Friday, March 27, 2015

Optimism

I am officially five work days away from spring break and some quality time with my Batwin! Y'all, words cannot express how excited I am to finally have some down time to chill with friends and relax. I need it. No, seriously, it's not a want at this point. It's a need. My head may explode without this time off.

The new diet is going better. Turns out, cutting out sugar, dairy, and all gluten/wheat products comes with a special kind of hell called withdrawal. Yep. Nothing says "yay for my health" quite like four days of feeling like I'm going to die.

I passed out on Monday before getting in my car to go to work. I also could not consistently focus on any one thought or get rid of my massive headache all day Monday. Needless to say, I missed work. Can't risk passing out on the morning commute! 

Things did get better after that and I am feeling way better now though. We are adapting to our new way of eating. My body is still pretty pissed. I'm dropping weight like a bad habit. I'm down more than five pounds since Sunday. Nt the worst side effect I've ever experienced....

I also recently discovered that Revlon is no longer a drugstore disaster from the 80s. Either that or my taste in cosmetics has time-warped because I'm loving their stuff right now. My go-to lipstick is Revlon and I just finished painting my (short, bitten, neglected) nails in the cutest pink nail polish called optimism. 

It's the little things in life. Pink nail polish and withdrawal symptoms fading quickly. :)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Let's all try to stay positive

About two weeks ago a huge emotional bomb was dropped around here and since then we have been dealing with the fallout. Not going to lie, I've been doing a pretty awesome impersonation of an angsty teenager with my tear-filled journaling sessions lately. It's been an overwhelming couple of weeks.

First of all, we are no longer pursuing adoption. This was not my choice, but after months of planning and prayer, my husband is not ready to go down that road. It feels right for me in my heart as our next step, but he feels pretty much opposite about it. After some long and honest talks with each other, and a good bit of prayer, we decided to pursue fertility testing instead.

Yes, that's right. We are embarking again on the TTC rollercoaster. This time with the added bonus of being poked with needles and getting on a first name basis with our doctors. Again, not my first choice, but it feels like the right thing to do at this moment in time. The blessing and the curse of marriage is that you have to be willing to meet your spouse where they are and honor their feelings as much as your own. As much as I have emotionally invested in adoption as my hope for finally becoming parents, my husband has done the same for fertility testing. It makes sense to do one before the other, so here we go.

It's a lot to take in, but I am trying to stay positive and stay focused on the fact that Steve and I have the same goal: to become parents.

We actually had our first meeting with the fertility doctor on Friday. We both took the morning off of work for our initial consult, and it was a good thing we did because holy crap was there a lot to take in!

The doctor looked at my charts from the last two years (yay sympto-thermal method for keeping me organized!) as well as some other information we provided for her and it would seem that we have a lot of issues going on between the two of us. Over the next month we are being tested for a bunch of things before meeting with her again to receive an official diagnosis and treatment plan.

Ok, now for the childish complaining (what's that? You thought the whole post was already full of that? Just wait...)

One of the things the doctor wants me (and Steve by extension) to do is adopt a special diet to help manage the inflammation caused by my IBS and get my weight into "a more ideal range". Yes, that's what she said. Nice lady.

NBD, right? WRONG!

I love food. I love making it, eating it, giving it to other people, buying it, preserving it... the whole nine. On this diet I will be cutting out all dairy, all sugar except the kind naturally occurring in my food, and all grains.

Yup. No bread, no cheese, none of the good stuff. It's lean meats and veggies (and 1/2 cup of berries per day) for the next two cycles. Then, depending how I handle it, I can slowly introduce natural sugars (like honey) and small amounts of grains (like quinoa and brown rice).

As I write this I'm eating what passes for breakfast on this new adventure of mine: chocolate chia seed pudding. Doesn't sound too bad, right? It's not. Not too bad. That's the nicest thing I can say about chocolate pudding and it makes me sad. The way Steve reacted you would have thought I was poisoning him.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Unexpected encouragement - AKA: my students' parents rock

This week has been rough. In fact, rough does not even begin to cover it.

I've got weird sinus congestion going on, it has been rainy all week, the dog pooped all over the house Tuesday, my voice gave out mid-week, the custodians ruined the new rug I bought for my classroom less than 24 hours after I brought it to school, and all of my planning time this week was eaten up by meetings. Not even so much as a lunch break was had all week.

