Tuesday, December 30, 2008

I am thankful for...

Good girl friends and real conversation. A clean bathroom. Meals at home. Gift cards. An honest husband. An open house. My brother. Prayer. New curtains. Coffee. Facebook. North Carolina weather. Authenticity.

I need to...

Clean the house. Lose 10 pounds. Grade lots of papers (still). Stop eating chocolate. Put up new curtains. Be honest.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Day 7...Guilt sets in

It's been exactly a week of vacation, and I have now hit that point of shame. It's 1:40 and I am just now eating lunch after having had a leisurely breakfast with Lauree, reading for an hour and a half, and taking a nap. I have not done anything productive.

My husband has spent the past 4 hours on the couch. When, in horror, I ask him how he feels, he exclaims, "Great! I love vacation!"

I always go into vacation with high hopes of accomplishing great things: going to the gym regularly, grading all my papers, reading dozens of books, reconnecting with all my old friends. I'd return to work a skinny, organized, well-read social butterfly.

But in my other life at work, I grumble that I can't stay at home and vacillating between napping and reality television. I just can't be satisfied.

When I actually muster up the laziness to do sit around, I feel extreme guilt that I haven't saved a small child or redecorated our bedroom, both worthwhile things in my opinion.

Anyway, I ended up feeling like such a waste that I unloaded the dishwasher. I figured if the machine did all the work, I could at least put the dishes away. But this has reduced me to cursing the stupid thing for not actually washing our dishes. Instead, it has distributed the gunk from our plates to our cups and knives, forcing me to wash everything by hand. I'm not sure why we even use the darn thing anymore.

OK, Joel is now ready to move around. We're going to the gym and to run some errands and then I'll complain that I'd rather be at home watching reruns of What Not to Wear.

Friday, December 26, 2008

A couple of pictures:

Christmas updates:
Joel and I finally decorated our tree a few days ago:

We opened our presents to each other on Christmas Eve. I just got impatient!

We spent time on Christmas with our families and ate great food.
My mom got this picture from Nigeria framed for us:

Joel's mom gave us this tablecloth from Nigeria, which I think is awesome. We have some matching napkins that we'll actually frame, I think. They're just so bright and colorful, which is great because everyone knows how much I hate white walls!

My brother and I went to see Yes-Man last night, and it was surprisingly funny.

This Christmas, I've been so thankful (more than ever) for my husband. We've been married for 5 months today! I just love having our time during this vacation and holiday. We enjoy spending time with our family but then coming home together. I don't know...it's just wonderful.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"God has rarely given me an assignment that I considered to be in my league. Anything of priority in the Kingdom is out of our league. When we serve in our church, we must never forget that we are dealing with people’s lives—their internal struggles and eternal destinies. Sincerity and sweat do not always suffice. God places us in positions beyond our capabilities so that we will be at His absolute mercy, realizing that only He can succeed."

Words of wisdom from our favorite, Beth Moore.

This devotion was also very challenging.

Joel is at a friend's, so I've had the evening to myself. It's been
spent making homemade chewy caramels (they turned out wonderfully but were a pain to wrap individually!) and peppermint bark.

I have been really lacking the discipline to have quiet times daily, and I am thankful for tonight's extra time. I had no excuse. And I read some of Beth Moore's old online devotionals. I think I want to start a new Beth Moore Bible study. Know of any good ones?

I am excited about our first Christmas together. We used to have mixed feelings about holidays, because we barely saw each other in the flurry of family time. I think it will be really nice this year to have time with our parents but come back home together.

I used to be really cynical about Christmas. But I am realizing more and more how significant this time is. The hope of the WORLD, Jesus, was born. What a miraculous thing.

A lot of people have looked to Obama as the hope for our nation. Bumper stickers and TV ads and posters all advertise Obama as the change we need.

But this Christmas I understand more that without Jesus, we have no hope. We are fallen, sinful people. There is something so broken inside of us. And nobody, not even a president, can totally fix us. That change can't come from us. It has to come from Somebody perfect, and nobody is perfect except for Jesus. I think that I've really lost that lately, and never really celebrated that fact at Christmas. I am so undeserving of the grace He has given me but He freely gives. I pray that we can remember where we would be without the saving love of Jesus.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A couple of quick updates:

1) Joel and I bought a Christmas tree! We decided to go fake for our first Christmas, mostly because we didn't want the hastle of a real tree this year. But I love our tree! It's big and pretty, and we are going to decorate it today. I'll take pictures soon.

2) I'm on my way to meet Lauree, my old college roommate, at the airport. She is coming in from Seattle where she is working in youth ministry.

3) My brother is coming home today! He will be here sometime tonight. He's actually moving to NC in a few weeks, which I'm really excited about. He lives in Kentucky now, which is really too far away.

4) I saw the movie Expelled last night. It was really interesting. I think it made some valid points about the consequences of teaching intelligent design in a university setting. It is something I've thought about as a teacher. I do believe that God created the earth, and I'm ok not knowing exactly how that happened. I'm not ok with teaching my kids that there was no Creator. An elementary school isn't exactly the height of academia, and I don't teach the specifics of science. But kids certainly ask lots of questions.

5) Just got word that Lauree is still in Seattle and her flight was cancelled. Bummer!

I think I'm going back to bed then...

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sobered, thankful, etc.

Yesterday my "troubled" student got in a fight at recess and got suspended. At the end of the day. Right before Christmas break.

He missed our party today.

After school, I tagged along with our principal to drop off some gifts in the neighborhood our poorest kids come from.

And that's why I'm sobered, because my students (at least 4 of them) come from homes with drug trafficking, single parents, prostitution in the neighborhood. I walked up to one of the apartments and could smell the smoke...the not cigarette smoke. My kids are surviving, fending for themselves, doing the best they can. And I was heartbroken.

But my principal reminded me not to feel pity. I can be compassionate and understanding of where they come from, but if I feel sorry for them, I'll give them excuses. And what I really want is for them to meet my high expectations, not to settle, and to get out of their surroundings. I tell my "troubled" student to "leave it at the door". His life is pretty terrible, but he can't bring it with him everyday. He won't go anywhere with it. I just pray that I can be a teacher that inspires them to know they are better than that.

I have no idea what's best for them. But what I have is tools for them to get to the next grade (hopefully) and sometimes I think it's all I've got left. I need to remember that I have Christ's love in my heart, and that pushes me to push them to be successful.

Today, I was so thankful to my kids for the sweet presents they gave. My poorest kids brought in a handpicked present. So sweet.

Joel and I have a dining room table COVERED with chocolates and breads and candy canes...so if anyone wants a snack, let me know!

We also got some nice gift cards (which we've split) so we can buy some new clothes and go out to eat. We're so thankful.

It was the handwritten notes from kids ("Mary Cristmas Mrs. Orr!") that were really touching. And the big hugs as they left. This week reminded me why I wanted to be a teacher.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I feel like everyone should have a place where they can go...a really quiet, still spot when things don't make sense.

I've had this place for a while...since high school. Ashley and I found it on a run one day. The thing is, a lot of people actually go to this spot but for some reason I like to think it's all mine.

(It's like when I was a little girl and my parents took me to Rotary Park. I guess I was in that stage when everything was mine, and I used to ask to go to "my park." My parents called it my park all the time after that.)

This place is really special to me. There is a stream, an offshoot from Shelley Lake, off the paved path and into the woods. It's not really secluded, but it's hidden enough that I feel protected there.

I don't think that God is in the trees or the water or the rocks, but I think they "cry out" of His wonder and beauty. His creation tells of His greatness and I sometimes need that place to remind me that He is bigger than all of this.

