Sunday, November 24, 2013

Water Under the Bridge

The other day was designated a "Mama and Amelia Day."

We don't get many of these days often during the school year, and I wanted it to be special and filled with fall fun.

It was a perfect, perfect day.

We went to Burt's Pumpkin Farm and hit it at a really good time.  The crowds were low and the pumpkin rolls were delicious.






Amelia and I got to ride the hay ride all by ourselves.  She sat in my lap, talked my ear off about pumpkins, and enjoyed the view.

I knew Amicalola Falls was just down the road, so I thought we would try it out.   I asked Amelia if she wanted to see "the waterfall," and she assured me that she did, and that she could handle all of the steps.  I haven't been to Amicalola in years, so I wasn't sure about the hike, but I thought if it got too rigorous, we could turn around and walk back down.

The park was beautiful, and the weather was perfect - crisp but not too cold, with a warm sun beating down on us in a promising manner.


When we got to the first little fall, Amelia shrieked in excitement.  "WATERFALL, MAMA!  WATERFALL!"

After she said that, I knew we made the right decision.

"You haven't seen anything yet!" I promised.

Once I explained to her that there were many more steps to take to get to the really big waterfall, Amelia determined to reach it.  She climbed those stairs like a pro, gingerly taking each step with excitement.  There were several elderly couples around us, and they all marveled at her energy and intensity.


And then - we finally saw it.  Beauty.

How can anyone see such things and doubt the presence of God?

We climbed to the little bridge that stretched across the fall and I stared for a second.

"Isn't it amazing, Amelia?" I asked pointing heavenward.

"Amelia?"





"Look, MAMA!  Water is under here! Look at that water!  Look!  Look!"

As much as I tried to convince Amelia that the real beauty was right before her, I couldn't take her head out that grate.  People walked by her and giggled and pointed at the sight.

It was borderline embarassing.

We were at this beautiful waterfall, and my child looked down?

She was more enamored with the water below the bridge than she was with the water above her.


And I snapped a picture, shook my head, and then felt in my spirit that God had something to teach me - that He would find the words to summarize this event in my head.

Sometimes words come to me in jumbles - in puzzle pieces - and I have to knit them together, but I knew there was something  in that moment that I needed to take with me.

When I prayed for this girl, I prayed for wisdom.  Leadership.  That God would use her in mighty ways.  And when He made her, He made her to see things that not everyone sees.

When the rest of the world looks up, she looks down, to see the beauty - the miracle - below her.

We all have bridges in our lives - things we've had to inevitably cross.  We all want to see the waterfalls, but sometimes, we forget that there is beauty in victory - in standing over bridges to watch the waters of despair finally, finally leave us.  Redemption's bridge is just as beautiful as waterfalls of righteousness.

I'll never forget that moment - when my daughter looked down when others looked up - as a reminder to take in the whole scene.

There is splendor in the extraordinary, sure, but sometimes there is something worthy to be found in observing the little things - the dirty things - the things that seem unlovable.

 May I never forget to be thankful for the girl that looks down.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

They Are Leaving Us

This year on the EHMS Veterans Day Panel, we had three men who were World War II Veterans (I've done a little research on this word and been told that the word "Veteran" is supposed to be capitalized, so there you have it).

These three men were precious, feisty, and full of stories.  Some were of war, some were of a soldier's day-to-day life, and some were of heartbreaking loss.





One of the younger Veterans turned toward the WWII Veteran from the Navy and asked sincerely, "Sir, how old are you?"

"I'm ninety-one!" He piped up happily.

Ninety-one.

I think I was just as shocked as the students.  Am I this old?  Are they this old? 

Many, many of our WWII Vets are in their nineties. 

Some of the students probably found that these older gentlemen told tales of war a little too boring for their ears.  Some students probably were thinking about their next Tweet or Instagram post.  But for many - they understood. I could see it in their eyes. They knew they were hearing stories they may never hear again.

I went home, exhausted from the events of the panel, to find that Jeremy found me an article about the Doolittle Raids.  Every year, the Veterans from this battle have a meeting to remember what took place.  Only four out of the original eighty soldiers are left, and one was too sick to attend this year.  It was decided that this year would be the last reunion.  I cried looking at that sad little picture of the three Veterans celebrating the very last reunion of the Doolittle Raids.

