Thursday, December 23, 2010

Whatever comes...

This week, I had the stomach bug on Monday. I am so thankful for the teachers who helped me out so I could do a whole lot of sitting during the day. A wonderful room parent basically ran my afternoon party...such a blessing! That afternoon, I went to bed at 3:45 pm, watched a few episodes of the Office, and didn't really get out of bed till 6am the next morning. I couldn't get a sub for Tuesday, but thankfully my fever broke and the day went relatively well. Just a scuffle between two of my kids at the Nutcracker and complaints that my homework passes I gave out weren't unlimited, but we had so many candy canes, it didn't make a difference.

Tuesday afternoon brought with it the realization that both of our cars needed hundreds of dollars worth of repairs, and Wednesday brought a busted dryer.

But today brought the peace of the Lord that whatever comes, we shall endure.

This year, I have learned that His purposes for me are so very good. Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Nothing. The peace that brings is immeasurable, and this Christmas, I'm so thankful.

Friday, December 10, 2010


This week has been a whirlwind of change. We had a dance teacher use my room for three days out of the week, so my class was nomadic (shoulda taught them that word) on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Thursday, we would spend time clearing a space for the dance teacher and then putting our desks back together.

I am not a person who is crazy about routine. I like a bit of change. But I also know, as a person who cannot focus on anything, that changes in routine make my head a jumbled mess of to-do list items that I can't quite seem to remember. Little things just did not get accomplished this week, and I am going to have to be ok with that.

All in all, I'm very proud of my kids. They never complained about moving around this week. The change in routine for them, however, made them...rambunctious, to say the least. I felt like I spent a lot of the week herding cattle. Do any other teachers feel that way?

But I'm thankful for this class. They are a bunch of very funny, very friendly kids. I had this moment this evening with Joel. We decided to watch Psych in the bedroom and make a dinner of salt and vinegar chips and ginger molasses cookies, and I realized that things are okay. We live in an extremely comfortable house, especially now that we have heat for the first time in 2 years :). We really like each other. We're sending out a super cute Christmas card. I have some extra money to replace my Target jeans that have a hole in them. I get to sleep in tomorrow. Seriously, can it get any better? I am blessed.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A first time for everything

I am normally not a greeting card kind of person, but when I found out that Shutterfly is doing this promo of 50 free Christmas cards, I couldn't pass it up! I think this is a pretty sweet deal, and I wanted to pass this promotion to y'all.

This evening (on the anniversary of our engagement:) we got all dressed up AFTER the gym. The hubs was so helpful in posing for cheesy pictures, and I loved it. We even wore matchy outfits. We are not so photogenic but we came out with some cute pictures, and Shutterfly has some templates that will hopefully make our pictures better! I'm really excited to send out Christmas cards that show us in all our coordinated outfit flory. I am so hoping these cards end up sticking to a fridge near you. When you go to sneak some leftover pumpkin pie this holiday season, our smiling faces will be greeting you warmly.

Here are some of my favorite choices:

How cute are these?

If I were you, I'd head on over to Shutterfly and take advantage of these cute cards.
You can browse photo card templates here, regular Christmas cards here, or New Year's invitations here.
There are hundreds of choices, so make sure you set aside some time for browsing.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A pay-off

A few weeks ago, our IRT told us in a meeting that kids need to see things 5-7 times before they actually retain the information. While I know repetition is so important, this number has stuck with me since then.

Enter my most recent "AHA" moment in teaching.

The problem: The majority of my students could not figure out, from a word problem, how to divide. For example, I would give them this word problem: Maria has 36 pieces of candy. She wants to give them to 9 friends. If she gives each friend the same amount, how many pieces of candy will each friend receive?

They had a lot of trouble figuring out the operation, and then writing the division number sentence correctly. Mostly, they would just quit when they saw a word problem.

The solution:
For 5 straight days, I gave my whole class a division word problem for morning work. They couldn't go on to the next assignment until they had correctly solved the word problem. That means that I had a conference with each individual kid every single day on their problem solving skills. Morning work has been taking forever!

The pay-off: All but TWO of my kids passed the multiplication/division test last week!
Bonus: This was a two-day week, so it was not worth anything to begin a new math objective. Therefore, we gave our classes 4 pretty difficult word problems that reviewed all of the math objectives we've been learning this quarter (not just division). They were all Thanksgiving themed, so it wasn't all boring :) I had an intervention teacher in my room on Monday during math, and at the end, she commented how my students were really attacking the word problems. NONE of my kids got visibly frustrated, even when they had to spend the whole period on one problem.