As I'm sure you can imagine, by Thursday afternoon I was 100% done with having to effectively function as an adult and less than enthusiastic about conferences.

Don't get me wrong, I love my students and their parents are (for the most part) as engaged and concerned for their kids' education as any teacher could hope for. I just was not in the mood to have those necessarily in-depth discussions this week. Especially not via a translator. Especially not after I had already worked a full day.

I did participate in conferences though and, believe it or not, I am grateful I had that time.

More than 30% of my parents showed up which is a bit of a record for me, and every single one of them told me thank you. Every. single. one. They thanked me for giving my time, for putting forth extra effort to help their child, for being encouraging, for making their child excited about school. They thanked me. One mother told me she thought I was amazing for being able to give each child so much care and attention when I had so many of them in class at one time.

It made my year.

No, seriously, I think those comments will be the thing that gets me through the rest of this year.

Also, I am looking for some way to learn Spanish. If anyone has any recommendations for how to go about doing that, please let me know. This round of conferences really drove home for me the fact that I need to be more accessible for these parents. They need to be able to call the school to talk to me and know I will be able to understand them.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Catching up

I apologize for my absence lately. It seems like February always gets away from me... not just because it's so short either.

Some interesting things are happening around here as of late. I applied for a super cool and exciting Summer Writing Institute and had my interview yesterday. I'll share more about it if/when I am accepted. For now, suffice it to say that it's a huge opportunity which would give me an entire month to give myself over to the creative process of writing. Not to mention I would be working with some incredible people within the literacy and language field.

Steve and I have also begun the process of modifying our home to accommodate the adoption process. What I mean by that for the most part is preparing our two spare bedrooms to actually serve as bedrooms. One of them is currently an office and the other serves as our version of a guest room. It has a dresser, an air mattress, and my super awesome 1970s paisley covered chaise. It also has all of our Christmas decorations in the closet. Clearly, some rearranging must be done before children can occupy that space.

Our first step in making this change has been to move the office downstairs. We have a space in our living room which has been kind of empty and unused since we moved in, so we decided to put a desk there and make it an office nook. After all, we don't really need a whole room for an office since neither of us work from home. I'll post pictures of the office nook once it's finished. Ok... I lied. I'll post a pic when stage 1 of the office nook is done. I imagine it will have a few different stages as we determine our true office needs. For now we plan to have a desk, computer, and our printer there. We will see what else we end up with.

My plan is to keep track of all the changes by posting about them here. We will see how successful I am with that.

That's it for the positive stuff keeping us busy. Unfortunately, there have been some not-so-positive issues happening too. Our pipes burst downstairs and completely destroyed the downstairs bathroom and entry hall. The bathroom needs to be gutted and the ceiling needs to be replaced in the entry hall. We are having a little communication issue with our homeowners insurance at the moment, but we hope they will get it together and get things done really soon.

We also did our taxes and found out that we owe Uncle Sam quite a bit of money. We have never owed before in either of our lives. It was quite a shock. Turns out, my new job as a teacher (and the sad little salary that comes with it) was enough to push us into a her tax bracket. And I can only claim a maximum of $250 in classroom expenses on my taxes. I literally laughed at our accountant when he said that. My mother has spent more than that on my classroom this year. We won't talk about how much I have spent. Let's just say it's a multiple of $250 and leave it at that.

Today is not the day for another teaching related rant. :)

Besides all of that, we are all healthy and in one piece, so we really can't complain. I'm looking forward to March and the fun times up ahead. Our parish is a very proudly Irish parish which means we are looking forward to an epic Saint Patrick's Day celebration as well as the Saint Joseph's feast. This month is also my last month before spring break and the last month before we begin our adoption classes! I don't have to tell you how excited I am for those things. :)








Monday, February 16, 2015

Lent 2015

Yes, Lent is upon us again.

Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday. I even bought a king cake to share with my first grade team for the occasion. I had originally planned in making one, but that kind of went out the door after I realized how much work I need to get done today to be ready for class this week. Honestly, I don't think anyone will be upset that the king cake isn't home made. Free cake/pastry is typically a crowd pleaser in any form. :)

I am actually really looking forward to Lent this year and the season of sacrifice and penance. This school year has been incredibly hard on me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My hope is that I can use this season of Lent to refocus on what is important in my life and let go of those distractions which rob me of my happiness.