I've come to a humbling place this weekend and it needed to happen. I've let a lot of relationships almost run into the ground and I've lied to myself and believed that as a Christian I have freedoms, when really I used it as a license to sin.

Today, there was a man riding his bike along this path. There was a woman standing on rocks in the middle of the stream, playing with her dog. There was a couple, sitting on slabs of stone amid the water, huddled together, eyes closed, heads down. I guess a lot of people need this place, too.

And this stream is always flowing. And running along it reminds me of the Living Water, that eternal spring that is promised to us. And I know that the Lord is merciful and loving and wants us to delight in Him and in His creation, especially in people.

I am never cured after going to that place. But it is the only thing I know to do when there is too much clutter, too much sin, too much ugliness in me and I need a serenity that only comes from stillness before the Lord my God.

The husband has been sick since last night. We think he has some mild food poisoning. (Please pray.)

We have had some serious discussions and made some exciting/challenging decisions. I like being a "we."

We have the Lord. We have Him first because if there is one thing I know, it’s that our relationship can’t survive without Him. And we have a partnership together. And we may not have it all together and we may have a long way to go but Jesus has it all together and Jesus went all that way for us and that is the most comforting thing I could know, and I just realized it right this very second.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Yesterday was the anniversary of our engagement. We aren't huge on anniversaries, but this being our first big thing, we celebrating by...roasting marshmallows! Joel proposed to me when we were roasting marshmallows in the fireplace. He put the ring on the skewer and handed it to me, so when I took the skewer, the ring fell off in my hand!

I liked this picture of Joel:

I also made this thumbprint cookies. Joel LOVED them, and this evening they were all gone! So I made another batch.

(1 c. butter, 1/3 sugar/Splenda, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 c. flour, 1 egg. Mix all the ingredients, then roll into balls. Make a thumbprint that you can fill with jelly. I used blackberry jelly and some with honey. The honey isn't as pretty but it's delicious.)

I made them about 30 minutes ago and there are....6 left.

This evening I also took a Zoomba and a Belly Dancing class at the Y. It was a-mazing. I loved it. Especially Zoomba because the Lord blessed me with some hips and I need to learn how to move them.

Next up: homemade salsa, classroom frustrations, classroom victories. Stay tuned!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

My "Bad Day" letter

A few weeks ago, a sweet little girl named Egypt wrote me this letter. I keep it on my fridge and read it on bad days. I genuinely feel terrible about this week. It's amazing how I'm a grown-up now and have a college degree and have times when I lose control of 8 year olds.

But here it is for your reading pleasure (this has not been edited):

Title : Ms. Orr is Awsam
Ms. Orr you are the Best teacher I have ever had and I feel so bad for you when we give you a hard time because you be nice to us and we can't be nice back. You are smart and you make me smart thank you for the fun and for the kindness and I love when you let us go on the permetheyan [Promethean-our interactive whiteboard] and let us do thing that we what to do you say yes alot and that's what makes you so awsam when we are saposs to do 5 pink ticket [our reward system] you let us do i more or 2 more you are the Best. Sometimes you try to teach and we keep on talking what makes you get frustrated and all you want us to do is pass the grade listen and be smart so we can make good grades I hope you like Joyner and your class.

It's things like that that make me love my job.

Friday, December 05, 2008

I am in Survival Mode.

Today, while the hubs was getting a hair cut, I read this article.

And it really got me thinking about things.

I am inconsistent.

And I need to really push my students.

I have become exasperated so much this week. My management skills have been off. My organization (or lack thereof) has been affecting my teaching. And I need to get it together.

I have high hopes of being an engaging teacher that challenges her students.

But I need to remember three things.

1) I can only do this with God's strength.

2) I am in only the 2nd quarter of the first year.

3) I need to remember what's at stake here. And stop making excuses. And freaking do it.

Prayers welcome.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

End of the Week

1) Thanksgiving was great. Lots of food. Mostly relaxing. I couldn't sleep until about 12:30 Sunday night and read The BFG until I drifted off.

2) I taught division using marshmallows this week. How fun!

3) Parent conferences this week have been really in depth and I feel like it's my classroom and I am in charge of it.

4) Not sure how this happened so suddenly, but I'm back to my pre-student teacher weight and that's not ok. So I am going to go back on my teaching diet (which meant I was too busy to eat snacks and all my meals were extremely healthy). I went shopping tonight and...ugh...terrible. I hate letting myself go.

5) Last night my husband came back with yummy Whole Foods dinner, a rosemary tree (bush? plant.), and a Newsweek. How sweet.

6) Over the break, we bought pecans at the Farmer's Market, and I spent two whole evenings shelling pecans.

And then last night I made homemade granola.

Here's the recipe:

* 3 cups rolled oats
* 2/3 cup sliced almonds
* 2/3 cup chopped pecans
* 2/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
* 1/2 cup canola oil
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
* 1 tablespoon and 1 tsp. ground cinnamon and
* 1/4 molasses


1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
2. In a large bowl, stir oats, nuts and sunflower kernels together. In a separate bowl, mix together oil, honey, molasses, vanilla and cinnamon. Add to dry ingredients; mix well. Spread mixture onto two ungreased baking sheets.
3. Bake in preheated oven, for 10 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Return to oven and continue baking until golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before storing.

And here's a picture of the hubs and I on our first Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Sunday post.

I finally got all my Words Their Way books to start this program in my classroom. They all came last night, so I probably won't start till next week, but hooray! I think it will be a huge undertaking to start this alone, but I am excited to have some initiative.

Today was Grace Elizabeth's baptism. She was freaking adorable. I love babies. And I love friends that make things so much fun. Thank you, Laura, for still inviting us places even though we are way too loud.

Also, I can cross (almost) everything off my to-do list for this weekend. Thank the LORD! It feels so good to do that!

I have also come to the conclusion that I need to start building up a winter wardrobe that does not consist of college hoodies and long sleeve t-shirts. Just an idea.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


1) I am thankful for my husband. He is good at hugging and at eating my cooking even if he doesn't love it (I'm new at this thing). He also looks great in his Sunday best.

2) I have learned a lot about contentment. Not yet on how to be content, but on what I should be in regards to possessions. I'm not there yet. But Joel and I have reflected a lot recently on the work the Lord has done in us in regards to money. And we are so thankful for all that He has blessed us with.

"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content." 1 Timothy 6:8

But I invite discontentment into my life when I constantly compare myself to others or spend idle (dangerous) moments daydreaming about the house we could have.

Joel and I discuss this house often and how thankful we are for it. It meets our needs (price, location, space) and we decided that we will try stay here (God-willing) until we need to buy a house.

I am overflowing in thankfulness after taking Crown. We are on the same page now with money and we feel directed.

3) This was a question from Crown homework this week. I haven't answered it yet.

What would you say?

As you reflect on eternity, what three things do you want to accomplish during the rest of your life?

Things I am thinking about...

I have 13 minutes before I am going to go babysit for the funny little boy that danced with me at my wedding.

But I spent much of yesterday thinking about what distracts me, how different the Bible is from our culture, how sometimes I try to mesh it but I know it's different, and I know it is Life. I thought about contentment and trying to live a simpler life.

I thought about Mumbai and Sarala's dad who works there (and is fine, thank the Lord), and the worker trampled to death in Walmart.

I bought a new journal and found a nice pen and I am thankful for this.

the hubs and I went to the farmer's market yesterday and bought pecans in their shells, so I spent the evening cracking shells and dreaming about oatmeal raisin pecan cookies and pecan crusted chicken and other things that I will appreciate so much more now that I have cracked the shells myself :)

I have more to write about but, like I said, it's time to earn some money!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Winter Walk Playlist

One of my favorite things about cold weather is taking walks alone in the late afternoon as the sun is setting.

