Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekend Loves

I wanted to cringe when I clicked over to "September" as I was scheduling this blog post.  It can't be the end of summer yet!!  Tomorrow is my first contracted day back, which means that I shall spend today laying around in between some organizational binges.  

This weekend was jam packed full of several planned and a handful of not-so-planned activities.  What a way to say goodbye to summer and usher in the beloved fall.

On Friday night, we had some friends over for dinner, which was great as always.  They are getting married in January (I'm in the wedding!) and we are just so excited for them.  Courtney and I have been friends since 6th grade and I could not be more happy for her relationship with Brandon.  She and I both follow the same gluten-free ayurvedic diet, so I made chicken breasts, a delicious florentine sauce, mashed potatoes, zucchini, and a salad.  

Walker and I decided to go shopping for some apartment things on Saturday, because we realized that it's pretty difficult to entertain friends with just a couch and a couple of hard kitchen chairs.  We went to two separate Home Goods stores and though we were unsuccessful in the chair/end table department, we got some fabulous wall hangings, including a gorgeous framed chalkboard.  I feel like I'm officially a blogger!  

And then on Saturday night, I had the most wonderful blate (blogger date) with Krista!  She and I have been friends for over a year and a half and only like like 45 minutes away from each other, but it took us until now to meet up.  Her husband actually grew up in the next town over from where we live, so he dropped her off at a restaurant and went to hang with his parents while we happy hour-ed it up.  I feel like that deserves its own post, so here's a sneak preview of the evening.

And on Sunday, Walker decided that he was really intent on finding those two chairs, a couple of end tables, and ultimately a desk for each of us, so we ventured out to Target because they always have really gorgeous accent chairs.  Well, that turned into a whirlwind day (to say the least) and we visited at least four more furniture stores in desperate search of said items.  We actually found a gorgeous desk for me at Pier 1, but it was $300 and needed to be assembled (read: probably pretty cheap).

It looks gray here...but it's really a light blue.

After a brief fight (he wanted to pull the trigger, I wanted to wait) we came home and perused Craigslist, only to find a similar style desk for only $20.  We picked it up (didn't get murdered in the process!) and it's actually good quality!  I never considered myself a DIY person...but we're going to try to refinish and paint the piece to make it look like the breathtaking blue one.  Anyone have any tips?! 

Enjoy your Labor Day - may it be filled with plenty of delicious food and barbeque

Friday, August 29, 2014

It's Weekend Time!

Oh Friday, you came so quickly this week!  So much for dragging out those dog days of summer...

This weekend, I'm thankful for the holiday.  School is closed today through Monday and it forces me to focus on something other than setting up my classroom.  I mean, I'm pretty much done, but it's nice to remember that I physically cannot even get inside the door if I wanted to.  

Here's what I'm happy about this week:

1 // In the span of about 48 hours, I knocked Gone Girl and Divergent off of my "to-read" list.  Both were fascinating, though I'll admit that I liked the twisted thriller better than the young adult dystopia.  But man, it felt good to have my nose in a book again!

2 // After my disappointing Groupon manicure, I called the salon and let them know how atrocious it looked.  They were nice and let me come back in to have it redone.  I ended up with an adventurous (for me) color this time - "Borrowed and Blue"  

3 // Though I couldn't sleep at all on Wednesday night, being awake in the quiet of my living room allowed me to flesh out some feelings that I have on this upcoming year.  It was oddly therapeutic.

4 // I am in love with the BeFit channel on youtube!  I found a 90 day workout challenge that I'm really enjoying - I find that 35 minutes burns ~400 calories, which seems pretty darn time efficient to me!  Add to that some Tone It Up moves and you've got yourself a super solid workout.  

5 // It's going to be a busy weekend, full of social engagements.  First of all, Walker and I get to hang out with precious Maggie while my parents are away.  Plus we have friends coming to dinner tonight.  And on Saturday...I might just have a BLATE! (blogger date)

What do you have planned for this Labor Day weekend?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Stressful Days & Sleepless Nights

No teacher sleeps well the night before the first day of school.  It's a given fact.  We go to bed early, lunches packed, and clothes set out, and then toss and turn like mad trying desperately to get some rest.  If we're lucky, the night is dreamless - if not, we watch our biggest fears of inadequacy come to life with nightmares of rebellious students and failed lesson plans.  

Apparently my body is a week ahead, because school doesn't start for another seven days, yet I'm writing this post in the middle of the night in hopes that my heart will stop racing and I'll wind down a little.  One of my (failed) sleep techniques was seeing if I can name all 20 of my soon-to-be fourth grade students in alphabetical order.  Spoiler alert: I can!  Guess all those hours of writing their names on stuff really paid off...

So here I sit, hoping and dreaming about the next 180 work days of the coming year.  I'm not sure how to verbalize the way I feel about my role as a teacher, but it's really unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  Sure, when it comes right down to it, my job is cut and dry - teach the curriculum, prepare for PARCC (our lovely new standardized tests) and prove that they make progress.  I've written before about the intricacies and nuances of the profession, but something happened yesterday that really struck me.

As I roamed the halls at school on my way to the copy machine, I saw a third grade teacher setting up her room and stopped in to say hi.  After we exchanged pleasantries, I rattled off some of the names of my students' and she was able to give me tips - everything from "oh he's a character" to "oh my gosh, she was such a dollbaby!".  She then told me a story about something very sad that happened to one of the sweet girls who I am privileged to call one of my own this year.  Without divulging the specifics, this child still holds onto emotional baggage from something that happened in kindergarten.  Her teacher called her a name (probably offhandedly) and it has stuck with her for the last four years.  She's completely consumed by it.  As a result, she hardly speaks in the presence of her teachers.

I.  Am.  Horrified.  Not only because I feel for this particular student, but also because I am now overwhelmed with the sheer power that I have.  I walked away from that conversation with a whole perspective.  You mean to tell me that every word I say to a child could have a lifelong and profound effect on him or her?  Whoa.

You know I pray for my students?  I'll admit, sometimes it's a please, Lord, let Billy show growth on this standardized test, but oftentimes, like tonight, it's for their character, their livelihood, their souls.

Yes, I want my kids to get good grades, to get along, and to be successful in school.  But more importantly, I want them to feel safe.  I want them to feel confident.  I want them to see qualities in me that they strive to emulate throughout the rest of their lives.  

I have the opportunity to spend more time with these children, these developing minds of the future, for seven waking hours of their day.  Chances are, they will go home at 3:00, do some homework, eat dinner, participate in some organized activity, and go to bed.  I may actually have more day to day influence than their parents!  That's a whole lot of responsibility.  

I sit now in the quiet of my living room, my mind swimming with all of the things I would say to my fourth graders if they were sitting in front of me.  I may run a tight ship, I may be a stickler about uncompleted homework, and I may not tolerate backtalk, but deep inside, all I want is to make a difference.  

So sweet students of mine, you may be nervous about the first day of school.  You may have heard that Mrs. S is nice, or maybe you've heard that she's mean, but you'll get to decide for yourselves soon enough.  Until then...just know that somewhere, Mrs. S is praying for you and planning for you.  She's spent the last few weeks preparing for your arrival into her classroom, cleaning it up just so and spending her own money on making it a special place for you.  She hopes this will be your best year yet and promises to spend countless hours making it as great as she possibly can.  Why?  Because you are worth it.  You deserve a quality education and she knows that you have the potential to succeed.  She cares for you, even if you've never met before.

There's no better feeling than collapsing at the end of a busy day, dead tired, but knowing that your existence is meaningful.  You're making a difference in the lives of a child.  What an amazing privilege it is to teach.