Sunday, May 28, 2017

How Happiness found us this year!


This has been a year of ups and downs, but I have to admit there have been many more ups this year with our family of 4! Reflecting back on where we were last August as we looked ahead to the coming school year, we never would have guessed that in May we would be thinking about all of the joy and happiness that this year has brought to our family!!

So...if you are interested, read on to see how the Purcellville Rahns have filled the year with (both planned and unexpected) experiences that brought joy to each of us!


     A year ago I left the classroom after 26 years of teaching and took the step to become an Instructional Facilitator for the county. After being told by numerous people that I wouldn't like it, I'd miss the kids and the job wouldn't last...I'm here to say it was one of the best decisions that I ever made.
     By stepping out of my comfort zone and taking this job, I have been able to make some incredible new friends, meet some teachers and administrators that I might never have met, receive training that has impacted my professional life and also my personal life, spend more time with my family, and have time to make some lifestyle changes that I have wanted to for years!!
     It was time....the professional changes are probably one of the biggest "joy-bringers" of the past year. No more lesson plans, no more report cards, no parent phone calls, no sub plans...and still being able to share my passion and excitement for learning and teaching with others around the county. I am back in the elementary school world exploring Math, Social Studies, well as reading, and writing. I have met some incredible teachers at the 6 different schools that I work with and when I need or want to, I am able to pop into classrooms and work with students of all grade levels.
     My new team of 11 incredible individuals has far exceeded any expectations that I had going into this position 9 months ago. The dynamic, like-minded, forward-thinking individuals are just as crazy as I am about education and sharing our passion. My new supervisor is a new friend and also an incredible role-model. She has provided us with training that helps us work with teachers and has changed the way that I interact with my family. This is where I belong now and I am so happy to be here with these people trailblazing for Loudoun County Public Schools!
     Because of this job change, I found more time in my life. With more time, I was able to take the brave step and admit that I needed to exercise and change some of my eating habits. Thanks to Tara (one of my new, wonderful colleagues and a Beach Body coach), I dove into making these lifestyle changes of healthier eating and exercise and have lost 30 pounds since January 1.  I haven't been this happy about this aspect of my life in many, many years!!
     If you're handed lemons, make lemonade! That statement proved true as we had many unexpected renovations and remodeling events take place in our house this year. Though it was a process, and at times incredibly stressful, as we finish out the year, I think our renovations are about finished also and I LOVE our house!!!
     I had some fun adventures that also brought joy! Katie and I traveled to see the Dancing With The Stars tour. I admit that I'm a fan, and was just as excited as she was for this adventure!!  After about 20 years, I finally returned to Virginia Tech and got to share "my former home" with my family! Who knows, maybe Carleigh or Katie will end up there and I'll be back frequently.
     As I look back at all the changes that have happened since August, I have to honestly admit that I am in such a good place and couldn't be happier!!

My new team!

The beginning of our 3 months of unexpected renovations

near the end!! - new flooring, paint, appliances...



     Don is my rock and my best friend. Sometimes, I don't know how he puts up with me and I am forever glad that he does!! He has had lots of expected and unexpected joy this year also.
     We always travel together as a family, and this year Don got to check another state off the list alone as he went to Texas with a group of Trailside teachers to attend the AMLE conference. He had a  blast and created memories that have continued through the year. He also received recognition in the county(and he'll say that he didn't want it) for a very well earned project that he initiated at his school.  He has taken on some different leadership roles at school and is earning admiration from his staff members for his leadership skills, but also bringing his wit and sense of humor into these meetings. He was recently recognized at a staff meeting by another teacher: "this is a teacher that I hope to one day become. I admire this person's leadership and their dedication to students engaged in learning. You are a remarkable teacher and an even better person."
     Don has also embraced the lifestyle changes with me this year and we are both exercising, eating healthy, and enjoying nightly walks around the neighborhood with Junior.
     Don has always been the one to look for happiness and joy in the daily adventures of life. I am forever grateful that I found him and he found me!

The Austin skyline as he traveled to Texas

Dress like your teacher day - now, that's admiration!!

In a happy place, communing with nature
Always finding joy...

Receiving the award for his project

His buddy, Junior!


