Sunday, August 2, 2015

an unexpected 10 year reunion

This weekend something pretty huge happened.

For those who don't know, when I was in elementary, middle, and high school I had a group of friends... two girls who were my absolute best friends on the entire planet. We did everything together. We had a weekly small group bible study meeting at church together starting in 6th grade. I have very fond memories of going to football games, having sleepovers, countless church events.... even prom. My first job was with one of those girls and we all went on an incredible road trip the summer after senior year.

It was the kind of friendship teen sitcoms are made of.

Unfortunately, our friendship didn't survive the transition into college and adulthood. Even though one of those friends came to the same school with me, things happened and our friendship ended rather painfully.

This was back in 2006 and I hadn't spoken to either of those women since then. Until yesterday.

My high school reunion was held last weekend and, though I didn't go, the event seemed to have sparked nostalgia for more than just me. One of the women I had been friends with reached out to me via Facebook and asked if we could meet to catch up. Curiosity and the little pieces of my heart still missing that friendship wouldn't let me say no.

We met at a local coffee shop near my house yesterday and ended up talking for four hours. Not just surface things, but genuine discussion including an honest and frank conversation abotu the things that ended the friendship all those years ago.

Apologies were given, explanations were provided... I never realized how badly I needed those things until they were given.

There was no bitterness and no blame handed out... it was just two people who had grown up making amends for the stupid and hurtful things they did when they were younger. Although I am sad that I will likely never reconcile with the other friend in our former trio, I know now to never say never.

We have made plans to meet up again and both expressed a desire to get together regularly now that we have cleared the air.

Knowing that a friendship can come back even after almost 10 years of icy silence has given my heart an incredible lightness and filled me with a sense of overwhelming peace. It's almost like God is showing me his incredible ability to heal and to trust him. With all the things in my life lately, I definitely needed the reminder.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Back to school, Back to school....


I'm not even kidding. I've already raided the Target $1 section for classroom materials and begun planning what changes I want to make in my classroom routine for this year. I even bought a laminator.

A very sweet and dear friend of mine, Kate from Kate's Recipe Box, sent me a classroom care package earlier in the summer full of goodies she thought I would be able to use. I'm now the proud owner of a calendar set, weather bulletin board materials, an alphabet banner with picture and word cues, and a few other very helpful things I'm looking forward to using. Thanks, Kate!

I think I mentioned before that I am in a new classroom this year. It's still a trailer (we gained 15 new ones this year and an entire grade level moved outside; indoor space is at a premium), but this one is rather nice, as far as portable classrooms go. Unlike last year, this room has two windows that can be opened for fresh air, a storage closet, and well maintained stairs with no splintery or pointy parts. It's also much closer to the building entrance which means less time out in the elements for the kiddos and me and is the only other trailer classroom whose heating/cooling system didn't malfunction last year.

It also has a lovely patch of irises planted on the parking lot end that bloom after spring break. :)

My grade level team was proactive and created a curriculum map during post planning, so I have been able to begin lesson planning already. That's a HUGE improvement over last year when I had no idea what we were doing until halfway through pre-planning.

On Friday of this week I am actually meeting with another member of the first grade team to do some longitudinal planning and I am really excited. This teacher is moving up from Kindergarten and is one of four new faces on our grade level team. She has a lot of excitement over the grade level change and, of course, I'm always happy to work with anyone who has a good attitude.

We are launching the Daily 5 as a grade level initiative this year and I will be putting forward a structural plan for math as well (more on that in another post). I have a good feeling about this organizational structure for our students and I really think we are going to see them make incredible amounts of progress this year.

Last but certainly not least, I'M GETTING iPADS FOR MY CLASS!!! Yes, that needed to be in all caps. The district is providing 5 iPads for my classroom use this year and I'm so happy I danced a little happy dance when I got the email telling us about it. Some of my fantastic teacher friends provided me with a long list of apps to look into or my kiddos, so you can bet I will be doing some exploring once I'm in my classroom for pre-planning.

To my fellow teachers: I hope you are getting excited for the next school year as well!

To my fellow teachers who teach in the north where nobody starts school until Labor Day: Sorry for the heart attack. :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Send me someone to Lava

The last few days have been a bit rough around here. Not gonna lie.