Folks, they are leaving us.  These veterans - these members of the Greatest Generation (and even those who are younger)- are falling away, one by one.

And with them go their stories.  Their tales of heroism.  Their tales of sacrifice.  Their tales of sadness.  Their tales of having nothing - and making that nothing into something extraordinary.

This year, the panel felt sad without the addition of one beloved Mr. McElreath - the Vietnam Veteran who went through such a tragic experience in war.  He was too sick to attend this year, and his health is declining.  I'm so thankful that he got to speak to those groups of kids last year - it gave his story new vigor.  It gave his story a chance to live.

So, on the eve of this Veterans Day, I ask that we do more than thank those Veterans around us.  If you know a Veteran, do more than say "thank you."  Ask them if they are willing to share their story.  Each story is precious, personal, and a gift of living history.  You never know when that story may fade.
 
"They know you appreciate them. They need you to learn about them. Tell them that you will." - Jarrod Chlapowski

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Orange Fever

I just bought this:



This is what Starbucks uses in its Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  I have yet to make anything or find anything that even comes close to this pumpkin sauce.  The other concoctions are good, but there is something really distinct about this syrup (that doesn't have a single bit of pumpkin in it...shocker). 

64 ounces of this goodness means I'll have my own PSLs for cheap, and I'll have plenty left for my Cookie Swap! How amazing is that?!

I took Amelia to two of these:



 I went to a pumpkin painting party and made these stunners (try not to be envious of my Sharpie skills):


I have five pumpkins at my house.  Six if you count the one Amelia made at school.  Seven if you count the one that started randomly growing the graveyard beside my house.

Think I'm obsessed?

Amelia's 4th Birthday

Amelia had quite a birthday this year, and I'm just now posting about it.

Haven't I already told you that August is a vampire?

Apparently, so is September.  Yowza.

I have a confession. I'm not crazy about birthday parties.  I realize they are a natural part of life, like wrinkles - inevitable.  I don't plan on having Amelia a big birthday party every year, but every now and then I do feel like one is necessary.

Pinterest somehow talked me into looking into a movie party for an option.  I have a great friends in the media business, and I asked them what it would take it pull it off, and how I could do it - and they did something amazing.  They VOLUNTEERED to come to my house, set up their awesome equipment, and take it down.  For free.  Seriously. (Don't be hating on my amazing friends!  I know they're awesome!)

I knew I couldn't resist such an offer.  

So, friends, we had a movie birthday party.

I borrowed a popcorn maker.  Throughout the summer, I picked up "movie snacks" each time I went to the grocery store.  I scoured Amazon for some deals on popcorn holders.  I borrowed red and white checkered tablecloths from my in-laws.  And, of course, I bought a few cupcakes.

We had the party right at the dusk of summer - on Amelia's birthday - before our break was over.  One last hoorah before early mornings and early bedtimes.

It was fantastic, and hopefully a party Amelia will never forget.  She loved every minute of it.  She danced in front of the screen, sang all the songs, and partied hard with all of her little friends.






It was truly a perfect night.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Voices

This is my desk.



If you look past the clutter, the ever-evil glue gun, and the laptop, you'll discover something interesting.

You'll find my career.

It is scattered about in dust-filled fragments, scraps of paper, middle school pictures with braces, and little cards that say "thank you."

These are my kids. This - this - encompasses ten years of a teacher's life.

It's not what I would have imagined when I was that bright-eyed girl out of college. Teaching is spontaneous and varied - full of life change and an unpredictable brand of crazy.

Some of the kids on my wall are going to a new adventure in high school.  Some of them are college graduates.  Some of them are living out dreams that defy poverty and my wildest imagination.  Some of them have sadder stories -  but they are still my kids, and they know I want the best for them.

To me, these bits of memorabilia are my little cheering section when days go south in a hurry.  When pressure hits, I think about them.  When that student has me at the limit of my patience, they say, "There was that kid in my class, too.  But you still taught me.  You remembered me."