I am so thankful for the office park/walkway near our house. Joel went to the gym this afternoon, so I decided to go for a walk.

I'm also thankful for the iPod nano he got me as a wedding present (I LOVE it) and the songs he put on it. The shuffle function was at its best today. This might have been the best random playlist of all time.

1) Hellogoodbye-Oh, It Is Love: What a cheesy song but it always makes me smile.
2) AM& Tina Dico- While My Guitar Gently Weeps ( I am generally skeptical of all Beatles' remakes but I think this one is great.)
3) Beck-Lost Cause
4) Andrew Bird-Fake Palindromes (monstahs?)
5) Sufjan Stevens - For The Widows In Paradise; For The Fatherless In Ypsilanti (an all-time, top ten favorite)
6) Leona Lewis-Bleeding Love (my bachelorette party song :)
7) The Weepies-World Spins Madly On
8) Rufus Wainwright-Across the Universe ( I hate to say this, but I must. I love this version more than the original. Rufus' voice plus my favorite pondering lyrics...perfection)
9) Jimmy Eat World-The Middle (guilty pleasure but this used to be my "running song")
10) Avett Brothers- I would be sad ("I meant what I said when I said I would rearrange my plans and change for you"...sigh)
11) Unkle Bob-Put a Record On (we absolutely love this song)
12) David Mead-Nashville (Always reminds me of The Love Campaign)
13) Postal Service-Brand New Colony
14) Black Eyed Peas-Pump It
15) Chris O'Brien-Hey Love
16) Death Cab for Cutie-Title and Registration
17) Jars of Clay-Waiting for the World to Fall
18) The Strokes-Someday

Now taking suggestions for additions to the winter walk playlist...

Techno Tuesday

No, not that kind of techno.

I just realized my blog is extremely boring, so I thought I'd post some technology resources that I have discovered (or have been sent to me!) to the other teachers out there.

1) http://classtools.net/

This has a bunch of tools like an arcade game creator for reviewing concepts, a random name picker (I used this recently to pick chaperones for a field trip), timers and concept maps. I will definitely be using the paragraph concept map (the hamburger below) this quarter. They are all flash games/diagrams so you'll have to be able to use that.

Name picker:

Click here for full screen version


Click here for full screen version

2) http://www.wordle.net/

I put this on here before, but you could use this for class surveys. Example, What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?
The more times you put in a word, the bigger that word is. So:

(pie is my favorite)

3) www.unitedstreaming.com
You have to pay for it but my school has already paid so I use this ALL THE TIME.
4) http://online.culturegrams.com/
You have to pay for this too but if your school will buy it, it is great.

5) This website isn't flashy but we do a math minute everyday to practice fluency and I get all my worksheets for that here:

Hope that was educational :)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Creamy Pesto Pasta Recipe, among other notes.

New super easy recipe of the week :

-whole wheat penne
-chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins (to be sauteed)
-diced roma tomatoes
-half cup of pesto
-can of 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
-1/2 cup of milk

1) Boil the pasta

2)In a large frying pan, saute the chicken in canola oil, drain. You can cut up the chicken or leave it whole. In the same pan, add soup, milk, and pesto, and later the tomatoes. Boil for 5 minutes so that the sauce thickens.

3) Toss with pasta and eat...yum yum :)

This was super easy but it looked pretty with some caesar salad.

I'm so looking forward to this break. Joel and I can't wait to spend the next 5 days together and have a good rest. I might be getting sick...so I'm glad just glad to have this break.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I just wanted to say...

Jack Bauer is back.


Idleness and other thoughts

Warning Against Idleness
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat."

We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
-2 Thessalonians 3:6-13


She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
-Proverbs 31:27

Lately I have been extremely convicted of how much time I WASTE. It's like taking an hour and just flushing it down the toilet. This week I have really tried to be more organized at school, cook nicer meals, and really scrub the house down. I am also realizing just how I cannot do it all alone. So I am thankful for 1) The LORD who gives me strength and motivates me to take care of the things He has provided and 2) my husband who is such a good partner. I have tried to prioritize things better too, which has been helpful. I have tried to make lists of things that HAVE to be done and things I wish could be done.

I also am really wanting to make my classroom more engaging. Especially because some really bright students have been showing signs of boredom...and I can't let that happen. I am also thankful for a school that really supports new things I want to try and the ability to use technology in as many lessons as possible.

This has become the new facebook to me: http://allrecipes.com/

I am on this site daily and constantly finding new things to cook. I LOVE it.

So for this week, I'm looking forward to a short and ENGAGING week, and five days with my baby!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Today was a good day

School went smoothly today.

Truly, THANK THE LORD. I know tomorrow may bomb, but today, it felt good. The kids were well-behaved for the most part. We got good work done. We ended the day on a positive note.

I just need to record these good days to remember when other days aren't so good.

I did end the day feeling super yucky. Praise the Lord, my math group was cooperative and on-task so I was able to take it really easy. I literally couldn't stand up without feeling nauseous so I sat down and taught the lesson by saying, "Sarah, hold up what you've done so I can see it." I feel a little better now but I have been taking it super easy tonight. I have watched TV all night. Joel cooked dinner (yummy chili) and watched Jon and Kate Plus 8 with me.

(P.S. Did anyone else see her beautiful dress? My goodness. It was gorgeous.)

New recipe I love:
Thai Chicken Strips

* 2 tablespoons sesame oil
* boneless, skinless chicken sliced into strips
* Tablespoon hoisin sauce
* Tablespoon Creamy Peanut Butter
* 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
* soy sauce to taste


1. Heat oil in large skillet and cook chicken in canola oil until it is no longer pink, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add Hoisin sauce, peanut butter, sesame oil, and soy sauce Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce is bubbly and warm, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with scallions. Serve immediately.

I think you can add cayenne pepper too, but I forgot. Next time I'll try it. We ate this last night with the couscous salad and it turned out really well.

Off to daydream about traveling and get ready for tomorrow :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008


Sundays are usually crazy for us. We wake up early to go to the gym before church. Tomorrow we are serving in the nursery, then going to Meemaw's for lunch. We'll have some cleaning up and getting ready for the week to do in the afternoon before our Crown class. Dinner is usually a really quick, cheap meal after Crown. Like...89 cent frozen burritos and salad. It's nice to eat like a college kid sometimes :)

But I had this huge urge today to make a couscous salad for dinner tomorrow. So here goes:

* 1.5 cups chicken broth
* 1 cup uncooked couscous
* 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
* 1-2 roma (plum) tomatoes, thinly sliced
* Green onions, diced and diced white onions
* Olive oil and Balsamic vinegar
* garlic powder to taste
* salt and pepper to taste

Heat up 1.5 cups of chicken broth. Remove from heat and stir in a cup of couscous. Let stand for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. In a large bowl, stir in the garbanzo beans (chick peas) and everything else. I put in the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and kept adding more in as needed. I'm putting it in the fridge until tomorrow night. Hopefully all the flavors will blend together. I tried it, though, and it was yummy! And it really took about 15 minutes to make.

The end :)

more wordle

words from my blog.

Laura's blog

Psalm 119

John 17

Psalm 23

How fun :)

Wordle.net fun

I have cleaned the kitchen so many times since last night

My menu last night for my parents was rosemary breaded chicken, rosemary and olive oil potatoes (thanks Kelsi), green beans (mmm), and bread. I made a chocolate chip cookie bar (ish) for dessert.

After cleaning the kitchen, I decided to make pumpkin muffins for people that were coming over later last night.

We went to Foster's, then Village Draft House...and generally had a good time out.

The girls just left this afternoon after watching Drop Dead Gorgeous and having lunch.

I am so thankful for all the great kitchen and dinnerware we received from the wedding. It makes having people over 1) possible and 2) fun.