We hadn't heard from our agency in a while after submitting some paperwork and this afternoon I found out why. The person they told us to email our paperwork to left the agency and never passed on our information. Our paperwork has been sitting in her inbox for a month. Nobody knew it was there.

So, thank God I'm obsessive and called about it. I spoke with a very helpful woman who helped right the wrong and get us on the right track. I'm still seriously annoyed that an entire month was essentially wasted though. This is a long process in general and the idea of adding more time unnecessarily makes me annoyed.

None of this really helped my emotional state. Yesterday a particularly nasty little thought hit me and I've been desperately trying to recover ever since... I got to thinking about all the things I'm missing out on in my kids' lives and started wondering how many more will pass before I get to bring them home.

See, I told you it was particularly nasty. Just the kind of thought to rip your heart to shreds.

Speaking of heartache and raging emotions.... if you haven't seen Inside Out, you need to go. Right now. I'll wait...







It's amazing, right!?!?!?

Honestly though, my favorite part was the animated short Lava they showed before the movie. That song has been with me in my head since I saw it on Saturday. It's almost haunting. And it completely fits how I feel in my heart about this adoption.

"I have a dream
I hope will com true
That you're here with me
and I'm here with you
I wish that the earth, sea, the sky up above
will send me someone to lava"

Lava, of course, meaning love rather than molten earth. :)

I plan to buy Inside Out when it arrives on Blue Ray simply so I can own this animated short. It's that moving to me. The feature movie is great too though, so.... bonus.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

OOOh, burn!



I guess it's officially summer vacation. Steve and I received our first sunburn of the year!

We spent the day at my parents' house yesterday with my mom, my younger brother and his wife, my older brother, and his girlfriend. It was such a relaxed day. We grilled some burgers, played with my mom's new puppy, and then made our way down to the pool.

Now, despite Steve donning SPF 50 waterproof/sweatproof sunscreen, he got the worse burn of the two of us. I put on my usual SPF 30 suntan lotion in an attempt to get some color. Yeah, I know. The joke is on me.

The funny part is, I'm only burned on my shoulders, chest, and a tiny bit on my cheeks... the places where I notoriously forget to apply sunscreen or don't apply enough. Poor Steve is practically a lobster from the waist up.

Last night was spent putting aloe and after sun moisturizer on our burns.

We are staying inside today in order to avoid making things worse. Make no mistake though, we will be back out and enjoying the pool in our neighborhood as soon as the redness fades to a tan!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

everyone loves a good analogy

Dear friends, it's been an interesting week (or two).

The school year ended (with many conflicting emotions on my part), my summer officially began (with many conflicting emotions on my part), Steve had a birthday, and we completed a step toward adoption. With those things has come a sense of restlessness... a desire to keep moving forward and another overwhelming desire to beg for answers from the almighty.

In all of this, I came across an analogy which has given me some much needed peace and perspective. Not just in my current circumstances, but in my relationship with God in general. (initially it was much shorter than this, but I expanded it) I'm sharing it with you guys because maybe it will help you like it has helped me. Or maybe you'll think I'm insane. Whatever... here we go:

Think of your life as a house you own. Then, think of God as someone you initially hired to do some small repair work in that house, handy-man stuff. Maybe a leaky faucet or a ceiling fan installation. Then, one day you call on him for another small repair and the next thing you know, he's torn down a wall and cut the power to the kitchen. You're pissed. He never cleared these plans with you. You never even saw a blueprint! You're convinced he is out to ruin your house and everything you've worked so hard for. When you call him on this, he just says "trust me, I'm giving you something better than you've ever dreamed of" and continues building seemingly random structures on your property and, in your opinion, making a huge mess of things. Sometimes so much has changed that you fear a full-out caving in of the whole thing.

What's worse, he keeps bringing people in and out of your house. Some of them are awesome and you hate to see them go, others stick around for a while and assist God in projects, while others seem to simply be there to cause destruction and make the mess infinitely worse. 