The lesson:
Morning work should be taking about 30 minutes, and up until this point, I've been pretty strict about this schedule. But since I decided to spend as much time as it took until they "got it", my kids were able to apply problem solving strategies to really difficult word problems, which is something they weren't willing to do before.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sick day

There's been a fatigue-inducing cold swirling around our house this week, so I'm home sick for the day. My plans for today at school were to make landforms with play-doh, use Google Earth, have a good family meeting...but colds always settle in my throat, and yesterday I just lost my voice. It's pretty tough to manage kids without a voice. That and a tummy ache were enough for me to take the day off. I'm so glad I did, although I always feel a twinge of guilt when I take the day off. But... I got to sleep for a whole 10 hours. What an amazing feeling!

I'm just really hoping I can go out for a couple of hours tonight for Cornhuskin'! Tomorrow is a big day: the magnet fair, a friend in town for the weekend, and Meredith's birthday! Praying that I can shake this dumb cold and get back to busy-ness :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A very lazy weekend

I am terrible about taking pictures. Sorry guys. Maybe when I have kids, I'll have something cute to photograph. But my adventures are rarely worthy of a picture. So you just get the written synopsis.

A recap of life lately:

We went to the fair...twice.
This is THE LIST of food that we ate (together). We also always include bites of food, regardless of whether or not we bought the food ourselves. Thankful for friends that share :)

Day 1:
-Hand dipped corn dogs
-Fried pecan pie
-Fried honey bun
-Farmer's Market biscuit
-Ribbon fries
-Red velvet candy apple
-Funnel cake
-The Krispy Kreme burger (no regrets)

Day 2:
-Roasted corn
-Fried oreos
-Bloomin' onion
-Fried cookie dough
-Apple pie candy apple
-Kettle corn
-NC State ice cream

Needless to say, we do not ride the rides. Not only are we a bit scared of things assembled in a week that hurtle you into the air, but our tummies hurt enough after all that food.

In school, the quarter just ended. Sorry for all the assessments, kids. I'm pretty proud of myself this year-half of my conferences are already scheduled and all my grades are finished! Unfortunately, I couldn't log in to type my report cards this weekend, so I'll have to work extra hard at work this week to finish them. I also started a word work program I've been meaning to start for 2 years! FINALLY :)

This weekend, we started off by watching Hocus Pocus with some friends (thanks, Kornegays!) Scary movies and I do not get along. I used to try to watch them with friends, but in the past couple of years I've realized that it's just not worth it for me. I am generally disturbed by trying to be entertained by evil things, not to mention the fact that I'm jumpy for days after watching a scary movie. So I'm thankful for friends that are willing to watch a old kids movie on Halloween!

Yesterday we visited the farmer's market, ate a delicious meal from Whole Foods (and then regretted how ridiculously expensive it was) and I baked some lemon-pistachio cookies. We spent the rest of the day sleeping or lounging. Man, was it nice.

Today, I returned to helping out in the nursery! It's been a few months since I've been in the nursery, and of course it made me have some baby fever. Thankfully, I can satisfy that with holding some super cute babies a couple of times a month :)

I'm excited about:
1) my favorite unit to teach starting this week!
2) the holidays are right around the corner
3) I can wear my boots consistently.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Hitting a Wall

Well, it's October 8. I started school on August 17. I genuinely enjoy this class. Really, I do. But today, I hit a wall. Lack of sleep + tummyache this afternoon may have contributed a bit to this. Regardless, I'm thankful for a relaxing evening with the hubs. I am also so thankful that I don't have to go through these days alone. I need to be reminded that the Lord knows the day I'll have before I have it, and He's in control of even the little things. When I'm tired and weak, He is so strong.

Today, my class made compost bags. (I drove 25 minutes to Bayleaf U.S.A., a live bait shop, to but 132 night crawlers. I met the nicest store owner in the world. He's the kind of person that would make me want to take up fishing, just so I could frequent the store.) Anyway, I took my class outside in this beautiful weather to make compost bags with huge, wiggly worms. It took my whole morning, a bust because I ran out of time for writing, and I had an awesome lesson prepared. Eek.