My hubs is with a friend all day, so I think I'll spend my evening grocery shopping, grading papers, doing my Crown homework and watching my favorite show of all time, Freaks and Geeks.

I really want to take a walk but it's getting scary today. Stormy and whatnot.

One thing I just realized...I really like looking around our house and outside. There are so many trees outside our back window. Looking out on our deck that is covered with firewood to the trees at the back makes me feel a little bit like I live in the woods or the mountains. I love it. I also love looking around and remembering trips we've taken, our families, friends, favorite books...it just makes me happy. I love it.

Ok...time to start the grocery list :) Oh to be an ama de casa.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I truly want these 2 children who come from crap homes with parents that are questionably doing the best they can- to get it together, stop screwing around, stop disrupting my class all the time, and freaking learn. And be on grade level. And not turn into the people in their neighborhood that do drugs and are in gangs at 14. Please Jesus. Please please please. Truly I want them to be so different.

(I hate that I suspended a child today. I want to cry. My heart hurts for him.)

Just being as honest as I can.

Currently I'm baking chocolate chip cookie bars (for my sweets craving and my parents who are coming for dinner tomorrow), trying to figure out a dinner for tomorrow night with limited ingredients, working on my IGP for my BT1 meeting (oh, acronyms), and watching great TV.

This is what I have in our kitchen:
tomato sauce
Curried kidney beans
cous cous
Northern beans
Green beans
homemade veggie soup
ground beef
chicken tenderloins
spinach leaves

Also...no more $ left for groceries this week in our budget.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More news about fun times.

I know I talk about the hubs all the time but oh well. my blog.

after watching eternal sunshine of the spotless mind approximately 3 years ago, i call him joelie. an awkward but endearing (to me) nickname. only i call him that. and he doesn't seem to mind too much.

so we decided to support our local chick fil a this evening for date night. because we can.

and then we had a 7:30 showing of madagascar 2 lined up (it was either that or zack and miri...just kidding...). we had some time to kill after wolfing down our chicken strips and new chik fil a sauce (crack in honey mustard form), so we strolled around tar-jay, dreaming about Christmas time, decorating (ok that was me), presents for our parents, and generally getting in the Christmas spirit. This is huge for me because I am normally a Scrooge until the week before. I've never enjoyed celebrating Christmas, you know, at Halloween. But this year, with the prospect of a bigger family, our own cozy bed, a fireplace and a joint bank account, the Christmas season can last as long as it wants! I love it. And joelie loves it. Which I love.

After buying our Reese's pieces, Whoppers, and Jelly Belly we decided we'd rather save our cash and finish The Dead Poet's Society. I've never seen it. Gasp. But he has. 20 times. So we watched it, I got sad. And then I posted.


So I have this friend...

One thing I LOVE love love about being married is that Joel is my best friend. And sometimes we honestly can't go to sleep because we are cracking each other up. Like telling jokes. Or singing Elton John songs off-key. Really, he just cracks me up. I doubt I crack him up as much. I love watching movies late at night, getting ice cream before bed, laughing for half an hour and thinking, is this my husband?? Because I just think I'm having a sleepover with my BFF.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Thank the Lord for some small blessings tonight.

I made a yummy chicken pot pie (thanks to Laura's easy recipe).
I had the privilege of babysitting Miss Grace Elizabeth and SHE SMILED ... a lot! It was so exciting! I was told to sing to her to quiet her down, and all the songs I could think of were Ben Folds songs (thanks Joel) and "Shake my sillies out." Hilarious. Glad there was no nanny-cam. Thanks L-Cat Rob for the opportunity to play with your sweet girl. It was a blast and definitely brightened my evening.

Then I got home and my sweet hubs ran outside to meet me at the car. I thought he had just missed me so much and wanted to hug me, but really he just wanted Goodberry's, which was a-ok with me because I LOVE spontaneous ice cream trips late at night. It makes me feel almost as adventurous as the time I danced a jig in a small (and by small, I mean 1 church, 2 pubs, and an inn) town pub in Spain.

I am a first year teacher

Well, this blog was supposed to be about beginning marriage and teaching.

So today I need to talk about my experience so far as a teacher.

Today was not fun. I wish I had that desire to teach all the time. But I have some serious troublemakers in my class. I have spoken with the principal and their 2nd grade teachers. I can't really go into details, confidentiality and all. But these kids aren't really new behavior issues. I spoke with the counselor about one student. It was affirming because I had thought that maybe it was just me, but she agreed that he has some serious things going on.

One of these students was supposed to start in a new school today. I spent Friday really preparing for his departure. There were some things I wished I had done differently with him. His new school is actually tracked out...so guess who showed up this morning?

Admittedly, I was shocked. I hadn't psychologically prepared for him to return. And while it's nice to have a bit of a second chance, the same problems that I thought would end today returned in full force.

These kids are SO defiant, so angry, so below grade level and sometimes so spoiled at home that school is just a completely negative place.

I want an overnight change. I know that can't happen. But this afternoon I broke down a bit. I had to leave the room and shed a few tears. I got it together, and I never want that to happen again. I just hope I'm really cut out for this.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

This weekend has been super busy. From Cornhuskin' on Friday to bachelorette festivities for Kathleen last night, I've been running around for a while! Joel and I spent some good time together after church today, including a massive meal from Bojangles.

We've been learning about work this week, and how to view it. And I need refreshment, a new attitude, love for my class and no partiality. I need the Lord to fill me up so I can give. I have just been working for a paycheck, for the weekend, for good test scores for my kids, but not always for the Lord. And I just desire joy and purpose so much at work.

I stumbled upon a blog that Laura, Joel and I had started three summers ago when we travelled (Joel to Turkey, Laura to California, and me to England), all to share the love of Christ with unbelievers. I remember the sweetness of being in the Lord's will and also the apprehension of what we would be doing. I remember the fire that occurred in the Istanbul airport the day Joel got there, and I remember seeing it on the news and not being able to talk to him (we weren't speaking then) and how I was terrified for him. But we knew we were in God's hands.

We knew our purpose was to minister to others. We worked, we rested in Him, we loved people. I wasn't perfect. I still felt young in my faith and my understanding of working for the Lord. But that excitement of meeting new people, seeing hearts turn to the Lord...I want that excitement now at school. And it's frustrating to look at this like a job, rather than a ministry. I need renewal in my soul.

We never actually wrote on that blog, which I regret. But this verse was at the top of the page. This verse was such a burden on my heart that summer.

"It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth." -Isaiah 49:6

I want to go somewhere. Every few weeks I get that itch to travel. I dream of new cultures, new foods, new relationships in new places. But I'm here now. Right where God has placed me. Oh, to have that same attitude at work. I know in my head that this is a ministry, a place to serve and love and grow, but that truth isn't written on my heart.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Day light savings...

...normally means 1 extra hour of sleep. Except I'm spending an extra hour grading.

After I graded the science tests, I started to organize all my reading and writing work samples except I realized I haven't really done this they way I should have this quarter....next quarter will be different.

Just as I started to grade, one student at a time, Joel and I decided to go for a walk. We were getting pretty antsy. We got back, and I cooked dinner. I finally used my rice cooker, and I loved it!! I made enough rice for a few days, so I can feel like I am eating "real meals" again. Growing up, we had rice almost everyday so I just wanted to have my normal meals again. We also bought white rice, like I'm used to, and not that yucky brown rice. I also made two loaves of Amish friendship bread before settling back to grading. I've finish all but three of my math grades and not I just have to plug them into the report cards and write comments for math.

I am watching the Duggar family show on TLC and Josh just proposed to Anna, and they are so freaking adorable but it is a little awkward watching other people right after they get engaged!

