instagram to the rescue.

Snapchat

As if the angels heard my plea, Instagram Stories has dumped into my phone glimpses into my children’s semi-adult lives that actually allow me to soak in the moment – I can see my girl on the mountaintop, hear the wind blowing against her phone and the crunch of the snow below her ski boots. And just when I start to hyperventilate that she’s on top of a mountain that she just hiked up to see the sunrise, Stories segues into the next video montage, showing her safely at the bottom of the hill.

Thank you, Instagram, for figuring out how to overtake Snapchat and settle my stressed out mind. Now I can hit ‘replay’ over and over and over, soaking in the details and sharing with grandma and grandpa without feeling like my screenshot game is minor-league. And since all things come back in style, if I just wait long enough, maybe by the time my kids have kids of their own Facebook will be trendy again, and I can take all the time I want replaying and sharing photos of my bound-to-be-adorable grandchildren to all my old lady friends.

See ya, Snapchat. Can’t say I’ll miss you one bit.

If you’d like to be my old lady friend on Facebook or Instagram, you can find me sharing stories, snaps, books and beauty there on a regular basis. Snapchat? Not so much.

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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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3 Awesome Reasons To Have A Selfie Free Summer

It was a perfect blue sky day. We hit the road early (by teenage terms), and just about 90 minutes later found us in Pt. Reyes, California, ready for adventure.

It had taken some cajoling to get both of them to agree to go hiking with me; these days, getting both kids alone, together, is certainly cause for celebration in itself. It’s one of the things I miss most about them growing up, actually. The time I took for granted when they were little, time to just be together and hold their hands and explore somewhere new – all that isn’t as easily had as before.

Sunscreen applied, water bottles and snacks in our packs, we headed down the trail towards the coast. Everywhere we looked vibrant wildflowers dotted our view, and lush ferns and berry bushes obscured each side of our narrow trail. The hawks flew overhead, and the sounds of songbirds filled the air. It truly couldn’t have been more beautiful.

wild sweet pea flowersStopping to smell the wild sweet peas and snap a few photos, I found myself alone on the trail, lagging far behind my lanky-legged teenagers. Quickening my pace, I caught up just enough to catch a glimpse of them from behind. I’ve always loved the photos of them like this, when they’re not expecting me and in that instant, I imagine all the life they have before them.teens from behindI’m sure even the hawks could see the joy etched in my face on this glorious day; glimpsing over their shoulders I could just catch the shimmer of the Pacific Ocean in the distance. “Turn around, let me take your picture,” I quickly called, worried they would be gone before I caught up. Surprisingly, they obliged, and as I got closer I added,”Let’s take a selfie.”

I’m sure the hawks could hear their groans of disgust, too.

“No Mom – no selfies,” their voices replied in unison as they took off along the trail without me.

What? No selfie? How would we ever remember we were there together? How would they look back on this day and remember I was even there at all? 

I’ve often thought the invention of the selfie is genius – the one way moms are guaranteed to be in the picture! How many moments have I been behind the camera instead of in front of it? What do they mean, no selfie?

Kicking into gear to catch up, I spent the next five minutes being schooled on the three awesome reasons to have a selfie-free summer – according to my teenagers:

1. “Selfies are stupid,” they began. “They’re not as good as pictures someone else takes and everyone knows it was a selfie. Everyone knows you know you took a dozen shots until you got the right one, and that you stood there forever while the phone was angled in just the right position. Haven’t you seen those selfie-sticks, Mom? Those people look so lame waving them over everyone’s head, and then they have to carry them around.”

Hmmm. Good point. How many times have I been looking out at a gorgeous view when someone suddenly jumps in front of me, spends minutes posing, snapping, checking, posing, snapping, checking…

2. “Selfies are for Snapchat, and that’s about it. They’re not meant to be saved…they’re meant to be silly.  How many times have you seen selfies where people look like they’ve spent hours perfecting their pose? Like they’ve spent hours in front of the bathroom mirror perfecting their pout or messing around with the right filters?”

Ok-agreed. As much as I dislike Snapchat (I can’t stand only seeing an image for seven seconds; heck, it takes me that long to find my glasses!), I really dislike the Instagram selfies of people staring into their bathroom mirrors, perfectly made up and serious supermodel looks on their faces.

3. “Selfies make you miss the moment. Just look, Mom. You’re concentrating so hard on getting the right shot, you’ll miss all this.”

I get it. Isn’t that what I preach to them every day? Pay attention to the little things in life. Be present. Be grateful. Look out for the extraordinary in the ordinary. Use your voice – ask someone to help you take a photo instead of staying trapped inside yourself. Look up, breathe, throw your arms open wide and take it all in. This is your moment.

Suitably schooled, I resumed my position at the back of the pack, far enough behind to think. They’re so grown, I thought, and I’ve still got so much to learn. I’m just going to let them lead the way for awhile.

Coast Trail, Point Reyes, CA

selfie free summer-mamawolfe

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Revisiting Gratitude

I have a friend who is going through a really, really tough time right now. When she confided in me, I felt a mix of honor that she trusted me, and obligation to help her through. What came to my mind first? Gratitude.

I know gratitude is all over the news. I myself have written many essays, book reviews, and poetry sharing the virtues of gratitude and how it has helped me ride out the long, hopeless days of mothering, teaching and living.

So I got her a tiny, blue leather journal. I printed out two of my favorite poems, one for the back and one for the front. And I told her to write three ‘gratitudes’ every day. Without fail. Even when she feels like everything is hopeless. Even when she feels like there is no light to run towards. Even when she feels alone.

And I shared with her my #365gratitude posts on Instagram. And yes, I do both. I give daily thanks for the big and the small things in life. Some days, my gratitudes are easy to find. Some days, I really have to dig. But I’ve found that walking with an intention to find gratitude opens my eyes in so many ways, allowing hope to shine in when I most need it.

The great thing about sharing #365gratitude posts on Instagram is the ability to quickly revisit the images whenever I need inspiration – like today. It’s like revisiting a museum full of life moments – a quick scroll shows me what I value in life, what my eye is drawn to, and what makes me happy. I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you today. And if you’re on Instagram, I’d love to connect – you can find me at https://instagram.com/mamawolfeto2/.

Before the August accident…

Breathing through the day…#lookup #collegebeginsnow #westminsterslc

A post shared by Jennifer Wolfe (@mamawolfeto2) on

Keeping my #lookup promise, even when the tears were falling.

Notice a few themes here? All things I love – the sky, the mountains, my kids, my dog, my life. Moments strung together, perfectly ordinary, absolutely extraordinary… a life full of love and gratitude 365 days a year.

Hope to see you over on Instagram!

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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