This brings me to what I plan to give up. I spent a good deal of time trying to think of something that would challenge me to really focus in a God over the next forty days and get me away from this "poor me" attitude I've been sporting. As a result, I've chosen two different "sacrifices" for myself.

1. I'm giving up take-out food/treats. - I chose this one in an effort to give me an opportunity to focus on my bad habit of laziness and apathy when it comes to food. My husband and I both work full time and have fallen into a bit of a rut where we order pizza or pick up fast food way too much - at least three times per week. Neither one of us have been making good, conscious choices about what we are choosing to fuel our bodies and, combined with stress from work, our health is suffering because of it. Hopefully, by the end of Lent this sacrifice will have helped me reconnect with my love of cooking and the heart of service inherent in cooking for those I love, as well as a more mindful approach to eating and my/our health.


2. I am giving up 40 minutes of my day for quiet time/daily devotion/prayer. - This Lenten sacrifice was actually a suggestion from one of my parish priests after a conversation about my struggles this year. It is a practice I have wanted to establish for myself for years, but for whatever reason it has fallen by the wayside. It's easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day demands on our time and forget to spend time just being still and quiet to listen to God. My plan is to begin by keeping a prayer journal (since writing is my thing) and reciting the Rosary each day. I might change it up and go to adoration or read a book about a specific saint or the Pope. No matter what, it will be time away from Facebook, TV, Pinterest, other people not focused on prayer and reflection, where I can spend time listening to and learning about God.



Of course we will also be abstaining from meat of Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. I'm very much looking forward to the Friday Fish Fry hosted by the Men's Group each week and stations of the cross in the sanctuary afterward. The first will be a great way to fellowship with other parishioners (like the awesome new friends we made at the new parishioner dinner party our parish priests hosted last week) and the latter will help with keeping our focus where it needs to be during this Lenten season.

What are you doing during Lent this year? Are you making any Lenten sacrifices? Do you like king cake?

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Magic pipes

There were bagpipes at Mass this morning. A legitimate bagpipe player in a full dress kilt played for the recessional and I couldn't help but tear up. It was the most amazing and beautiful end to an incredibly moving Mass.

I honestly have no idea whether the other parishioners were as impacted as me during the service today because I was in my own little world. I was having one of those experiences where you feel like God has come into the building specifically to talk to you.

You see, I've been hiding at home for a few weeks and avoiding Mass. I was ashamed to go there and interect with God because of the way I was feeling about work. I feel very strongly that I am teaching, and teaching where I am, because God purposefully lead me there. I see it as a calling and a type of mission work. All of these issues I have been having at work have left me feeling like I have let God down, like I'm not working hard enough to do what he has asked of me.

Today's Mass reminded me that God never asked me to do this work in my own power. He asked me there so he could use me, not so that I could do something spectacular on my own power. In staying away I was effectively cutting myself off from the very strength I needed in order to do what needs to be done.

I left church this afternoon feeling more free and light than I have in weeks. I feel ready to tackle this week ahead. I feel renewed in my dedication to serving these kids that have been placed in my care and ready to get back to the kind of teaching I'm proud of. Most of all, I am reminded that I am not alone and that this struggle has a specific purpose.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Limits

I have come to realize that part of being an adult is understanding the shortcomings of others and dealing with the resulting frustration in healthy, reasonable ways.

In other words, grown ups don't throw hissy fits.

Some days it is more tempting than others. And I will admit that from time to time I have been known to forget myself and throw one with some foot stomping thrown in for good measure.

Today has been one of those days.

Being a teacher is hard. Being a teacher in a school where half of the kids don't understand you (they literally do not speak the same language) is hard. Being in any profession where there are no clear expectations set, yet reprimands for not meeting the unknown expectations are harsh and brought swiftly is hard. Being responsible for the safety and intellectual development of a child (much less 25 children) for eight hours a day is hard.

All of these hard things are usually held in check by passion for what I do, love of the kids themselves, and a sense of purpose from my work. On days like today, those things are no match for the challenges. On days like today I sit in my classroom and cry during my planning period because all of the hard stuff attacked me all at once.

So, here I sit this afternoon with a bottle of root beer and a slice of stuffed crust pizza. Tonight I will wallow and pout during my pity party. Tomorrow I will pick myself up, put myself back together, and dive head first into another day. This job, this life, is hard, but it's what I asked for.