When grading and paperwork bombard me beyond imagination, they say, "We know when you're stressed out.  Try to be funny.  That's what we like about you."

Most importantly, they say things that only the heart can feel.

They remind me of the precious, fragile responsibility of a teacher - we hold lives just for a moment. We grasp just a little vapor of a moment - and then they leave us.

They remind me of validity in some cliches.  There's more behind a kid than a standardized test score, than a notch in a grade book, than a pass rate percentage.

They remind me that they're just kids.  Kids who (for the most part) grow up to be reasonable, responsible adults.  And it means something to them to be loved by a teacher in their youth.


They inspire me to love the next group coming in the way I loved them.  To give more, do more, think more, push more.  They remind me that the best educators constantly refine and hone their methods.  These precious voices from the past are truly my catalyst.

They remind me to redeem my 8th grade year - the nightmare that it truly was - each and every year.  To give those kids - in the midst of awkward and adulthood - a year full of love, hope, and thinking beyond themselves.

I owe it to them, and to the ones who grace my door each day, willing (and even not so willing) to learn.

Teachers, here's to the new school year.

May we remember what we value, and listen to the voices of those who have moved on.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pinterest Finds and Fails

I love Pinterest food boards.

What did I do before these? I think I actually opened a cookbook.

I tend to look at these boards while I'm hungry.  This is a bad thing, because I pin everything in sight - even nonsensical stuff.

However, I actually make a great deal of the stuff I find, and sometimes recipes inspire me to get creative and start my own recipes.  There are some good, solid, decent recipes on Pinterest that are worth your time.  And there are some that are just...well, off.

I went scrolling through my "Food..." board tonight.  After skimming, I decided to post what's worked for for me, what hasn't worked for me, and what I want to try.

My finds, fails, and future.

Find:



I made these Blueberry Streusel Bars yesterday.  They're super simple and really yummy.  They involve boxed cake mix, which some of my foodie friends might snarf at, but the cinnamon and buttery cake mix totally brings the blueberries to life.  I was super impressed.



My sister-in-law actually made these strawberry shortcake cake pops.  But let me tell you:  YUM. The recipe is legit.



Okay, I didn't actually make this, because I don't know the metric system, and quite frankly, the metric system frightens me.  I could live peacefully in Italy until I saw 27 degrees Celsius on a thermometer, and then sheer chaos would ensue.  But, the theory behind this ice cream was compelling.  I made a batch of vanilla ice cream, and before I added it to my ice cream maker, I  added in two Starbucks Via packets (it was a small batch - add more for a bigger batch).  Then added in a drizzle of Nutella thinned out with skim milk.  It was pretty simple and worked out well.







I will never roast a chicken in another way.  Perfection. 



Time consuming, but very good.  The topping makes these. 



I am a terrible baker, but this cake came out perfectly.  If you want just a simple yellow cake, this is it.



Rich and decadent, but not nearly as Nutella-esque as you would think.  If you're dying for the Nutella taste in these it is pretty subtle.  But still...it's a pretty darn tasty chocolate cupcake.



There's a reason the Barefoot Contessa is still making shows on the Food Network while her former co-workers have lost their time lot to Cupcake/Monster Cake/Orange Juice Wars.  She consistently brings recipes to the table that are genuine and delicious.  This recipe is no exception.



Holy blondies, Batman. I'll never use another recipe.  It's that good. It's got  depth to it that surpasses a chocolate chip cookie, and the gooey texture just melts in your mouth.  Heaven.



Just make this.  Just do it. I have terrible luck with slow cookers.  This is the best slow cooker recipe ever.  It turns out every time and it is simply divine.  Probably my favorite Pinterest find.


Meh:



This was just okay.  I thought the batter was pretty bland.  I wasn't a fan of the texture, either.  It could just be me, but I wasn't crazy about it.  Maybe I don't like clafouti?



This was just not my favorite.  I was expecting to really love it, but the gooey was overpowering and to me it didn't have the really strong taste of chocolate I was desiring.

