It’s almost NOVEMBER?!

23 10 2016

WHAT KIND OF EVIL SORCERY IS THIS?!

Oh, right, it’s just time, flying by at warp speed. Did it speed up? Am I just going crazy?

Wait, my sanity has taken quite a hit lately! Regardless, I guess I’m just busier than I have been in a while. Or, like ever.

Good news, though: I’ve been teaching 5th grade for a month and a half, and no one has died! Or even been majorly injured! (Except my sanity.) I gotta say, though – teaching is HARD, ya’ll. Not so much the act of teaching content, life skills, and social skills to 31 individuals all at different levels and with different learning styles and abilities – no, that part I feel like I have down. If only that was all my job was about. But then you throw in the other things…the bus duty, and cafeteria duty, and changing schedules, and parent communication, and tracking/documenting every little thing. Don’t forget to collect evidence for the yearly teacher evaluation, and remember your month for birthday snacks, and didn’t you know everyone wears blue on Fridays?? Well they do. And that kid that won’t get on the bus needs consoling so he’ll board and everyone can go home. Staff meetings every Tuesday, new teacher meetings on Mondays, grade-level collaboration on Wednesdays, weekly catch-up on Fridays, and someone is sure to stop by on Thursdays. Don’t worry, the adventures of being across a parking lot from the main building in portables only adds to the everyday excitement! It’s just a little rain kids, we won’t melt!

So yeah, time has left me behind. Thankfully, I have the greatest group of 5th graders on the planet, and the most amazing coworkers to pull me through on a daily basis. The struggles some of these 10-year-olds are forced to face would rip your heart to pieces, but they still push on. I require all my students to write in a journal, and turn it in once a week. Some write beautiful poetry, some create incredible works of fiction, some regale me with tales of their weekend adventures. When the threat of a bad grade is removed, and they aren’t focused on spelling or grammar, they start writing all kinds of things. And man do they love science! And history! We currently have jugs of mini compost habitats for red worms on the bookshelf, and our butterfly larvae just built their cocoons! We researched butterfly facts all one afternoon, after spending the morning lost in the rainforests of Central America searching for Maya ruins. It’s been a lot of fun. If they learn anything at all in my classroom, I hope it’s to use their imaginations to problem solve, and that finding information isn’t nearly as important as figuring out what to do with it.

And I even managed to sneak off one weekend and tie the knot with that handsome JBoo of mine. Our families flew in from all over, several friends drove in from Bend, and we had an epic weekend overflowing with love. It was pure magic. We all gathered at a big beach house on the Oregon coast and just relaxed together. The weather mostly cooperated and two families became one. Since we had all weekend, everyone got to spend time together, and we bonded over ax throwing, ultimate frisbee, long walks down the beach, rowdy games, and lots of amazing food. The collaborative spirit of our friends helped us pull the whole thing off, and the whole group contributed to make the weekend go without a hitch. Despite the incredible weather we were blessed with, it turned windy, cold, and foggy Saturday afternoon for the ceremony. Thankfully, it was a pretty short and sweet affair, though we didn’t quite get all the pictures I wanted. It was too cold to stand out there! But our awesome photographer, Jon, snapped quickly and captured some fantastic pictures. He was able to shoot all during the weekend and documented the candid fun beyond just the formal ceremony. So good.

married on the coast, Rockaway Beach OR 2016

Happily ever after.

Yep, I’ve been a little on the busy side. We’re settling into a routine, and life is chugging along. We just booked our honeymoon over winter break, so we have something big to look forward. My class size was reduced to 27, from 31, which has made a big difference in my classroom. I’m figuring things out and finding my way around my school, while trying to find a work/life balance. The next time I get a chance to blog, it might be Thanksgiving…or New Year’s…but that’s ok. I have found where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m meant to be doing, and I’m happy.

Life is good. 🙂

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Celebrating milestones

24 06 2016

Omg yall, I didn’t do anything yesterday. I stayed in my PJs and puttered around the house and did very little productive tasks. Ok, I did a little laundry and I bathed my wedding dress and I worked on stuff….but in the grand scheme of things, I did NOTHING!!

I’m not just bragging about being a total bum for an entire day, this actually has significance. I didn’t do anything yesterday because I didn’t have to do anything. For the first time in 14 months, there are no deadlines looming, no papers or projects or presentations awaiting completion. No articles or chapters are smuggly waiting their turn to be read and highlighted.

I HAVE FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL AND HAVE NOTHING TO DO!!!!!!! I just need a minute to relish this moment…..

image

If you ever have to do something difficult, make sure you do it with amazing people. It helps.

….because of course, that’s not actually true. I have lots and lots and LOTS to do.