Ok, I have a little sore throat. If you could please pray that I don't get sick. Joel has been sick all week and I have been using Purell and Coldeeze like it's my job, but there's only so much you can do when you sleep in the same bed!

Why can't I just get it together?

Today hasn't been bad.

In fact, it's been really good. Joel and I woke up after 10, were lazy until 11 when he made pancakes and eggs and I drank coffee and looked up stuff for the local election. I tidied up a bit. Joel's mom stopped by and we chatted. We left around 1 to go the grocery store. We were 45 cents under budget. Eeek. We didn't get to the gym until close to 3, and stayed there for an hour and a half. By the time we got home and put away the groceries, it was after 5!

My plan of cleaning the house, grading the mountain of papers, starting report cards, and finishing (starting) our Crown homework before dinner went out the window.

I can't think of a day when I didn't feel completely scattered. It's like I can't focus on anything! I run around starting one project and then another and then cleaning the kitchen halfway before starting laundry and checking my email and....

I just wish my brain was organized.

Our house is cluttered. Not our room, really, but the living room and the guest room.

I just finished grading my science tests. I did them all in one go and now I'm going to work on grading writing. Then finishing math. Then social studies. Then putting it in one concise list so I can easily enter grades. I hope it works this way. I just ate a bunch of chips and queso so I should be good and not need dinner for a while. Joel's watching football, so I have no temptation to look up to see Jon and Kate Plus 8 :) My only distraction...the internet!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

4ish days and counting....

Please read this article:

Let me just say once more that I am pro-life, and generally a social conservative. So this has been a very difficult election for me. I have wrestled with this. A lot. We have tough moral decisions to make. I do not believe that everything is relative. I do believe in good and evil and that spiritual forces are at work all around us. I have limited understanding. We don't live in a black and white world. Often, issues are gray, for various reasons (read the post below). I think I have decided that voting for Obama would serve the greatest number of people, realistically. If I could specifically vote to overturn Roe v. Wade, I would, but that is a question for the Supreme Court IF a case ever goes to trial and IF the justices overturn it. But health care, peacemaking, combating racism and sexism, and helping not just the upper and middle classes but the poor (no matter what your opinion of how they got there) can happen RIGHT NOW. It's not ok for so many of our most important systems to be this broken.

This is a good article too: http://www.ryanbolger.com/?p=170

In case you didn't read the first article, here's a good passage from it:

"It is not easy to make an imperfect decision. It just doesn’t feel right to say to the state, “Please kill less”… as it still holds an imperative “Please kill.” However, ideals can keep us from working for “better.” We make imperfect decisions all the time. For instance, you may try to avoid the large corporate Home Depot and shop at the local hardware store but then find out that the hardware store owner beats his wife, thus further complicating things. We always need to make informed decisions, though we may not endorse things that are imperfect manifestations of kingdom values.

One way for people of so-called “privilege” to act in solidarity with the poor and marginalized is to ask folks in poverty who we should vote for. Another experiment for white folks in this election might be asking people of color who have suffered so much historically whether we should vote or who we should vote for — and to honor their struggle by submitting our voices with theirs.

One way to look at voting is that it is damage control -– not so much voting for something as it is voting against something worse. We must do everything we can to reduce the destruction done by the principalities and powers, and voting may be one way to do that. Being an agent of God’s kingdom, transformation means calling out the best that the state can do, and not expecting it to be our savior."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I read this on a blog from a pastor.
* Note: I don't think the pastor was just talking about illegal immigration. And I thought that maybe this was a church issue, not a government issue (or visa versa), but then so are all the other moral things we vote for. So it's just something to think about. Not saying I'm 100% behind this. It just made me think.

Voting as a Resident Alien

Rich Nathan
Congregational Email - October 2008

In the upcoming election, the question that ought to be on the hearts of all Christian believers is, "How should I approach my voting decision?" About 20 years ago, Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon wrote a book provocatively titled, Resident Aliens. Resident Aliens had to do with the way that we Christians understand our fundamental identity and our calling in contemporary America. The idea behind this title, Resident Aliens, came from a quote from the Apostle Paul: "But our citizenship is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20-21). In other words, our primary identity is not as Ohioans or Americans. We Christians are, first and foremost, citizens of the kingdom of God.

Hauerwas and Willimon argue that we must regain our vision of being a distinct community with a calling to be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians need to be different than people around us and have a distinctive way of looking at issues that affect our society.

Wearing Bible Spectacles
What is the peculiar way that we Christians should look at the issues affecting the upcoming election? John Calvin, the great Protestant Reformer and author of The Institutes of Christian Religion, said that we Christians look at the world through "Bible spectacles." In other words, everyone looks at life through a set of lenses based upon our culture, our life experiences, our self-interests, etc. Calvin suggested that for the Christian, the Bible serves as the God-given set of lenses profoundly shaping our vision of life.

So what does this mean for the upcoming election?

Inadequate Bases for Voting
There are many inadequate bases upon which the majority of Americans (including Christians) vote. For example:

  • Voting by Heritage - My parents always voted Republican or Democrat, therefore, I will vote as they did.
  • Voting by Tribe - My tribe (white suburbanites, black city dwellers, evangelicals, Roman Catholics, etc.) always votes a certain way, so I will vote that way.
  • Voting by Voter Guides - Virtually all voting guides (including "Christian" ones) are by their selection of the issues designed to push the voter towards a certain candidate.
  • Voting by Campaign Advertising - Guess who the campaign advertiser wants you to vote for?
  • Voting by Media Interpretation - Do you think that CNN, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, or Michael Moore are wearing Bible spectacles as they interpret issues and candidates?
  • Voting by Purely Secular Concerns - Secular concerns may include cost-benefit calculations, security concerns, pandering to fears and prejudices, appeals to self-interests, etc.
Most of these things have nothing to do with looking at life through Biblical lenses.

The Limits of Biblical Thinking
Just because we read the Bible doesn't mean that we will all arrive at the same conclusion. If we did, we wouldn't have hundreds and thousands of different denominations. And just because we all read the Bible doesn't mean we will all share the same political viewpoints. Why is that?

  1. Because we can't point to any particular verse in the Bible that plainly tells us to vote Democrat or Republican.
  2. Because though the Bible is infallible, our interpretation of the Bible is not infallible. And our application of the Bible to contemporary issues is certainly not going to be infallible.
  3. Because reasonable Christians may differ on the prioritization of items upon which the Bible speaks.
And even when we agree on the specific issues on every Christian's agenda (poverty, war, abortion, religious freedom, etc.) reasonable Christians may very much disagree on the best way to tackle these issues. In other words, we may agree with each other on the principles, but reasonably differ with each other on how to apply our principles.

Beginning with the Bible
My concern as a Christian pastor is to disciple our church to begin with the Bible in all of our thinking. While we may differ on working out the Bible into such complex issues as voting, I would be overjoyed to discover that members of Vineyard Columbus at least began with the Bible in thinking about voting.

Let me apply this to one real world issue, illegal immigration. Recently the Columbus Dispatch ran a series of articles on illegal immigration. Their secular analysis focused exclusively upon security concerns for Americans, economics (Do immigrants take jobs away from Americans, or simply take jobs that Americans would not take? Are illegal immigrants a burden on the American taxpayer, or do they pay back more in tax money and in unclaimed Social Security than they put in?), and issues of crime (are illegal immigrants more or less dangerous than American citizens?). Arguments for and against these secular concerns were marshaled.

