Tuesday, January 27, 2009

25 things...

Here are 25 random things about myself....because I'm procrastinating. And I want the friends who read this to do this too, so I can learn about them!

1) I drink 2-3 diet sodas a day. I realize this is not healthy but it's a very hard habit to break (and I'm unwilling to break it!)

2) I never thought I'd be 22 and (happily) married. Commitment in general scares me.

3) I LONG to be a good decorator but I am limited by the feeling that I am throwing away money on frivolous things.

4) I always feel in-between. Not American, not Hispanic. Not ultra-conservative nor uber-liberal.

5) I hate being the center of attention.

6) I love family reality shows: Jon and Kate Plus 8, Wife Swap, Supernanny, 17 and Counting and also trashy shows like Bridezillas and My Big Fat Redneck Wedding.

7) I feel a slight twinge of guilt whenever I write a run-on sentence.

8) Going to the farmer's market makes me feel like a better person.

9) I loved being in school...and I cried at my Meredith graduation. I miss "academic" learning.

10) I feel so sad when I don't have dessert in the house. Like now.

11) I love to cook and bake for friends.

12) When I am extremely sad, I go to Shelly Lake to think and pray.

13) I want to have a big family.

14) I became a Christian when I was 12...under a big tent.

15) I recently went to my parents' house and found all my journals from the time I became a Christian until I got married. I'm so glad I kept them, and I wish I journaled more now.

16) I listen to NPR obsessively. I'm not sure how much I retain because I've been listening to Car Talk since I was a kid, and I still can't change a tire.

17) Before I got married, I was really scared of the dark and would have trouble sleeping. I have slept like a baby the last 6 months.

18) I don't think I am the sort of teacher I went into teaching to become...and I'm scared of what that means for my students.

19) I've always struggled with figuring out what my talents are. And I've always wanted a "visible" talent: singing, sports, art, writing...

20) Leaving Spain was one of the hardest things I've ever done. It took me a long time to get over it, and it still breaks my heart when I think about it.

21) I like reading non-fiction better than fiction. I'm also good at math. Joel is the opposite, and we think this is funny.

22) I'm excited about staying home with my kids.

23) I used to want to live on a commune.

24) I want to learn how to make more things at home (like the Duggars :) )

25) My favorite thing in the world is laughing with my husband.

So if you read this...I want you to do it too!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tomorrow marks...

6 months of marriage! This is a big deal, I understand, only to wives, and not to husbands, but still! Halfway through our first year. Considering they always say the first year is the hardest, and we still love each other, I'd say I'm pretty excited ;)

I absolutely love TLC shows, especially Jon and Kate Plus 8 and 17 and Counting.
Today I watched "A Very Duggar Wedding" and it got me thinking about the "in sickness and in health" part of the vows.

It ends up that Joel needs surgery on his knee. It will be a good 3-6 months before he is "back to normal" and that is quite daunting. Today at the gym, his knee gave a little while he was lifting. To compensate, he somehow threw out his back. He said he spent 10 minutes in our driveway trying to stand up! I am really sad for him and how much pain he is in. I know it's frustrating to have been so healthy and active and take care of your body so well and it just give out.

One thing Joel and I knew going into marriage was that I have little patience for sickness, in myself or in him. I am very aware at how selfish this sounds, and I'm just being honest about one of my many flaws. The Lord is teaching me how to be supportive and encouraging right now, because Joel can't do as much as he used to be able to do. We don't go for many walks anymore, and he is trying to help out as much as he can around the house but sometimes he's just in so much pain.

So please pray for his healing and for me to be an encouraging and loving wife.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just thought I'd share...

I found this list of qualities a school administrator should have here:

* Smile frequently and genuinely. * Ask how your staff is doing, and listen to the answers you get. * Share information about your personal life, but don't overshare. * Hold meetings only when absolutely necessary. * Create an atmosphere of trust through small gestures, and never make it seem like you're trying to catch your staff doing something wrong. * Compliment your teachers in writing after a classroom walk-through and in public as often as possible. * ALWAYS have your teacher's back when a parent makes a complaint. Reprimand the teacher privately if needed, but create a united front to outsiders. * Take on some of the district's demands yourself, rather than hoisting them all on teachers. *Don't create additional paperwork. *Make "a trip to the principal's office" something to fear for unruly children, and non-threatening for teachers (not the other way around).

