holmes sweet holmes

sucking marrow and seeking more

Archive for the month “June, 2012”

Leaving on a jet plane.

It’s official. We are actually moving to Egypt (sorry, Grandpa!). I mean, I guess it’s always been official, at least since I signed my contract in February, but we finally have a date of departure, which makes it R E A L. We are leaving on Wednesday, August 15!

Now that it’s official official, it’s time to write lists. First, the list of things I will miss oh-so-much when we leave the land of 10,000 lakes:

  • My mom’s home-cooked meals, infused with love and garlic
  • Finishing crossword puzzles with my dad and discussing literature, history and life
  • Sticky fingers and sloppy kisses from nieces and nephews
  • Grandparents (we’re bringing back the art of writing letters)
  • Green as far as the eye can see
  • Friends who understand and love me, even when (especially when) I’ve entered the dark side ***(quick edit: I nanny for a kid who likes to listen to Top 40, so I now know this is something Kelly Clarkson sings about. Completely unrelated to my dark side.)
  • Target
  • My sweet, sweet students
  • Familiarity: knowing which roads to take or where to find the hummus in the grocery store
  • Bacon (okay, that’s mostly Ben)
  • Babies that belong to our friends, precious peanuts who will transform into toddlers without us
  • Craft beer

These are things I am looking forward to in Cairo:

  • Being pushed outside my comfort zone, into that place where growth happens, both personally and professionally
  • The pyramids of Giza and the Nile River
  • Looking at the world from a different point of view
  • Opportunities for travel: Istanbul, Ethiopia, Petra, Athens and more
  • A mild winter
  • Not driving (though I’m not ready for the crazy traffic or the pollution!)
  • Being immersed in a new culture
  • Mangoes and eggplant and figs, oh my!
  • Forging new relationships with new people
  • Living in one of the oldest cities of the world
  • Museums, underwater cities, libraries
  • Camels (okay, that’s mostly Ben, too)
  • Exploring, observing, absorbing
  • Nearly  half of my day as prep time (this is where that balance thing comes into play)
  • Discovering one of the pieces of me that is hidden in Egypt
  • A school with its own paintball field

Oh, change. That punk that lurks behind corners, who scares you with his perpetual scowl and piercings and black lipstick. The same punk who ends up introducing you to a new band that changes your life. (The metaphor might be a stretch, but the music part is not. Many bands have changed my life.)

I’m ready for my life to be changed. We will miss many a-splendid thing from Minnesota, but Cairo has so much to offer. Huzzah.


**Weird parallel: My cousin Sara, who first showed me that teaching abroad was a possibility, wrote this on her blog. I had already started my lists when she published hers. I love how our lives are mirror images of each other right now. She’s returning state-side, pursuing a life-changing career, just as I am joining the ranks of ex-pats.

The End of an Era

Three years doesn’t seem like a long time, but when I’ve only been teaching for four, it is.  I said goodbye to my SPCS family over a week ago now, but it still hasn’t completely sunk in.

On the last day with kids, my amazing co-workers threw a surprise assembly for me.  “We Are Family” was playing as I walked through the door.  I was given a chair and a box of Kleenex.

My friend and partner-in-crime, Jenny Reiling, started by thanking me for my service to school and showing off a brightly colored binder (assembled by my friend, the talented Amy Hamm) filled with notes of well wishes from staff and students, along with pictures to remind me of this place I love so much.

Notes that I will save forever

Our awesome (foolish?) remake of Sir Mixalot’s “I Like Big Butts” into “I Like Big Books”

Then a few brave souls read their notes to the whole assembly.  That box of Kleenex was SO necessary.  It was getting dusty in the gym.  Goll.

Thank goodness my students were funny too.  My tears were interrupted by belly laughs.  They ended with the 7th grade choir class singing “Lean on Me,” thanking me for all of the times they’ve leaned on me over the last three years.  It was perfect.

I spent my prep time that day pouring over this binder, simultaneously laughing, crying, and surging with love.  I looked at it an additional three times that night.

I can’t choose any favorites, because they all make me feel like the luckiest teacher in the world.  There are amazing pictures of my students, but you’ll need to come see those in person.  Sorry – no student pictures on the blog.  Student words, on the other hand, are perfect!

A few themes exist throughout the binder: 

Remember when I said half of my students intentionally call me “Mom?”  Here’s the proof:


Mamma Holmes

“And I call you Mom, because I love you like a mom.”

“You are the bomb, and my other MOM.”

I decided last summer that I loved owls.  It was no secret to my kids:



My kids make me laugh:

“Look I indented”

Yes it is.

My kids are so sweet and amazing:

“You taught me how to write a letter, how to be a good girl, how to love reading, and how to succeed in life.” Well, I think my job here is done.