FAIL:




No.  Just no.  Microwaves and cakes...most of the time, it just doesn't work, people.  I'll keep dreaming and hoping...but I've yet to find a good one.




I really wanted to like these.  But they were so dry I added simple syrup to them to save them.  they were oddly bitter, the texture was strangely tough, and the cake was just way too dry.  It may have been operator error, but I don't plan on making these again.



These got thrown out.  If it looks delicious, sweet, and healthy - all at the same time - someone is lying about something.  I'd rather just eat an apple.  Burned tops, odd texture, weird taste.  Not for me.

For the Future:



I really, really want to learn how to make croissants.  I feel like this fall (after I've lost my summer weight - I actually gain in summer and lose in winter) will be a perfect time to undertake this endeavor.  These look scrumptious.

Wow.  I just said scrumptious.



Apples will be in season soon! I can't wait to make this.  I love French Toast anything!



My last Carbonara attempt was a major disaster.  Scrambled eggs and pasta.  Sigh.  I hope this recipe will offer some redemption.

Overall, I've been really pleased with what I've found on Pinterest, and I can't wait to find new recipes.  I'm so excited that there are cooks all over the place who are gifted and creative and want to share their recipes with me. It makes my heart happy. :)


Monday, July 8, 2013

Slow Your Roll: A Message to My Sisters in Faith

Several years ago, I attended a Bible study for college kids (hence the term SEVERAL) that I anxiously awaited each week.  The messages were great and the worship music was really incredible.  Louie Giglio was the speaker...you may have heard of a study called 7:22.

One week while wrapping up 7:22, Louie was giving one of his lengthy (sorry, that's what they are/were) prayers.  During the prayer, my ears perked up at the undeniable sound of wailing.  From an infant.  At a college kid Bible study.

I felt my face go hot.  This was a Bible study for young people.  This lady, obviously, had no reason being there - especially not with her amazingly annoying kid.

Then, I heard Louie's prayer shift (and I paraphrase):  "Lord, while we're all thinking about that lady with her baby, remind us all of something.  She really, really wanted to be here with us tonight."


Just like that, I remembered grace.

For lack of a better term, there are many "babies crying"  in our lives - many incidences which can deter us from remembering circumstances and the people behind them.  Circumstances that can render our brains to wrap around a pattern of judgement as opposed to a pattern of empathy.

Social media, for many of us, has moved our speech from our never-stopping mouths to our never-slowing fingertips. We get up in a cycle of consistently talking - sharing the latest trends, opinions, and viral videos.  We talk a whole lot, and we share a whole lot.

For the past few weeks, it's been bikinis.  There's a video going around that features a smart speech from a girl who didn't like her choices in swimsuits, so she designed some lovely one-piece designs for herself.  I watched the video.  I liked the video.  Her thoughts were organized and given in a thoughtful manner.  I understood her perspective, and yet it didn't change mine.

I turned to some of the commentary surrounding the video. This, of course, was a major mistake.

Commentaries from my sisters in faith can be a fearsome and frightening thing to behold.  The comments sound similar on most blogs/video sites of this sort.

The commentaries in general read an awful lot like this:  


 "Are we really _______________ (fill in the blank) if we wear/do/see/read _______________ (fill in the blank again)?" 

"Am I really enough of a _______________________ because I still like/wear/read/do___________________?"

And, my favorite...

"Women who ______________________ are not really setting good examples."

Ladies, I'd like to offer us some advice, straight from the mouths of (8th grade) babes:

Slow. Your. Roll.

Y'all, it's time us - all of us - to chill out.   Are dresses too short?  Yes.  Are certain types of literature too sketchy for Christian women?  I'm not an authority on this subject, but yeah - probably.   Do we need to spend as much time on facebook as some of us do?  Probably not.  Should I have bought that Cuisinart ice cream maker? Definitely not!  Are you crafting/making food/living up to modern female Christian expectations?  NO, YO!  They're impossible!

Are we all bad? YES!  Don't you see?!  Slow your roll!

(Have you already stopped reading this blog?  Maybe.)

But here's the thing - do you know what we need more than opinions?

Grace.  Do we all need grace?

Yes, yes, and yes.