And I realized how thankful I am for the administration at Joyner...because those are exactly the qualities they have! I was at Wiley last year, too, and felt very comfortable with the principal, assistant principal, and IRT. Working at the Y has also spoiled me...my bosses, for the most part, have been phenomenal role models that I really enjoyed working for. I am just so thankful to have had these people in my life...and in authority!

Still morning

I am reading 1 Kings lately. I admitted here earlier that I had really left Bible study out of my life for a while, and I am so thankful to the Lord that He has forgiven me for that and also let me learn about Him again in a whole new perspective, love, amazement at His story, His power, and His incredible love.

So I'm towards the end of 1 Kings and I'm reading about Elijah and how he flees from Jezebel and the Lord leads him to travel for 40 days and 40 nights. He ends up at Horeb, "the mountain of God" and "The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."

And this is what happens next:
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

This passage floored me. God showed His mighty power, but chose to use an intimate whisper to speak to Elijah.

There are no words.

Sometimes I look up commentary on passages to make sure I am understanding them correctly. John Wesley's commentary said this:

A still voice — To intimate, that God would do his work in and for Israel in his own time, not by might or power, but by his own spirit, Zechariah 4:6, which moves with a powerful, but yet with a sweet and gentle gale.

And Zechariah 4:6 says: "Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty."

I don't really know how to describe how much this passage has moved me. Praise the Lord...He is merciful and compassionate.

And I want to be merciful and compassionate, the way He is calling me to be. How often in my classroom do I gently speak to a child to get them back on task or correct their behavior? How often do I use "might and power" and discipline quickly? I want to have a gentle, quiet spirit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Snow day!

Belated picture of the doughnuts. I made another batch last night and had some for breakfast with hot coffee. Mmm....

Today was supposed to be a ridiculously busy day. From no planning period (except for a 20 minute lunch, to an SST meeting right after school with no time to prep, to racing back home to tutor before making a quick dinner and babysitting...I was frazzled last night with the prospect.

And then...the announcement at about 10pm last night. NO SCHOOL! I was ecstatic. Joel and I got to play outside a little.

Here's our house:


Joel making a snowball to hit me:

And I got him back:

We took a walk on Park Lake:

Happy teachers!

We also got to watch the inauguration together, which was special. Of course, I cried. I am so moved at how much our country has changed. Rick Warren gave a lovely prayer and for one day, it was wonderful to see so many put aside partisanship and just unite and be thankful that our country can celebrate a PEACEFUL transition, not a coup, a revolution, a revolt...we freely elect our leaders. How amazing. Praise the Lord for that.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Happy Martin Luther King Day!

Since I'm now teaching about MLK, it really hits me more. I've been astounded at how much he accomplished, and I'm really excited about this week of historic things and all the good learning/teaching that will occur!

On Saturday night, we saw Slumdog Millionaire with Will and Christine. It may have been my favorite movie I've seen in about a year. I highly recommend it!

Last night, I made doughnut holes, per the request of Joel.
They turned out really well. And I'm trying to upload a photo of them, but my computer has some dumb viruses and nothing will upload. But here's the recipe:
  • 1 quart vegetable oil for frying
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • OR 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  1. Heat oil in deep-fryer to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). I just use a really heavy skillet and a frying thermometer.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, mace and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Create a well in the center of the mixture, and pour in milk, canola oil and egg. Thoroughly stir into the mixture.
  3. In batches, drop the mixture by rounded teaspoonfuls into the hot oil. Fry on all sides, 2 to 4 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  4. In a resealable plastic bag, mix 1 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. While still warm, place balls a few at a time into the bag, and toss to coat. (I used powdered sugar instead for most of them.)
Not exactly the healthiest thing in the world, but worth it :)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

5th picture in my 5th album

Laura tagged me...so I've uploaded the 5th picture from my 5th photo album on my computer.