While these issues are not unimportant, I would hope that attenders of Vineyard Columbus would first put on biblical spectacles when approaching the issue of illegal immigration. The biblical Christian would:

  1. Begin with the conviction that illegal immigrants are persons made in God's image and are, therefore, worthy of respect and dignity. (Genesis 1:26,28).
  2. Appreciate the fact that many of our spiritual ancestors were themselves economic refugees. Thus Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob moved from the Promised Land on several occasions in search of food (Genesis 12:10; 26:1; 41:57; 42:6; 43:1-7). The story of Ruth is the story of an immigrant who continually crossed national borders in search of food. Other spiritual ancestors of ours were pushed out of their homeland because of war or persecution (Joseph, Daniel, Moses, David, and the baby Jesus). So immigration because of economics, war, and asylum-seeking is not far from every Christian's own heritage.
  3. Specifically apply the Second Commandment to illegal immigrants: "The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the Lord your God" (Leviticus 19:34).
  4. Care for immigrants since they had a central place in the laws and practices of ancient Israel. Israel was commanded to love immigrants because God loves immigrants. "He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigners residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt" (Deuteronomy 10:18-19).
  5. Be hospitable according to New Testament teaching which literally means to "love the stranger" or the alien (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Peter 4:9). Jesus commanded his followers to welcome people who had no social standing such as the poor, the sick, and the outsider (Luke 14:12-14).
Now none of these Bible passages answer the question about whether we should build a wall covering the whole length of the border between the United States and Mexico, or whether we ought to educate the children of illegal immigrants here in the United States in our public schools. But these biblical considerations, in my mind at least, do shape a Christian's heart so that we are more inclined to be tolerant, welcoming, and inclusive of immigrants who come to America seeking work or asylum.

My bottom line appeal to you, who read this letter, is this: We Christians must look at issues facing America differently than does the rest of society. We should not be motivated primarily by partisan rhetoric, economic expediency, or ingrained voting preferences. Rather, we Christians are to look at the world through the spectacles that God has provided for us - the lenses of biblical thinking. Our citizenship in heaven ought to be more important to us than any earthly nationality. And on any specific issue, the tack we take ought to correspond with our Lord's heart revealed in the Bible.

In this election, vote as a resident alien, someone whose loyalty is first and foremost to the kingdom of God.


I understand how a Christian could vote for McCain or Obama. What I don't understand is how we can see things in this election as black and white. There are lots of gray areas. So what I don't understand is how someone can not wrestle with this. I'm still wrestling. I know I'm indecisive. But I just think this is a big deal. Tomorrow night has now been designated fact check and Bible research night for me, to finally get it all together. I need to organize my thoughts. Maybe make a list. I love bullet points. I also love comments. Let me know what you're thinking about all this. Especially my new readers :)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Kroger makes decent queso dip

Let me tell you, after last week, I needed a relaxing weekend with no work.

Friday afternoon, I told my kids that I was leaving right after school for the beach, so they needed to pick up their papers and push in their chairs and generally clean up because if not, Monday morning would be clean up time. I think I scared them a little, but really I should be asking for that everyday. Because I'm not their mamas. I clean up after them too much.

So I left at 3:30 on the dot and generally had an amazing weekend with Meredith girls. Beautiful weather, great conversation, and lots of sleeping. I got to catch up on my book, Three Cups of Tea, watch Medical Mysteries with the girls, and blow my budget a little. But it was worth it.

I got home last night, spent some quality time with the hubs ;), went to Whole Foods and Quail Ridge Books, ate a quick dinner with the in-laws, caught up on the news from the weekend and new failblog.org posts (hilarious).

Today went ok. The morning is generally ok, but the afternoon always falls apart with a couple of kids. It's really frustrating. I think they just stink at transitions. I have started reading The Witches, which is so fun and creepy and October-ish. Plus Roald Dahl is amazing.

The end of the quarter is on Monday which means crunch time for Mrs. Orr. Ouch.

Today I came home to find the hubs passed out, sick. I made some curried kidney beans, which he woke up for, and we have been watching TV and "surfing the web" all night. Which brings me to the title of this post. I didn't make enough for dinner, and we had to supplement it with chips and queso. And Kroger's queso isn't as gross as you'd think. Who woulda thought.

Tomorrow is backwards day for spirit week at school. This could get awkward.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Today was a long day.

I got to work at 6:57. School ends at 3:30. It is amazing how many little things happen in those few short hours. I am trying this new thing with some difficult kids. It's called "Go sit in the hallway if you are going to disrupt my class." I realize this sounds harsh, but I have come to the conclusion that these kids are doing most of it for attention. And it is really disrespectful to the whole class when I have them work independently while I give one-on-one attention to a child who is yelling out or generally being rude in my class. So while I'm not sure if this is "best practice," I am sane and the rest of the class is learning.

I stayed after school for 3 hours doing work.

Then I gave childcare for a Title 1 meeting (a total answer to prayer because I got some money for it!) and I just got home (around 8). Long day!

Phew. I'm off to eat some noodles and broccoli (all I had energy for) and watch some reality TV. The day is over.

Monday, October 20, 2008

One more post

I just needed to post about the things I am thankful for.

I've been discouraged lately at school and really anxious about things in life...so here's my thankfulness post.

1. Marriage.

I used to be so scared of it, and for anyone who is like me now, let me tell you-marriage is wonderful. Here's why:

-a partnership. We make decisions together and we help each other with the little things (the dishes, vacuuming) and the big things (choosing a retirement plan, working through spiritual issues). We are not fashion experts, but I love that I can walk into the living room and ask Joel, "Cute or frumpy?" and he'll tell me honestly. I love that because I have this huge aversion lately to cooking meat, I am now the veggie preparer and the dish washer.

-a friendship. We laugh together a lot. We talk in silly voices or make jokes all night. We look a stupid websites. We watch old sitcoms. We run errands. We go for walks. We eat our weight in fried fair food. We are best friends.

-a romance. We aren't the most romantic people, but the little things make a huge difference. A book from Quail Ridge on my new favorite topic or a back rub or cooking dinner for me when I just can't get up-that is romance. It is wonderful.

-a confidant. I love that I can tell Joel anything. He is such a good listener. We definitely have our arguments, but we try really hard to keep those "lines of communication" open. We talk a lot-about anything. Even though right now we're in bed with our computers ;) Actually, we are both going to bed so late. So we decided that tonight we are going to get in bed with our computers early and then hopefully we'll go to sleep earlier. We'll see! We both just looked at each other with a smirk. We are so 21st century.

-protection. I don't think about this a lot, but tonight when I was drying my hair, all the lights in the room cut off, along with the hair dryer and heater. I called out to Joel a few times and he didn't answer. I had just gotten out of the shower but I ran into the living room (after freaking myself out!), and Joel was there. He couldn't hear me. I know my imagination is crazy, but I was so thankful to see him! He fixed the fuse box and also said I didn't have to be scared. I love having a husband.

2) This house. We are so thankful for this house. We talk about it all the time. It is such a blessing in so many ways- the location, the size, the price, the comfort. Truly, we are blessed.

3) Our jobs. We are really happy with our schools and love our jobs (even on our worst days).

4) Our small group at Crown. We've discussed how much we have learned from Crown in just a few weeks. It's great to learn from all these people.

5) All the things from my previous post. When I look around the house, I can see so many blessings. We are so thankful for the gifts given to us. I can look in our bedroom and see the bedding given to us from my bridesmaids, the bed from his parents, the mirror from my aunt...so much love :)

All in all, I just need to be thankful!


I wanted to post one more thought, and it's off this topic. I've been really troubled with this election. I came to my decision through various things, and maybe I just look at things differently. I feel like I weighed the issues, and am still doing so. I am really troubled by the issue of abortion, but I'm also really troubled by other things on the republican platform. I just wanted to say that I am not staunchly anything. I think that my primary allegiance is to a "King and a kingdom." I am having trouble transferring the things I believe to be right to a secular, earthly government. I have no idea how a Christian can arrive at this decision easily. If you have, please let me know. I just don't think either candidate is perfect or a savior. I also know both are politicians. Neither are completely honest. There are things I feel like important on both sides. This is not a one issue election. How do we rationalize the other things away, you know? Does this make sense?