I'm not perfect...you're not perfect...that girl with the too short dress in the bikini reading that sketch-a-letch book isn't perfect, either (though she would be quite a woman to behold in such attire!).

But you know what?  That girl needs love and peace and kindness and hope like everyone else.  She needs a cup of coffee/tea/coke/ice water and a hug.  She needs to be told, "I know life is hard."  She needs to be told, "I understand."  Those are two of the most empathy-saturated, life-giving words out there.

A simple lifestyle choice, quietly made, can say more than a thousand clicks of a mouse.  Than a comment snidely stated.

I'm in a Beth Moore Bible study right now, and it comes with "levels."  Level one is just to attend the study.  She implicitly states that if you just want to attend the study, she's fine with it.  "Don't let anyone make you feel bad about that," she says.

Homegirl gets it...why can't the rest of us?  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just understand that we're all at different levels of life and offer love and encouragement to those around us?  Wouldn't it be great if we could meet each other at our levels and love one another?

See, I'm not too different from that girl in that college Bible study.  Every day, my brain is wired to that pattern of judgement - of forgetting levels, forgetting people.  Every day, I'm apt to forget grace.  I'm just as guilty - and just as much in need of slowing my roll.


I let blogs and pictures and instagrammed lives with their glossed-over sheen dictate my feelings and my run the gamut of my emotions.  But I'm wrong. There's more behind people than the lives they show.  There's more behind people than what we know.

It's time we reach beyond the scope of our parameters and love beyond our self-instilled borders.

Are we ready?

Y'all, sometimes that baby cries hard.  Sometimes that baby crying comes in the form of that girl in the super-short dress at church.  Sometimes that baby crying comes in the form of the people talking all through church (I'm guilty!  That angers me so much - it's my biggest pet peeve.).  Sometimes that baby crying is literally that baby crying and you think you might pull your hair out - every single strand.

But let us remember who we are.  When our brains snap to places that are unkind, let us boomerang our thoughts to places of understanding.

Jesus can do that for us.

Let us love our sisters more than we love the sound of our own opinions.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Thoughts that Cross Your Mind During Monsoon Season

The Rain.

The never-ending Rain.

I don't think I've seen the sun for a week.

A rainy week for me as temporary stay-at-home mom inclines me to be creative, especially when I have a three year old who adores being outside.  We've had tea parties, read lots of books, had friends over, met friends, gone to the aquarium, played games, and of course had lots of fun.

However, sometimes we just watch television.  We just do.  Judge me if you want.  I don't really care. Television taught me to read (okay, not really.  Kind of.).

And during day after day of rainy day deluges, you start thinking about the absolute silliness that is imbued within children's programming and movies.

Why do characters on Peppa Pig oink every few seconds?  If they talk like humans, shouldn't they just talk instead of oink?  Why are they using human and oinking pig language interchagably?

If the Beast was cursed for ten years until his twenty-first year...would he have been 11 when that enchantress cursed him?  Isn't that a little young to prejudge a prince?  Did time stand still in that random French castle (is the Beast a prince of France, or just some weird Franco-esque kingdom?)

How...HOW...do those dang Bubble Guppies have an airport underwater?

How does Doc McStuffins' head not cause her to fall over constantly?  Seriously, how does she keep her head up?

Why does Dora's monkey wear boots and no other clothes?  He's obviously self-aware.  That monkey needs clothes!

Who on earth would make Oso a secret agent?  He can't even make a salad!

Calliou.  Why?  Dear goodness, just why?  Who thought this would be quality children's programming?   I feel so angry and bad for his parents all at once.  They were probably members of a cool punk-rock band before their bratty-butt kid came along.  Caillou's mom probably hides her "punk forever" tat underneath her incredibly dowdy mom clothes.

What the heck is a Wubbzy, and how many people have had seizures watching this show?

Where...WHERE are Max and Ruby's Parents?
(Yes, I actually paused my television and took this picture.)