For example, I have a wedding in two and half months that needs to be planned. My wedding. Like I haven’t even mailed out the invitations yet.

I also have a job! A professor asked me to come back and work for the program my cohort participated in last summer as part of one of our classes. But whereas last year I had to pay the university, this year they pay me! I get to be on the planning side this time, mentoring the new grad students and acting as lead teacher for the program. It’s only for about a month and a half, but I get PAID. I will collect a paycheck and have INCOME! Maybe I’ll even put a smidge of that money back on my crippling student loans!!

Speaking of jobs, I actually got another one of those money-making things, but like FOR REAL. Like a real real job, like a teaching job to begin my career with the degree I just got. I’M A REAL TEACHER YALL. September 7th, I will welcome my first class of 5th graders. I’ve already started attending professisonal development days with my district AND I HAVEN’T EVEN SIGNED THE CONTRACT YET. To say I’m excited would be like saying an atom is small. However, it’s all a bit overwhelming and stressful at the same time. So much to think about, and set up, and figure out. But it’s all perfect.

So, obviously I have things to do. Like a lot. But it’s different – the crushing weight of grad school has lifted and the light of employment is shining down. I’m planning the weekend when I get to marry the man of my dreams and wear the fanciest dress ever. I’m hoarding supplies and books and plans for my first classroom and pouring over my curriculum materials. It’s all so scary and magical and stressful and thrilling.

Also, in case you missed it, I FINISHED GRAD SCHOOL!!!!

🙂





Lessons Learned from Grad School

23 06 2015

Unbelievable. I have finished my first semester as a grad student. Wooooo!

Despite the fact that this was a summer session that clocked a super-short 6 weeks, I have to admit something: I feel vastly more smart than I did 6 weeks ago. I mean, SO SMART. And since I’m so smart now, I thought I would tell you a few things I’ve learned in my transition to brilliance. Feel free to take notes, I don’t mind.

1) I don’t know nearly as much as I thought I did about teaching or education in general. Like, nothing.

2) My brain really can function on only 4 hours of sleep.

3) My body will cease to function if I attempt #2 twice in a row.

4) The brain is a marvelous contraption. For instance, it can dig deep and pump out some impressively well-thought-out, thoroughly researched, high-quality pieces of work, while running exclusively on caffeine.

5) Caffeine really is an alternative fuel source. (“Addiction” is such a strong word…)

6) I have found a new love. His name is espresso and we’re going to live happily ever after.

7) Speaking of addiction, I need a support group for my new-found drugs: the crafty aisle at Goodwill and clearance stickers at Michael’s. I have at least a year before I start teaching elementary, but I’ve already started hoarding glitter glue sticks and packages of fancy paper, funky scissors and smelly-good markers, emoji stickers and random bags of string. You just NEVER KNOW when these things will come in handy!!

8) It takes no time at all to slip back into the diet that helped keep my girlish figure through my undergrad; the diet most commonly known as the “broke college kid” diet. Suddenly having no income besides my outrageous student loans sent me immediately back to this diet and the ramen aisle at the grocery store. Sad day. (My girlish figure of my undergrad days has not yet been located…)

9) Back to the amazing capacities of the brain: let’s talk about the wonders of skimming. The ability to cover 12 chapters that are due tomorrow. Totally possible! (And yes, caffeine may be at work here, as well.)

10) Will power is truly tested by the Procrastination Monkey that tries to distract me from my priorities. Pros: I’ve started running again! And I’ve learned to skim, and bust through the procrastination barriers, and git ‘er done when I need to! Cons: Netflix withdrawals are real, and they are painful.

11) I have no idea how to cook for one person. I either have enough food for the neighborhood or nothing and I eat crap. I really need to figure this out.

12) Spending 9 1/2 hours in class with 9 other people, even just twice a week, can in fact make you fast friends with these people very quickly. All 9 of my fellow cohort-ians already know more about me than many people I’ve know for years. (Just ask Tim about my spirit animal…)

13) Grad school is the greatest decision I could have made, and the timing was absolutely perfect. My fellow classmates of my cohort are all amazing people that I am so excited to be with for this journey. From Day 1 (ok, maybe Day 2 after I recovered from the overwhelming shock of Day 1), I have felt the excitement grow, and I am so relieved and grateful to have my decision validated. This is exactly what I should be doing.

And now I have to get back to my reading! Today was the first day of the second summer semester, and there’s no room for slacking. This time next year, I’ll be all done – gotta keep on chuggin’!