I know this picture was taken while I was in the car. I am pretty sure (hopefully!) that Joel was driving. I think it was down Edwards Mill, towards 540.

I think there are so many amazing, awe-inspiring ways that the Lord shows us His glory though nature. I love love love when the sun breaks through the clouds. And this is one of those ways that has astounded me, even as a little girl. Whenever I see it, I try to snap a picture of it.

This day was obviously dark and cloudy, and the sun broke through the clouds in the most magnificent way. Looking at this picture again almost makes me want to cry! I am just reminded of His splendor.

In other news...

Joel's mom was a missionary kid in Nigeria, and along with other Nigerian MKs, she has formed a council to "advance sustainable solutions that address practical needs of the people of Nigeria."

The website is here if you want to check it out. She said something last week that I have been chewing over for a few days. She said you have to quench people's physical thirst before they can understand the quenching of spiritual thirst.

And I am trying to understand how that applies to me as a teacher. I truly need to understand the important of my calling as a teacher...and for that matter, a wife. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I haven't taken this as seriously as I should.

The reasons I became passionate about teaching were because I felt like so many kids are left behind or looked down upon because of circumstances that are beyond their own control. And I saw the classroom as a possible microcosm of what a peaceful, loving community can be-one that treats all people justly and mercifully, in which all have the opportunity to be what they have been called to be. I believed that elementary school was a critical time to catch problems before children fell farther and farther behind. I wanted to show love to all students, to facilitate a caring community in which students could feel safe to take risks, learn from one another, and be successful so that they would have a better start in life.

I look back at the year so far, and I don't see that happening. I have a student that is dealing with more than I could deal with, and he is disrupting the class constantly, trying my ever decreasing patience, and falling so far behind I have no idea how to pick him back up. He has shut down, quit trying, and hates coming to school. And I don't blame him for that part (I'd hate it too), but I struggle with how to not resent his frequent outbursts of anger, his meanness and bullying other kids, and his lack of desire to even pick up a pencil.

I know somewhere there is something that will change him. But I have no idea what it is. And meanwhile, the other students certainly aren't seeing the best of me. I wonder if they feel neglected or treated unfairly. I wonder how often my frustration with him spills out on to them. I am trying to ignore his attention-seeking behavior but it is really difficult. And they can completely see that and I wonder if we will end up with the classroom that I wanted at the beginning of the year. I wonder if my students will grow academically the way they need to. I wonder if I am doing all I can or if I am doing it all wrong.

I just have no idea where I am. But the Lord does. So I'm just praying for that sunlight through the clouds right now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


The hubs is fast asleep, but I wanted to steal a couple of seconds to write before a very early bedtime...

Sometimes I struggle with enjoying things fully. I do complain, but also, I am always aware that they are temporary and I have a slight guilt that accompanies so much of "secular" things I do. I am trying to make every moment, from making breakfast to brushing my teeth, an opportunity to worship (and to really view things from that perspective) and tonight, I really enjoyed spending time with Joel.

I spent what seemed like forever making a big dinner and then I cleaned up the kitchen, all while listening to the Jars of Clay EP and the Jon Foreman EPs (amazing). I LOVED it. And right as I was wiping up the last crumbs, my BFF walks in the door with sunflowers. Love.

Tonight, I laughed until I cried and my stomach hurt, and it wasn't at YouTube. Joel and I had some ridiculous joke going for a good 30 minutes.

I'm reading 1 Kings. I've been listening to A Heart Like His by Beth Moore on my iPod and this picks up the story. Do you ever wish there was more detail in the stories? Like in 1 Kings 11, I just wanted to know more about his 700 wives and 300 concubines and how he died...and I know that it is the perfect Word of God, but I guess that's just the girl in me.

Time for an early bedtime! Pray for Joel's knee to be healed...he had an MRI on Tuesday and we're just waiting for the results.

Night night.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Old pictures, but worth posting...