This kid is my Mockingjay.

I love that they all support me following my dreams.

**P.S. I selected student writings were I could easily avoid the name, or ones that were easy to read once I took a picture.  There are no favorites. 🙂

**P.P.S. My kids don’t always love me.  They were just feeling sentimental the last couple of weeks of school. 😉


If you ever need a pick me up, all you need to do is tell a group of middle school students that you are moving to another country.  Seriously.  The amount of cards, hugs, shared tears, confessions of love, requests for pictures, and THANK YOUs (from kids, parents and staff) are overwhelming.  Somehow I need to remember all of this when I’m feeling low.  This binder is the best way for me to bid adieu

SPCS, I less than sign three you. 😉

Save the Date!

Our going away party is on Saturday, July 28!  We’re saying goodbye with a potluck party at my parents’ house, anytime after 3:00 pm.  If you need the address, let me know!

Hope to see you there!


Kids Say The Darnedest Things

My last post was fairly emotional, and I have an intensely emotional post brewing (I’m saying more goodbyes, which I always suck at).  So I decided to add a little humor in between. 

My first year teaching, I worked with an awesome team of strong teachers.  I learned more about teaching from them in one year than I did in 4 years of college. At the end of year, my dear friend Sarah gave us all a list of extremely funny quotes that students said throughout the year. 

I wanted to carry on the tradition at my new school, but I never remembered until April, and by then, I couldn’t remember what kids had said.  This year, I was finally successful!  I handed out the list of funnies to my team on Friday, and my abs still hurt from laughing so hard.

I’ve selected a few gems that require very little context of the situation or the kid.  Enjoy!

  • “You know what would make this even better?  Being BUCK NAKED!” – Student while standing in front of a box fan
  • “I really want to touch your necklace right now, but I remember that thing you said about not sexually harassing people.” – Student to a teacher
  • “Ms. R wants to know if you want to go O-U-T-S-I-D-E since you lose your G-Y-M time tomorrow.” – Ms. S.  “Tell her O-K-A-Y.” – Me.  “Wait – you talking in code now?” – A student listening to our conversation
  • “If texting plus facebook equals textbook, can it be considered studying?”
  • “What do the MCAs stand for?  Minnesota Child Abuse?”
  • “You know why I have trust issues?  Raisins in cookies.  I always think they are chocolate chips!”
  • “When I get merried and have a baby it is so beautiful.” – A kid in his letter from his future self
  • Running into class after bringing out recycling: “Ms. Holmes, Ms. Holmes! Let’s play a game!  Let’s play a game called Who Saw Something Epic this morning!  I saw a rooster.”
  • “We need to get an elderly patch for Girl Scouts, so we helped walk Ms. R to her car.”
  • “I like black people food, like fried chicken.” – Student.   “Honey, that sounds racist when you say it that way.” – Teacher.  “What?  I’m not being racist.  I like white people food too, like pasta.” – Student
  • While looking at my wedding picture: “You’re pretty, Ms. Holmes.  I mean, not today, but in this picture.”
  • “Ms. Holmes, are you a vegan? No, of course not, you’re eating M&Ms all the time.”
  • And one of my all time favorites: “Baby C. has a window’s peak.” – Student A.  “No, no, no, it’s a receiving hair line.” – Student B.

Gosh, I love my job.

Dusty Rooms

It has been an emotional week. 

Friday was the last day for the 8th graders, and it was incredibly tough.  My teaching partner-in-crime, Jenny Reiling, cries tears of joy at the drop of a hat, and she always blames it on the dusty rooms.  Well, Friday was insanely dusty for all involved. 

The 8th graders and I created the most awesome photo collage you have ever seen to give her.

All of the students wrote a message to her:

“You are so squirrelly”

“I will never have another teacher like you”

“You are the best”

and other equally joyful-tear inducing messages.  Then I took a picture of them holding their sign, and put them all together in a frame.  As we presented it to her, she and I both lost it.  That was at 8:45 in the morning.  I don’t think I stopped crying until noon.

Tonight, we officially said goodbye to all of these students as they graduated.  It is particularly difficult for me because I have taught most of these students since they were teeny tiny 6th graders, and I’ve watched them transform into young people.  These are some of the hardest goodbyes.

Goll, it’s getting dusty in my dining room too.

So, without getting too emotional: I adore these children.  I admire how hard they work and how resilient they are.  I believe that wonderful things are in store for them.  I can’t wait to see how they change the world.

SPCS class of 2012, you are ready for the challenges that await.  Meet them with your heads held high!  Continue to make me proud.

I leave SPCS for at least two years on Friday.  Soon I will move on to blogging about Egypt and the preparations, but for now I am living in the present, saying goodbye to my school. I’m anticipating many more dusty rooms before the week is over. 

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