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


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.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Excuse me while I go hide

So far 2015 is really not my year.

No, seriously. In the last 22 days I have broken my toe, caught the flu, developed sinusitis, an ear infection, temporary hearing loss (two days of no sound at all and going on four days of sound in only one ear), and today I had a chunk of my pinky finger gouged out by a rusty screw sticking out of  the railing outside my classroom. That last one required a trip to urgent care for a tetanus shot since I couldn't remember the last time I had one.

You know you've had a rough turn lately when you are on a first name basis with the nursing and administrative staff at your local urgent care.

A friend of mine recently suggested that maybe 2015 is getting all of my bad luck out of the way so that the rest of the year can be super extra fabulous. I am choosing to believe her rather than resign myself to another 343 days of bad luck. I've got some things going on this year that could use a little good luck and positivity to back them up.

Anyone else not super thrilled with the new year so far?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lalala... I can't hear you!

Just in case you were wondering, temporary hearing loss sucks.

I've been getting over this bout of the flu and developed an ear infection over the weekend. As painful as that was, the pressure from the sinusitis brought on by the flu combined with pressure from the inflammation due to my ear infection caused me to go temporarily deaf. It freaked me out!

I went to the doctor and got some medication meant to knock out the infection, reduce the inflammation, and relieve the pressure in my sinuses. He said that once the medication starts working my hearing should return. Let's all cross our fingers for that.

As you can imagine, I can't teach if I can't hear. Not to mention all that pressure making me dizzy. I'm home for one more day to rest and give the medicine time to work it's magic. This makes a full week I have been out of work and I seriously miss my students. I shudder to think what they think might have happened to me. Last time I missed school for two days my kids thought I had been deported! 

Moral of the story: get your flu shot and wash your hands! 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

For those too polite to ask... And those who have asked

People are naturally curious. They just are. This curiosity increases tenfold when the subject matter relates to friends having or not having babies. In recent weeks Steve and I have been in the receiving end of many many questions regarding our plans for growing our family. Some of the questions were insensitive and borderline rude, but I truly feel that none of the people asking those questions had malicious intentions.

I decided that it might be helpful for me to write about some of these questions and answers here on the blog. If anyone reading this humble post in my small, non-publicized corner of the internet would like to ask a question I haven't answered here, I would be happy to provide an answer.

1. Why aren't you doing IVF/IUI/ISCI/ other artificial reproductive methods to get pregnant?

Short answer: It doesn't feel right for us.
Long answer: Before we became Catholic, before we were actively trying to conceive, before we were married, even before we were engaged, Steve and I had serious discussions about having children. I've always wanted to be a mother... more than I've ever wanted to be anything else. During those discussions we both agreed that we were uncomfortable with artificial reproductive technologies (ART) in general. As we became aware of our infertility we put some time into researching ART in more detail. We even looked into NaPro Technology (assisted reproductive services approved by the Catholic Church) and came to the same conclusion... it just doesn't feel right. At the end of the day, we feel that if we were meant to have biological children we would be able to conceive them without artificial assistance.

2. Why aren't you adopting a baby?

Not to sound repetitive, but it just doesn't feel right. We initially looked into domestic infant adoption and actually contacted a few agencies for information. We met adoptive families and even birth mothers who had been helped by DIA, but we were still hesitant. When I realized that there were so many children waiting for families, kids old enough to realize what was going on and desire a family, I felt a sort of kinship with those kids. Here we were wishing for kids to grow our family, and there they were wanting a family to help them grow and heal. Something just clicked and suddenly our path seemed quite clear.

3. Why did you choose U.S. Foster care over international adoption?

To put it simply, international adoption scares the poop out of me. I know people who have spent years and tens of thousands of dollars on waiting lists to adopt from various countries only to be told they can't bring their child home for political reasons. I also know that the travel requirements for international adoptions aren't something Steve and I can realistically accommodate. Not to mention the huge financial costs upfront. Any child, no matter how they join your family, is expensive. International adoption is by far one of the most expensive though. It's a fit for some people, but not for us.

4. You're young, why not wait and see if you get lucky and conceive naturally anyway?

Because Steve and I feel like this is the right time to expand our family. We would always be open to a little miracle if one should come our way, but we feel that adoption is the right choice for us no matter what the future holds.

5. Whose fault is it? (Meaning which one of us is causing our infertility)

This is the one question that truly gets under my skin. Probably because the answer accomplishes nothing positive. I'm willing to believe that the people asking this are simply trying to help, but the only answer I will give here is this: Nobody is at fault. Since we have chosen not to pursue medical intervention for our infertility, it truly doesn't matter which of us would require treatment.

6. Don't you worry that those kids from foster care will hurt you/your pets/your home? Don't you worry that they are too damaged to love you back?

No. I don't worry about those things.
Yes, really.
I acknowledge that the harm to myself or our home is a minute possibility, but a risk I'm willing to take for a child who needs a safe, stable, loving home. We are taking all possible steps to protect our pets. We are not considering profiles of children with a history of violence toward animals.
Honestly, this adoption is not about finding a kid or group of kids who will love us. It's about finding a kid/kids we can love and care for. Of course we want their love in return, but that's not something that we get to decide about. It's not something even biological parents get to decide about their kids. All we can do is love these kids the best we can with what we have and hope for the best.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The flu and an update

I'm writing from my sick bed.... I've got the flu. Apparently I've had it for the last two days and did myself (and my students) no favors by pushing through the last two days of school thinking it was just a cold. I'm on strict orders from my doctor to rest in bed, take my medicine, and drink lots of fluids until Tuesday.

I'm not a bed rest kind of girl. I already feel like I should be up and about doing something productive.

I have to say though, I feel like I have passed some sort of new teacher initiation test by making it through yesterday at school. We had an assembly during which I had to make a presentation, we had breakfast and lunch in the classroom, my class was scheduled for "extra learning time" instead of specials, it was too cold to go out for recess, and four busses were late so I had to stay with my kids until the busses showed up. I was "on" from 7:30-3:10 with no bathroom break, no lunch break, and all while battling through the flu. My doctor said I was lucky I didn't pass out. I feel pretty proud of myself for making it through.

Despite being sick and the craziness of yesterday, I have some happy news to share! Our agency emailed me yesterday with the IMPACT class schedule and I was able to reserve a spot for Steve and I. Classes don't start until April, which is a bit disappointing. We had hoped the Saturday classes would be held starting in February, but it just didn't work that way.

Our last class is actually during my birthday weekend, so I'm taking that as a sign that everything is going to be just fine.