You consider kicking him out of your house so many times. You look at the wreckage and think "I can rebuild it from here" or "I can live with this level of destruction, but I can't risk any more". You yell at God and accuse him of being reckless with your house and being untrustworthy. You rage at him for seemingly ignoring your wishes. You keep telling him "I was happy the way it was" and complain to anyone who will listen about how he is bullying you. From time to time he tries to tell you about his plans, but you're so busy being angry you don't hear him speak.

Then, one day the dust of the demolition and construction starts to settle and you can begin to see the plan moving forward. You get little clues about the amazing things in store for you and you begin to see those random structures and ripped down walls as aspects of a new, amazing house full of features you never knew you wanted. The people he brought in and out start adding decorations to the inside and the gardens that you would have never thought to look for. 

You finally begin to understand that maybe God has a better handle on things than you thought, or that the destruction and mess might have been worthwhile after all. Although things aren't finished yet and it's still more messy than you would like, you stop yelling at God so much and even start asking him how you can help every now and then. You may not like the decisions he is making sometimes, but you've started to trust that there is a reason for each ripped out wall or ugly wallpaper print.

Like I said, that analogy brought me a lot of peace. I'm still currently in the middle of the destruction, but  think I'm beginning to see some parts of the design coming together. My conversations have started to become less accusatory and more of a give and take.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The End of the Beginning

The school year is officially over. Just two days of post planning left and we are free for summer break.

My first year of teaching is finished.

I am experiencing a huge amount of emotions over the completion of this year: excitement, relief, happiness, pride, but also sadness, and a bit of loss.

Excitement, happiness, and pride that my students all passed and are being promoted to second grade.

Relief from the stress of getting my teacher plans and organizational routines together.

Sadness and loss over the fact that it's well and truly over. It's been an amazing first year full of trials, triumphs, and trying new things. I worked so hard to get here and to give myself over to the experience that I find myself a bit unsure of myself now that I'm not pushing forward so intensely. I am also finding that my 26 students completely stole my heart this year and letting them go means sending pieces of my heart with them. It's a new and bittersweet feeling.

I'll admit, there are definitely things I would change about this past year and there are certainly things I wish I had done better. Now that there aren't new lessons to plan or kids and materials to organize for the immediate future, I find myself being quite reflective over the experience.

I also find myself unable to sleep for all the thoughts of next year and improvements to be made swirling around in my mind. Although I know I performed well and met or exceeded the expectations of others, I wouldn't be acting like myself if I wasn't looking for ways to do more or be better than I was.

And it isn't coming from a place of negativity. I think, more than anything, it comes from an inability to let go of this thing I care about so much. This is what happens, I guess, when you are lucky enough to live your passion. It completely consumes you every minute of every day whether you want it to or not.

To all the teachers partying over the end of the school year: Can one of you teach me to relax? My relaxation setting seems to be malfunctioning. :)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mother's Day

I remember in the years before I met my husband and the years before having children was something we were focusing on how I loved Mother's Day. I was obviously thankful for my own mother and grandmothers, but there was a gentle hopefulness about the day. It was a day when I was encouraged to daydream about my future family. I would think about what it would be like to spend the day with the little family we had created and how it would feel to be living out the deepest desire of my heart.

Clearly those dreams from Mother's Day past are still just that, dreams.

That gentle hopefulness of Mother's Day in the past has now been replaced with a not-so-gentle ache. A churning in my gut caused by the uncertainty regarding my future motherhood. This year it was so bad that I skipped church. I simply could not handle the festivities this year.

I do have a good feeling about next year though. It's a bit painful to let that tiny bit of hope take root, but it is there.

Today Steve and I bought beds for our future foster-adopt children. It seemed fitting to buy that kind of furniture on Mother's Day. I may not have my children in my arms, but they have been living in my heart all my life. I'm finally able to buy simple things like a set of sheets for them. A pillow for them to sleep on when they finally arrive.

It was an unexpectedly soothing task.

Such a simple thing in the grand scheme of things, but it brought me peace to be able to buy something for my child on Mother's Day. It was a little reminder that, although I am walking a difficult road, one day this part of the journey will be only a memory and a new and joyful journey will have begun.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you women out there. Those with children in your home and arms, those of you with children in heaven, those of you with children too far away to hug, and those still waiting for motherhood to find you.