Joel and I were so much tanner this summer. this is on our honeymoon. I think we tried to take a picture about 15 times, but we couldn't get it right.

I really think this picture is hilarious. And also...I was tan.

Walking around Charleston on our honeymoon.

Our Nigerian outfits given to us as a wedding present by a wonderful family friend, Burster. We put them on, and it was a hoot. But truly, this was a generous gift.

I was just looking through some old photos on the computer, and I don't know, I just love being married :)

As promised...

Welcome Gabriel James Polston!

Kim with Gabe!

Ashley with the cutie.

I got to hold him after he'd already been fed, burped, and changed. I sure am lucky :)

Such a sweet boy!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Fun website

A teacher showed me this website. We are learning about bones, muscles, and joints, and I played this game with my kids. It is HILARIOUS...to me, not to them. They have no idea who Ahhhnold is.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

Again with the no pictures.

Tomorrow is FRIDAY and I am certainly ready. This week has been difficult to transition back to work. I've felt extremely run down this week, and I'm not entirely sure why.

Words Their Way, the new phonics and word patterns program I started this week, is going really well. The groups have been working well together, they are learning how to think critically about words. I have found some weaknesses they have and I feel like I'm better able to tailor my instruction because of this. So I'm really excited about this!

Kim, my mentor throughout high school and college, just had a little boy! I am going to visit them tomorrow after school. I will take a picture tomorrow, promise :)

Tonight I made fry bread.
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 cups oil for frying, or as needed

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in milk, and mix until the dough comes together. Add more flour if necessary to be able to handle the dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth, at least 5 minutes. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a large, deep heavy skillet to 365 degrees F (180 degrees C). Oil should be about 1 1/2 inches deep. Break off 3/4 cup sized pieces of dough, and shape into round discs 1/4 inch in thickness, making a thinner depressed area in the center. Fry breads in the hot oil until golden on both sides, turning only once. Drain on paper towels.
It turned out really well. It cooks really fast so you have to watch it.

I sprinkled sugar, cinnamon, and honey on them and cut them into triangles. There are some guys over hanging out with Joel, and all the bread is gone! Well, almost. I saved a few pieces for myself :)

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

1) I stink at resolutions.
2) It's early and I need to go to work.
3) I just wanted to ask for prayers for Joel's knee. He hurt it right after we got married, and hasn't been able to play basketball or run since then...and it's been hard for him. He's been to the doctor a couple of times and is going to physical therapy, but this week he tweaked it somehow and he's finding it really difficult to just walk around our house. So please pray that he will be healed, that he won't need surgery or anything like that, and that he'll be able to play basketball soon :)
Thanks friends.

Friday, January 02, 2009

A picture a day...

Kelsi Wilson has the fabulous idea to take a picture a day in 2009. So I've decided, although I'm not really the best at keeping resolutions, I'm going to try this one.

So here's my picture from yesterday:

Seems a little boring (and wrinkly) but I'm so happy that Joel (and Tyler) put up these curtains! Finally...no more staring a blank white blinds!

Today's pictures are from my classroom. I decided to give you a little tour of my room to start off the year.

This is the front of my room. On the whiteboard is the Promethean board that makes my job so much easier.

Morning message for Monday.

Bulletin board with class jobs.

I was so organized today and made copies of morning work for Monday. I though I could put the finished ones on my classroom door.

This is the back of my room, and those cabinets hide my desk. I totally recommend doing this for 2 reasons:
1) I never sit at my desk during class time because I can't see the class.
2) I can keep my desk however I want and it's unseen.

My desk. So sad.

The side of a cabinet: notes to myself.

I like this because it's "my" space. Generally, no one goes back there. Although I have seen a parent poke around a couple of times...

This is what the reading table looks like on a teacher workday. Or a planning period.

This has saved me so many headaches, because instead of being interrupted by 15 questions during reading groups, I get about 15 sticky notes thrown in my face.

It helps.

Well, I have a messy classroom but there it is.

I have some funny videos of Grace Elizabeth, Laura's sweet little girl, but I'm not sure how to shorten them. Anybody know?

G.E., do you know?