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.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Where did the time go?


I couldn't help myself...

In all seriousness though, I don't understand how tomorrow is May 1st. I'm not doubting that May comes after April. My mind is simply blown that the end of the school year is so close. 

It seems like not that long ago I was cheerfully decorating my classroom and wondering what my first group of students would be like. With all of the shark pictures, nonsense songs, and lessons that turned into projects I simply lost track of time and now here we are at the end. Well, 16 days from the end to be specific.

All 26 of my kiddos are going to second grade. Every last shark lover is moving on to the next grade and a new teacher. I'm so crazy proud of those kids. They worked hard this year!

I have some really fun things planned for them in the next three weeks. Some are school-wide and some are just me.
- STEM day (all morning doing various STEM projects)
- Field Day (including a parade and MAYBE popsicles if the freezer is working)
- publishing party (we invite all the parents out to our trailer and each child presents the piece of writing they are most proud of this year)
- Awards and Honors day (all the traditional awards plus some silly ones I came up with)
- balloon pop countdown with special activities in each balloon (one for each day the last three weeks)
- the Spring Carnival
- Art day (spend the morning doing art projects of different kinds)

I may or may not have secured gummy sharks as a special treat on the last day of school too. I can't wait to see their faces!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

moving forward

As National Infertility Awareness Week comes to a close, I find that I'm feeling more supported than ever. I wasn't sure I wanted to "out" myself on facebook since my statuses on there get much more traffic than this blog, but I am so glad I did. Several friends reached out to me through private messages to share their stories with me and offer encouragement. It was more than I could have asked for when I first decided to open up about our struggle.

Earlier this week I spoke with our doctor and received our final diagnosis and an initial treatment plan. My CD3 blood work came back normal, but my HSG showed a blocked right Fallopian tube. This, in addition to the high prolactin, is what my doctor believes has led to our infertility.

So, the plan right now is to just continue my medication and charting until June and then recheck my levels. Fingers crossed for good things to happen in the next few months!

Completely unrelated, but also significant: We only have four weeks left in the school year. Holy crap! I'm just four short weeks away from finishing my first year of teaching and sending my little firsties on to second grade.

I had my end-of-year meeting with my principal and found out that I will be teaching first grade again next year. I will still be in a trailer classroom, but I'm moving into one on a hill with windows and some beautiful purple irises planted outside. I am definitely not complaining!

As you can tell from my pinterest feed, I am already looking into ways to improve things for next year and get more organized. This summer I will be hunting through Goodwill and Craigslist for free or super cheap items to help me organize my kids' work and my teaching materials. I may highlight some projects here on the blog.

I am also putting together my end of the year plans to make it extra special for my kiddos. These awesome little ones will always have a very special place in my heart for being my very first class and I want to send them off to summer vacation (and their future educational career) in a big way.

There will more than likely be gummy sharks.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

National Infertility Awareness Week - You are Not Alone!

This week, April 19-25, 2015, is National Infertility Awareness Week. It's a week to highlight a disease which effects over 7 million people in the United States alone. Yes, I said people. Infertility effects men and women equally.


Although infertility is a medical condition with various causes and treatments, arguably the worst part about it is the emotional impact. :
You feel guilty for not being able to give your spouse the family you both dreamed of.

You feel ashamed of your body for not working the way it should.

You feel helpless while you watch your spouse suffer through guilt and inadequacy over a condition over which they have no control.

You feel isolated because your friends are gleefully posting pictures of their children and pregnancy announcements on Facebook while you sit back wishing and praying for your turn.

You also feel embarrassed because talking about sex and reproduction is a bit of a taboo subject in our society. Nobody wants to hear about your reproductive parts unless you have tanned and waxed them for the purpose of selling things. But that's a discussion for another day....