PS: For any of you parents out there – if your children have teachers even half as dedicated as those that I’ve met, your child will be one lucky student. 😀  





Being Grateful for Chaos

24 04 2015

There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. -Nelson Mandela

It all started January of 2014. We were crossing the threshold into a brand new year, and I took stock of my life. I had the necessities: good job, roof over my head, plenty of food, loyal dog, handsome man.

As good as things were, life was not quite where I needed it to be. Mostly, working remotely was no longer working well for me, and I decided it was time for a little change.

Sadly, I’ve never been good at “little” change. Instead of rearranging the place settings on my table, I grabbed the edge, really put my back into it, and flipped the whole damn table over.

table-flip of my life, chasing dreams

The table symbolizes my life.

After tons of research, nights of pondering my options, conversation after rambling conversation with J, and a notebook full of discarded ideas, I emerged with a game plan.

Even at the end of my twenties, soul searching to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, what I want to do with my life, is a scary, complicated, maddening task. How do we ever know where to find the answers to the big scary LIFE questions?? And once we make a decision, how on God’s green earth do we know it’s the right one?!

We don’t. We pick a dream and we chase it. We take the leap to pursue our passions. We can always adjust the course along the way, but the dream is the important compass that keeps us going.

Right? I’m pretty sure I read that on a pillow once. But this is what I’m doing. Dream chasing.

So, I talked to an adviser last spring, and almost 9 months later, requirements finally met, I mailed in my application for the Master’s in Teaching graduate program at Washington State University.

A slew of tests, sleepless nights, and freak-outs later, I finally received my acceptance letter — WOOOO! But the happy dance didn’t last long…too much to do! That letter came at the end of March, and the first day of class is May 11. My to-do list still stretches about 5 miles long and I wish I had a device to measure my emotional mood swings like a seismometer measures earth quakes.

In three short weeks, nothing will be the same as it is today. I will have moved out of my house with J to a new house in Vancouver, WA – a city I know almost nothing about. I’ll be living with two dudes I found on Craigslist instead of with my beau and my mutt. Each weekend, I’ll drive back to stay with J in a new house I’ve not yet even seen. My career at G5, where I’ve worked for 5 1/2 years will be over, and I’ll now be a part-time barista at a little local coffee shop. My first grad school classes will have begun.

What the hell have I done?

No, this is good, all these scary things are good. These massive life changes are all in pursuit of a main goal: to become an elementary teacher. See? That doesn’t sound so scary! All this stuff in the middle is just temporary, the stepping stones paving the path which I use to chase this dream. (Too bad a drunk, blind, inexperienced elf laid the stepping stones. Does the path really need to be this stressful?!)

Even though I know it’s temporary, I’m stressed about J and I’s impending geographic separation. He’s been my daily constant for 4 years – now I have to do without?? And what about my sweet little Simba, my furbaby, my constant companion? I only get to see him on weekends? So not fair! (Ok, not fair to me. But Simba will now become a Ranger Dog and get to hike with J all the time, instead of being cooped up in my room waiting for me to get home from class…)

And quitting my job – saying I was unprepared for that would be the understatement of the year. I thought I was ready, finally done with the place, done with the glass ceiling I’ve been smashed against for about 3 years now. Working remotely sounds awesome to those who don’t do it, but having no opportunities at all because you aren’t in the office – not awesome. But when the time came to break the news to my boss – the same boss I’ve worked under for 4 years now – I almost cried. Thank goodness the quality of Google Hangouts is not that great. My team is a tight-knit, well-oiled machine, and I have grown and learned so much with and from these guys, it’s almost impossible to think of moving on without them. Maybe they’ll all come to grad school with me?! I can only hope to find myself in a group with such talent, passion, and humble accomplishments sometime again.

Ok, now I’m going to cry again.

My friends and family have all been so encouraging and supportive – I really wouldn’t have made it this far without them. They have given me the courage to take the first steps, and then been there all along the way with advice, hugs, cards, Kleenex, high-fives, long phone conversations, and never-ending support. I wish I could find a bra that held me up as well as the amazing people I have in my life.

And J. My sweet J. I would never be here, hurtling myself head over heels after a dream I’ve hidden in the back of my heart for most of my life, if it weren’t for my J.  He reminds me why I’m doing all this, tells me it’ll all be worth it, and repeatedly encourages me with “You can do this”. (Even in the middle of the night, as I lie awake worrying.)

So yes, I am grateful for the chaos. I’m grateful for the brains and courage and ambition that have landed me in the delightful mess. Despite all I’ve made it through so far, I know this is only the beginning of the hard work, but I’ve made it past the first milestone, so I’m celebrating that. I did not settle for the life that was easy, but lacking in passion; good but not great.

Never settle for ordinary, friends, when we were created to be extraordinary.

 








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