To anyone that actually reads this, I welcome your input.


Random things I love to look at in our living room....

The teacup from my mom's collection she gave me for our home.

The dragonfly Joel and I bought in Charleston from a fair trade market.

A picture from Peru from Ashley and a gourd from Joel's mom.

The tea set given to us from various people. The teapot is from my mom. Beautiful :)

Plate from my roommate in my favorite color!

The hutch we bought right after we got married.

Our china and my favorite wedding picture.

Finally! We have nice coasters (in my favorite color from my parents!)

The cute pitcher from Joel's mom.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday post

Let me just say...Joel and I went to the fair yesterday with Will and Christine...and it was incredible. We split a lot of things between us so 1) we didn't blow all our $ and 2) we could try more things!

Our combined (between the four of us) food:

-biscuits (ham and sausage)
-deep fried oreos (my favorite!)
-fried snickers
-fried pecan pie
-fried mac and cheese
-frozen cheesecake dipped in chocolate
-fried twinkie
-fried cheeseburger
-roasted corn
-candy apple
-ice cream
-kettle corn

I love the fair.

Today we did the nursery and I got over my perpetual fear of changing someone else's baby's diaper. Almost. Mostly because I didn't have to change any today.

Joel and I are trying this new thing. It's called buying food we actually want to eat at the grocery store. I'm very excited about our menu this week. We've been saving a lot, too, so we were able to go to the fair without taking out any extra money.

I have a lot more to share about school, but for now, I need to eat!


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stuff White People Like

This is so true. I'm embarrassed to admit how many I can claim.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A night off...

...kind of.

Yesterday was INSANE. I had repetitive discipline problems in the afternoon, and had to send a child home. It was so frustrating. And then I had to come back for Math Night. I was so exhausted. But today was much better, and tonight I am just sitting back, watching Nanny 911, and grading...

Joel gave me some advice last night...he said no matter what happens, when the bell rings, I'll still be alive. It kind of put things into perspective :)

We are saving up our dollars for the fair this weekend! We can't wait!

There's not a whole lot else going on...I am hoping for Christmas we can get a nice camera and I'll be able to post some nice pictures!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Fabulous Fall Festivities

Sunday afternoon Joel and I went to the Farmer's Market and for under $20 we got:
apples, tomatoes, glass bottles sodas, peppers, pastries, and garlic. SO awesome. We love love love going there to spend time together and get some fresh produce. It is so much cheaper than at the grocery store and we feel good about supporting local farms. Win win win.

Joel and I are trying new ways to save money...one way is going to Kroger because it's super cheap and they have really good deals. And this week they had a sale on all baking supplies so I got to make a semi-homemade apple pie. I cheated on the crust but I did use apples from the farmer's market instead of buying apple pie filling.

We saved about $10 this week from our budget which is going straight into our Fair Fund. That's right-the money we save is going to fund our N.C. State Fair craze. Bring on the guilt-free deep fried oreos and corn dogs!

In other news, school is going a little better. I have a couple of challenging students, so if you could pray for that. I just need wisdom and lots of love to pour out to them. I need to remember that they are just children. Phew. It's hard. But I can see that this is definitely a ministry and I need the LORD to help me, because this is not Mrs. Orr's classroom, it is His. Thankfully, I have gotten some parent volunteers this week. YAY!

Crown is going really well. I love being in a Bible study together. Our memory verse this week was super long but really great. Let's see if I can remember it:

Everything in the heavens and earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your kingdom. We adore You as being in control of everything. Riches and honor come from You alone, and You are the ruler of all mankind. Your hand controls power and might, and it is at your discretion that men are made great and given strength. 1 Chronicles 29:11-12.

P.S. I hope I didn't offend anyone with my post last week. For the few people that read this...I am not angry or judging you if we don't agree. I don't have all the answers. And I don't think either candidate has all the answers. I am thankful that the Lord is in control of everything.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The time has come...

I'm actually quite nervous right now as I post this. I, like Laura, have really thought about whether it was beneficial or not to post my political leanings on such a public forum. But after today, and some deep convictions, I think I have a responsibility to post what I feel now very strongly about. So...here goes.

Joel and I have have independently chosen to support Obama. At first, I respected McCain a lot. I thought he was so different from the rest of the GOP, which I felt tied religion to politics so closely to some it seemed indistinguishable. I thought he would take a stand against the corruption that ran rampant during the past 8 years.

But I slowly changed my opinion of McCain. I think his choice of Sarah Palin was quite frankly a ploy to gain more attention. She is clearly not ready to be 2nd in command. I don't agree with his health care plan, which is more of the same and doesn't solve the root problem. It is such a HUGE problem in our country and a simple tax credit isn't enough. There are many more reasons but I eventually decided that I wasn't going to vote at all.

I talked to Joel, who has always been very political, and he supported my decision.

But then this crazy thing happened and I started to agree with Obama.
Let me tell you why:

1) Health care. The problem is so large and something must be done. I agree with his plan which can be found here

2) Foreign policy. Yes, the war has turned around. But our reputation in the world is ruined. How can we engage other leaders to change some dangerous places unless we first end the war, go after those who really attacked us, and then TALK to people. When I work with children, it is clear to me that how I approach them seriously impacts the outcome of our interaction. When they are wrong, it does nothing to escalate the situation. Things must be turned around with diplomacy first. Then we can gain the right to fight. But not before.

3) Social issues. I am a social conservative, for the most part. But I strongly believe that most of these things are symptoms and the root of the problem is our hearts. The church is told not to judge those outside the church, but to be vigilant inside the church. I believe that most of these issues involve things that Christians should worry about in "our own house" and know we are not responsible for those outside. If you don't agree with gay marriage, outlawing it will not change their hearts at all. It is for the law to decide, not the church, unless it is inside the church.

I do believe that children should have sex education. It is idyllic to think that families talk about it in responsible ways, but most don't. And sex education of another form is in every child's face when he watches television or listens to the radio. It's out there, and we have to work on it in the home but understand that so many don't, and often those children are the ones who really need it.

I also believe that sex education that makes people responsible for their own decisions is the real answer to our abortion problem. I am very pro-life, but I think the problem is so much greater than one law.

I think that the real issues are health care, childcare, the cost of living, poverty, etc. that make abortion seem like the easier option. We need to have support before and after, not just laws that will send women into hiding to have dangerous, illegal abortions.

4) Most importantly, I think we need to support those who the Bible commands us to help: the needy, the poor, the ones who have nothing left. The Lord will take care our our needs. We have enough. We cannot look to those who are in poverty and tell them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

As Christians, we have a duty to fight against injustice, not just here, but around the world.

I agree with so many of Obama's stands on the things that are most important. I don't agree with everything. But I think that we have to make decisions that don't just impact our wallets or our church but the greater good, the cause of justice, wisdom in dealing in a global community. I encourage you to think critically about the issues. It doesn't bother me when we disagree, but it bothers me when as Christians and citizens we aren't thinking critically about the things that will affect the entire world.

Friday, October 03, 2008

'Scuse me, can I talk to you for a minute?

The past few months, it's been hard to get a word in edgewise.

At home with my parents, with my friends, sometimes with the hubs, and of course-AT SCHOOL, I feel like I'm constantly talking over something or someone.

It's made me incredibly protective of my talking time.

I get that I'm soft spoken, for the most part.
I get that I do not tell the funniest jokes or have the most interesting anecdotes. But lately, I have been desperate for just my time to talk. When is it my turn, eh?