My point here is that so many couples dealing with infertility suffer through their treatments silently with no support. They either don't know how to bring it up or are afraid of what others will say when presented with such sensitive information. I stayed quiet about our struggle for exactly those reasons. But, the truth is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

If you suffer from infertility, you are not alone. It is nothing to be ashamed of. There are people ready and willing to support you. Including me.

You are not alone.

Friday, April 17, 2015

testing, testing, 1..2..3..

The theme of this month seems to be testing. Not only am I going through additional aspects of fertility testing, but my school is preparing to conduct our Georgia Milestones exams for third, fourth, and fifth grades. It's the test that is replacing the CRCT for those of you familiar with Georgia's schools.

If the practice tests taken earlier this month are any indication, students all across the state are about to collectively lose their minds. This test is HARD.

Still, we are doing our best to build up the kid's self-esteem and confidence as they prepare for these tests. 

My kiddos will not be taking part in the GA Milestones, but they will be enduring another related test. The four hour bathroom-free test. Nobody is allowed in the halls during testing for any reason, so my kiddos will have to last the entire morning at school without any access to a bathroom. I'm already stockpiling paper towels and spare uniform bottoms as a precaution. It could get ugly in our trailer over the next two weeks.

Personally, I'm grateful that my fertility testing is beginning to wind down. I had cycle day 3 blood work done earlier this week and I had my HSG done earlier today. Necessary though it was, that was a seriously uncomfortable procedure! This coming from someone who has been told by multiple surgeons that I have a high tolerance for pain. OUCH! Even hours later, STILL ouch!

Part of that may have to do with the fact that my nurse informed me (as I was laying on the table in radiology in nothing but a hospital gown) that they were out of catheters sized for women who had never given birth. They had to use a larger than normal catheter to inject the dye as a result. 

The radiologist doing the procedure's exact words to me were "about 90% of the time catheters this size simply won't work on women who have never given birth, but we will give it the old Girl Scout try".

Umm... ok? 

I repeat... OUCH!

My doctor should have my results by Monday so we are all keeping our fingers crossed for happy news. This girl is not in the mood to hear that I need any kind of surgery. 

Steve says he kept smelling incense like they use at church while I was getting the procedure done and he is taking that as a positive sign. I'm clinging to his optimism and my prayer journal.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

budgeting and being a responsible adult

Yeah... it's still sunshine and rainbows over here.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled internet time for a PSA about being fiscally responsible.

You see, the husband and I sat down and took a long, hard look at our finances this past weekend and the results were sobering. We took some heavy financial hits last month between paying taxes (least favorite adult milestone ever) and coming out of pocket for our fertility testing. In fact, those things are what prompted the review in the first place.

I'm not ready to call them blessings yet (even ones in disguise), but they were the heads up we needed to realize we were about to jump off a financial cliff.

We went through our bank statement line-by-line to determine where our money was being spent and realized we spent an OBSCENE amount of money on food. The only category that surpassed our spending on food was the giant portion dedicated to paying on our debts. By the time we finished we were well into the red.

I was also seeing red.

I got so mad at myself for being so careless when it came to sticking to a budget. I was mad for overspending and for being wasteful when I was not raised to be that way. I'm a smart woman. I should be able to follow a budget.

So.... I have had a fire lit under my bum to be more frugal and more mindful of how we use our resources. Not just money either. Money is obviously a big one, but time is another resource I feel might not be spent as wisely as possible. I was raised by some truly amazing people, men and women alike, who knew a thing or two about being frugal and making the most off a limited amount of resources. There is very little I can't DIY.

That being said, I am putting my money where my mouth is and changing up the way we do things around here. "Here" as in my home and life as well as "here" meaning this blog. I'm going to be taking steps to reduce our spending, increase our resourcefulness, and aggressively chip away at this big debt monster we have created. Throughout the process I hope to share successes (and less-than-successful efforts) here on the blog. After all, who doesn't like saving money?

If you've got tips on being a responsible adult, please share. If you suck at adulting like me, then feel free to commiserate. No judgement here.