Max and Ruby's parents are obviously in the picture above, and I've yet to see them anywhere else.  They've got a Grandma and annoying neighbors....no parents.  Maybe pictures on this show work like the ones in Harry Potter, and their parents are constantly yelling directions to them through oil-based paint.  "Ruby, put down that Bunny Scout badge and go get your brother's hand away from that boiling pot of lobster tails!"

This is what I think about.  Seriously.

Sunshine, please come soon...

A Prayer for Not Enough

Amelia is a force to be reckoned with - sheer, unbridled emotion.

A whirlwind of chaos, crazy, and wonderful.

She's three...almost four.  She's starting to test boundaries, figure out the world, and see how it ticks.  And in terms of ticking, my personal clock of sanity is about to go cookoo.  I try to set boundaries, maintain my temper, and stay firm to my rules.

This works well in an 8th grade classroom.  I am comfortable in this domain.  Fourteen year-olds are much more rational than one would imagine.  They are, for the most part, afraid of consequences.  This does not work well for a three year old who will scream, "I don't want _____________ (insert punishment here)!" for as long as it is necessary.  She will become a broken record, scream for an extended period of time, and collapse from exhaustion.  In the meantime, my nerves evolve into a frazzled web of mess and anger and crazy and hurt and all other things that are not happy.

I know that there are people out there who wondered when or if I'm having another kid.  Here's my response:  I'm so terrible with this one.  Do I deserve another kid? I can't effectively parent the one God gave me...am I really ready to take on two kids?  Do they deserve such lackluster parenting?

And it is in the moments in the midst of these meltdowns when I start to think, "what if I did this?"  "What does _________ do in this situation?"  "What book do I need to read to help me with this?" "Am I really this terrible?" 

I'm doing a Beth Moore study right now on the book of James. 

Here's what "The Message" says in James, chapter 1, verses 5-8:

"If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father.  He loves to help.  You'll get His help, and you won't be condesended to when you ask for it.  Ask boldly, belivingly, without a second thought.  People who worry 'their prayers' are like wind-whipped waves.  Don't think you're going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open."

Ouch.

In the study, I was asked to name an area where I needed wisdom in my life.  My first thought?  Motherhood.  I wrote down "Mom" in my book in my devotional at the beach.

I watched the waves toss about like my doubt in my own prayers.  I pray...I ask for help...but do I believe?

The woosh of wind and salt water stung my nostrils like the words stung my heart that day.

And today, thinking about Amelia and her 10,000th fit, I feel useless.  I feel like I flail. I feel like I fail.

Every time I wonder, "What can I do....?"  "What should I do...?" "What if I did this?" am I slapping another wave of doubt on that wind-whipped beach?  When I take matters into my own depraved hands, do I consider God?

Oh, God.  I'm not enough.

I'm just not.  I'll never be enough.  I can't do this on my own.

And yet, despite this, Beth Moore writes, "Can we count the times we chide ourselves in our lack of wisdom with the sick assurance that, after all, this is our own stupid fault?  I'm relieved to know that, even if my lack of wisdom won't get me into a mess, when I ask God for what I need, He won't delight to remind me that I'll never be enough.  Revel in knowing that the verb "ask" in James 1:5 is in present tense.  We're invited to ask as often or for as much wisdom as we need."

So Father, I acknowledge that I am just not enough.  I realize that it is wrong to constantly think about myself in an equation of trust with you.  I cannot attain anything without your help.  I don't want to be like the wind-whipped waves.  I want to be bold, confident, and believe that you can help me down this road of motherhood.  When I feel the tug of sanity loosening its grip, bring me calm.  When I feel my irrational emotions taking over, bring me wisdom.  Please help to make me the mother my daughter deserves.  Amen.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Good Life

I don't say this often, but I have a pretty perfect 6th period.

Okay, I've only said this once.  My 6th periods are usually pretty hyper - and understandably so.  In the past, a regimen of calming and wrangling was essential for all of my 6th period classes.

This year it just never happened.  I've never even had to raise my voice.

The "natives" always get restless and even a tad bit whiny after the CRCT, so I usually have to work to get them to calm down and work like they did before.  The last two weeks of school, as a general rule, are almost impossible to keep students on task.  All of my kids are pretty good, but they're getting tired and ready for summer.