The hubs does not mean to do this. He is wonderful, really. He lets me talk and talk and talk when I get home, because I have told him about this huge issue I have. We take walks a couple of times a week so that we can have uninterrupted conversation. Because other times, there is a T.V. on or an NPR story or a friend over or we're making dinner...all these noisy things that get in the way.

Sometimes I just feel like there is too much clutter, too much noise. I just need to breathe and then clean it all up. (In fact, today I got so stressed about this I stayed after school for an hour and a half just organizing papers!)

I just always feel like that. Like I can't organize my thoughts. Like I can't focus on one thing. Like everything in life is jumbled somewhere in my brain I need to dig through to find it.

Tonight on my way home, it finally dawned on me.

Well, the Lord had to hit me on the head and say, "All that clutter and noise-just turn it off. You can't hear Me."

It's so true. I can't hear Him with all these other things in my mind. I need to focus. To just listen. I think I needed these months of feeling like I'm not being heard to finally realize that I'm just not listening enough.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Domestic Diva

OK so while I'm not the world's best cook, I do know how to make some decently yummy and quick meals. Most days, I crave pasta and steamed veggies. Not burgers. Not pizza. Honest to goodness, I want to eat this everyday. So tonight I tried to make a pasta salad, and it turned out pretty well.

* whole wheat rotini pasta
* 1.5 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1.5 tablespoon mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip)
* salt and pepper to taste
* 6 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 (9 ounce) can solid white tuna packed in water, drained
* cooked peas and corn.

It's super easy. I just whisked the mustard, mayo, salt and pepper, and olive oil together. Then I added the tuna. Then I added the cooked pasta and peas and corn. It would have been better with lemon juice, but alas, I was out.

I went for a run and put it in the fridge while I was out. I'm currently downing it (I think it's good energy food) and it's pretty good.

Alton Brown, look out.

Praise the Lord!

So since before the wedding, my car has smelled like burning.

This is very troubling to Joel and me.

But after the wedding, straight away, we had to get my brakes fixed. So we waited until this month.

Today, I took my car to the Ridgewood gas station next to Whole Foods. And praise the Lord, it was just a few loose bolts and a leak. They tightened it all and only charged me $20! He said if it still smells in a week to bring it back and they'll change the gasket. Joel and I are SO happy because the mechanic was honest. He could have charged me for the gasket ($100) without trying to just tighten the bolts. Also, even with the changed gasket, it was less than we had budgeted and for that we are PUMPED.

Today I didn't get to any conferences, but I didn't have a planning period so I was running around a lot trying to prep for the next lesson.

Tomorrow we have a speaker coming in to teach us about soil. I've heard it's a really cool presentation, which is great because the one thing I have learned is that I love teaching science! (Nerd, I know.)

We had some ups and downs today but for the most part, I got through it.

I have some free time tonight to take a walk and make a yummy dinner. And lesson plan, of course :)

Monday, September 29, 2008


Yesterday was fabulous. We went to the gym first thing in the morning (I never thought I'd go to the gym at 8:30 on a Sunday morning but it's become a regular part of our schedule). We went to Sunday School and church, and then had lunch with my parents. We worked on Crown Homework all afternoon and then went to Crown. After, we got to shoot baskets in the church parking lot :)

It just was a great day. When I thought about being married before I thought about days like this. Not huge romance, but simple things that we got to do together that grew us closer to the Lord and to each other.

But my goodness-today I am tired!

I tried the "conference" idea. I announced it in the morning, and by lunch, nobody had signed up. But in the afternoon, six kids signed up! So during independent reading, I called kids to a table, and I told them they could tell me anything they wanted. I even got to talk to a couple of kids that I normally don't get to talk to.

This evening I was swamped with work so Joel (sweet hubs) cooked us dinner.

We're watching Seinfeld and then it's lights out early in the Orr household!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Cranky Pants McGee

That is what the hubs and I affectionately call each other on our bad days.

Today was one of those days. Yesterday was early release and today, with a kink in the routine...my kids (mostly the ones I have for math) were terrible. Honestly. Wouldn't listen. Wouldn't work. Didn't try. I was so frustrated at one point I had to take a teacher time out in the hallway. I get frustrated when I feel like I can get them quiet but I can't get them engaged. I need to try harder, I know. I try to do games in math every single day, because I know that's how they stay engaged. But then they get so wild they can't play the game, or they don't have the skills to play it correctly. I just want them to learn. I have a very low group of kids for math, and I feel like they are just so used to not "getting it" that they don't give themselves a fair shot. I don't feel like I'm battling inability, I'm battling a lack of confidence. And maybe that's so much harder.

I want to start over. Thank the Lord it's Friday. I was zapped. I feel like I'm still in survival mode, but one thing I know for sure. A lot of my problems are because I stopped being a camp counselor. I became like other teachers I had seen, not forming those relationships with kids on the playground, thinking it was okay to yell in my classroom, not using those attention-getting techniques I used to be so good at. I need to start over. I need to rely on the LORD for my strength and patience, not myself or "best practices."

I think I'm going to start mini-conferences with my kids during morning time. Here's my idea:

I hate writer's workshop conferences everyday that last about 3-5 minutes. During that time, they read me their writing and we discuss strong and weak points. Well, during morning time, most finish early and get to read independently before the day starts. So maybe I'll start conferences in the morning, when they can tell me anything they want for a good 3-5 minutes. I bet I can get to all of them at least once a week. I feel like I just need to talk to them more about their lives. It means I'll have to get more organized before the school day starts but I think it'll be worth it.

This weekend I have a lot to do:
-Finish Crown homework
-Create word focus center
-Write a mini-grant for all the things I would like to purchase for my classroom
-Create some math centers (maybe this will be helpful to keep them all engaged)

Plus clean the house because this week we got nothing done!

This afternoon, I came home and Joel was taking a nap. So I curled up next to him (I love being married!) and konked out. We woke up 2 hours later, but we could have slept through the night. We were exhausted. Oh, Friday after-school naps. They are becoming the norm for us.

Tonight we are watching the debate (I'm glad it's actually happening).
So far, I've kept my political opinions (which are way strong) away from my blogging world, but I think soon they may start creeping out. So if you don't know me well enough to know what I think about the issues, you may discover them on the blog. I (ideally) think that we're all here because we want what we think is best for the U.S. and the world, and we have different ideas about what that looks like. So let's not argue, mkay?

OK, I really need to focus on the debate now. Happy watching everyone!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This book and this song...I feel like the Lord is speaking to me. I keep thinking-I just want to GO...but maybe I just feel like that would make me "feel better." I have a ministry...it's in my classroom. I told Joel yesterday that I know when I have days in which I teaching unto the Lord and days when I am being selfish. I used to really struggle with my choice to be a teacher. I thought because I was a Christian, I had to do something "churchy." Like if I wanted to teach, I should teach Sunday School or teach in a private Christian school. But Christians are called all over to be the salt and light. I have really forgotten that lately, settling into the work environment. But He's calling me to really fight for my kids and glorify Him with my words, actions, and motives. Am I teaching so that I can get a bonus for good EOG scores, or is it because I want my kids to have as many opportunities as they can? Is it because I want to impress my principal or because I want these kids to be able to read to their kids, to have more doors opened for them than were opened for their parents, to be able to make wise decisions in life and provide for their families? It's just absurd how selfish I can get.

In other news, Jennifer Kromhout, our photographer, gave us our wedding prints today. I love them! We are so thankful for her. Please check out www.acorn-photo.com!

And this is our wedding song:

I love fall...today we went to the Farmer's Market and bought lots of produce (and some bakery items :)) and now Joel is watching football and I'm listening to Jon Foreman...so good.