    The year for Carleigh started off with a bit of a low, and she had to dig deep to find a way to turn it all into joy and happiness. Carleigh is truly one of the happiest people that I know, and I made her! ;) She strives on finding joy in the moment and sharing it with others (much like her father). She may be ridiculed on occasion for being "too happy" or "too positive" and it hasn't stopped her. She powers on and brings joy to those around her, which is why I am so happy that she has received all of the joy this year that she so truly deserves!!
     She started out sharing her love of volleyball with a group of middle school girls as she ventured into her first coaching experience with Loudoun Youth Volleyball. She loved it and is looking forward to doing it again.
     She also embarked on many different leadership roles this year. She helped organize the We're All Human walk at Valley and threw herself into making sure that everyone experienced the joy of this experience. She was inducted into the National Honor Society and has since, been named the Membership Chair for the upcoming year.
     A stepping stone for her this year was identifying who she was, and who she wanted to be surrounded by. Life lessons hit her this year as she realized who were "her people." Carleigh found new friends, distanced herself from some others, rediscovered old friends and developed some very meaningful relationships with teachers in the building that have served as her mentors through the year.  She went to Prom with some of these new friends and has had many adventures! She's looking for happiness and joy and finding the people that can share it with her. I am so proud of her for recognizing this!
     In her quest for happiness and joy, Carleigh also discovered Happiness Economics and has creatively been able to weave this new found passion into three of her classes as final projects..,. AP Psych research essay, AP Lang final TED Talk, AP Econ book study and project. She is spreading happiness everywhere she goes!!!
     Approaching Senior Year has brought many incredible opportunities for here that are sure to bring much joy...She will be the Co-Editor-in-Chief next year of the school newspaper and just recently we found out another big role that she will have next year. Carleigh was nominated by her teachers and administration to be the Student School Board Rep representing Valley. She will sit up at the dais with the LCPS School Board for one month next year and be part of discussions, offer her opinions, and experience what it is like to be a School Board member.
     It's going to be an emotional year ahead as we continue to visit colleges, have Senior Year experiences and march towards graduation, and I know with her Joie de Vivre we will make it through with smiles on our faces!!

Her Vball team that she coached

National Honor Society inductions


Always bringing joy and finding happiness!

the book that ignited her newest passion

description of her Student School Board rep responsibilities
The editorial staff of the newspaper next year


      Katie's year also started with a lot of changes and some lows. To look back, one would never know all she went through this year as she has become a very confident, strong and happy young lady!! Katie entered high school this year ready for a change! She was looking for new opportunities, new friendships, and new experiences and she found them all.
     Katie started attending AET (the Academy of Engineering and Technology) on alternating days and found her passion. She embraced the curriculum of advanced math, advanced science, and computer coding. Though challenging, she never gave up and is looking forward to many more years of these classes!!
    As a new freshman, she wasn't sure who she was or who she was going to become in high school. Because of those feelings, she encountered some stress in the beginning of the year and through lots of self-reflection and personal growth, she has come through it and is now on the road to a great future full of joy and exciting adventures!!
     Katie attended her first homecoming with friends from Valley, while also forming new friendships with kids from AET. She joined the STEM club at Valley and just attended an all-day field trip to Washington D.C. as the only freshman.  That wouldn't have happened in September!!
     A personal highlight for her this year was our adventure to Baltimore and seeing Dancing With the Stars. She is a huge fan and the VIP pre-party was the best part - meeting everyone up close and personal before the show started.
     As the year ends, Katie also has some exciting events to look ahead to. She is a finalist in the K2M Innovation Challenge with her group from AET. They are researching and designing an answer to Scoliosis. As finalists, they will be presenting their research and project to K2M board members, community members and the full student body of AET.
     This new self-confident Katie has also decided that she wants to attend a week-long college level Engineering class at Sweetbriar College in June. She will walk away with college credit and her first experience flying solo - no friends, no family.
      I am so proud of her!!
A Christmas present that says it all!!

new AET friends

Homecoming Fun

If given the opportunity, she will take it apart to see how it works

She got to hug VAL!!!

At K2M for the launch of the Innovation Challenge

It's been a year! And what a great year it has been!! Being educators, our years are defined by the school year - not the calendar year and as this year comes to a close, we have some incredible adventures coming up. You know, Seldom A Dull Moment with the Rahns!!

Our summer adventures include:

Laura traveling to Indianapolis for a work conference in June
Katie traveling to Sweetbriar College for a week-long Engineering class
Carleigh  having her first paying job with Parks and Rec
Don enjoying Junior and relaxing

Our 11 day wild west adventure to Wyoming and Utah - paragliding, bison, moose, hiking, our 18th Anniversary, Katie's 15th birthday and who know's what other adventures we will encounter?

Our 14th year of our week in Emerald Isle with my family - I love our beach time!!

Stay tuned to see how joy and happiness fill our summer vacation!!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Feb - May, 2017

Spring with the Rahns - lots of fun!!

February - The Great Dishwasher Flood 2.0


Leo Turns 1

We visit Christopher Newport University with Carleigh


Easter with Family

Spring Break at Virginia Tech


Carleigh helped organize the We're All Human Walk at LVHS

Carleigh goes to Prom!

Katie hangs out with her friends and finds old friends!

Fun times at the premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy 2

Mother's Day fun

Carleigh's Newspaper Article on Happiness and announcement as editor-in-chief