Wednesday, I gave 6th period their assignment, which was to write a letter to their local legislator about an issue that concerned them.  I put on music, and they began working like it was the third day of school. 

I looked around the room.  My precious student who waves at me every single time he sees me turned around, smiled and waved.  Their hands were writing furiously - they were full of great ideas and were writing great and meaningful letters.  I walked around, helped a couple of kids, and basically just stood back.  It was one of the last days of school, it was sixth period, and my students were being downright amazing.

One Republic's "Good Life" came on my Pandora I play for the kids.  It is just a fantastic song (I didn't realize there is profanity in the lyrics - Pandora played the clean version).

But as the song came on, I just had to look at those sweet kids and think about how blessed I am to work this job.  How many of us get to go to work happy?  Thankful?

Tears filled my eyes a little.

I'm going to miss these kids so much. I thought.  

And I am.  I'm always ready for summer, but the end of the year is always bittersweet.

I'm going to miss that sweet wave that comes to me every day.  I'm going to miss my girls who say, "do you need help with that?  I will help you."  I'm going to miss the girl who notices my water cup is empty and asks to run and refill it.  I'm going to miss my quirky boys full of personality and life - they've kept me laughing all year.

I love all of my students, but I'd be lying if I didn't say that some students are just special, and that some just win my heart.

And that's my 6th period.  They've won my heart.

The good life?

Yes, the good life indeed. 

Where I've Been

Well, Christmas came around...




Then Jeremy's birthday...


Then my birthday...

 
 Then Spring Break...



Now it's May.  One day before my sister's wedding.

And I've barely stopped to draw breath.

Things got busy.  Incredibly fast.

Ever since Christmas I've been pretty swamped.  There's the normal teacher business, with grading papers and the like. Spring is a busy time for teachers with CRCT prep, but it has been pretty much as busy as it has always been.

I just finished obtaining my Gifted Endorsement, which was a time suck of epic proportions.  Pretty much any kind of creative energy I had was exhausted on writing papers for this gifted class.  Since my last blog, I've written four papers (a couple that were around fifteen pages), did ten lesson plans, planned a pretty extensive unit that was differentiated for three levels of learners, and read and researched for my papers.  When I'm writing other papers it is difficult for my brain to concentrate on other forms of writing that enjoy, like vignette writing or blogging for fun.  Amelia tripped over our computer charger and left us without our personal laptop, so that's also left me without an outlet to write (I only use my school laptop for personal business, yo).  I've missed words of my choosing.

Soccer season started in late January this year, which basically made me a single parent for a couple of months.  I don't mind the time with just me and Amelia, but I had to arrange my schedule and grade papers at night when she goes to sleep, or work on projects during nap times.

Amelia has had three stomach viruses this school year, and two since January.  It was gut-wrenchingly awful.  One of those viruses landed us in the Emergency Room with fear of Appendicitis.  I've missed more days of school this year than I've missed since maternity leave.  Not. Fun.

Then, of course, there's the big wedding that's happening in one day, and that's kept me busy, too.  I've planned showers, cleaned my house lots of times (it needs some major work this summer), and had lots of fun getting ready for my sister's wedding.

My calendar looked insane for March, April, and May.  I've never had to be one of those people who penciled in time for others, but for the past few months I found myself looking at my calendar to see when I could schedule time. 

I need summer this year!

As the end of the school year is winding down along with other events, I can only look back on the busyness and be thankful for it (well, not the stomach virus part). There have definitely been some fun and wonderful things happen these past few months.  I've had fun celebrating my sister and other friends celebrating milestones.  I know that this Gifted Endorsement will eventually pay off (although it's pretty much shown me that won't be able to handle a Specialist degree load for a long, long time). 

I'm thankful for Amelia's growth - she (for the most part) has crossed the hurdle into being fully potty trained and has shown improvements.  She can write her name (it's pretty messy, but she can do it), and she's drawing lots of cute pictures instead of scribbling.  She's saying all kinds of crazy and funny things.  She also talks to herself quite often, a trait she inherited, unfortunately, from me.  I'm hoping this summer will be a lot of fun with my little family.