I am no longer a rookie teacher. I'm a couple of years in, and I actually have files for each unit. I have gotten to the point where I'm reflecting and changing things. That part is really exciting. I like making my own decisions in the classroom as to what I want to do.
I've also realized I'm a big picture kind of teacher. I know where I want my students to go and what I want them to understand, but I have trouble figuring out how to get them there. So this year I've tried to make each mini-lesson extremely explicit and to informally assess more often along the way.
Today, this was why I hit the wall. I assessed on a couple of objectives in the past couple of days. I had my students predict what would happen to the grass in the compost bags. Half couldn't do it. We took a quiz. Most bombed. I went through an EOG prep about poetry. Near-disaster. Maybe the problem was that it was Friday, or that it was 85 degrees in my classroom, or that I assessed too early or too much. But I almost cried. We ended the day with a family meeting where I discussed:
1) Which problems can be solved on our own (My pencil broke. Where do I put this pushpin? Do we have homework on Friday? I found a piece of paper on the floor.)
2) Is what I'm saying helpful or important? (It's hot in here. Why is it so hot in here? The window's open and now it's loud.)
3) Hygiene. (We don't pick our noses in third grade. We wash our hands everytime we use the bathroom.)

I read one of my favorite picture books, Smoky Night by Eve Bunting. I love Eve Bunting. She writes these amazing picture books that I literally would read to a high school class if I could. They delve into very deep issues, like the L.A. riots, war, immigration, and homelessness. The books always end in hope, and for some of my kids, that's a big deal. The issues raised in her books are not all foreign to my students, and for some hit much closer to home that a book about a birthday party. I wish you could listen in on the discussions I have with kids. I love how it clicks when they find the symbol for hope in each book, like the bird in Fly Away Home or the fish in Gleam and Glow.

I also read Dreams by Langston Hughes. It was pretty tough for my low-readers, but the higher readers ate it up. They really understand, as well as a third grader can, the metaphors for dreams. It was awesome to hear them talk about their goals in life.

Again, sometimes I get too "big picture." I have to remember that they're only 8. But hearing them get really excited about something that isn't Diary of a Wimpy Kid is too wonderful to pass up.

On the home front, things are wonderful. We've been through some things recently and especially in the past couple of weeks that I thought could have driven us apart. But instead, praise the Lord, they have united us. We discovered how on the same page we were about a lot of things, and I am exceedingly grateful for that.

Sadly, tonight we couldn't go to see my beloved Avett Brothers. Way too expensive. So we consoled ourselves with a trip to Target for some necessary odds and ends and a dinner at Wendy's. Oh, domesticity. The best part is that neither of us are upset about this. On a Friday, there's nothing better than a carefree evening of no responsibility and complete lounging.

(And now, I am unbelievably thankful to Christie, who was fortunate enough to attend the Avett Brothers, and who just called me during one of my favorite songs ever.)

Please listen. I hope your heart melts like mine does. It makes me want to go back in time and change the month of my wedding.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recent outings and readings and and and.

Our date to the Rose Garden on Labor Day. Sometimes when I take pictures, I cut off the top of Joel's head.
Somebody's been working out.


Date night at Caribou. My stack of professional literature is growing exponentially.
Deep in thought...maybe about NC State football?

I am aware that it has been 1 million years since I have updated. I actually don't use a computer at home during the week at all, and when I take my computer home on the weekend, I only use it on Saturday mornings.

School is going really well. It didn't take long for me to fall in love with this class. I am finding myself a little overwhelmed with the stack of books I have chosen to read...Writer's Workshop books, Reader's Workshop books, assessment guides. Sometimes I forget that there are only 24 hours in the day. I've decided to save my novels for the beach.

Currently, I'm really excited for fall. Apples, pumpkins, boots, fall leaves, still my beating heart. To celebrate, last week my class worked with a super cute poem about fall, and we're all wearing plaid on Tuesday. I figured that was a weird/fun way to celebrate autumn's arrival. Friday, we're going to have our first writing celebration as we publish How-Tos, and I'm pretty excited about the scrabble edition Cheez-its for snack. So cute.

I think it's time to go shopping for fall today. I'll let you know.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

weekend notes

Nothing special, just a restful weekend.

I made pizza for my parents yesterday. Thanks, Martha Stewart. Lately, my dinners have been so-so. I have realized that I am not a good cook. I can bake, but I'm really not a great cook. The hubs has lovingly started cooking, taking some work off of my hands. His food is a-ma-zing. His secret: fat. He is willing to deep fry things and smother them in butter, and he chooses thinks like pork chops and steak rather than lean turkey and chicken. I close my eyes to pretend that the food is healthy. I refuse to believe the calories count when your husband makes dinner.

Thankfully, my husband is also a fabulous personal trainer, so we headed off to the gym after lunch. I am never excited about going to the gym, but since we've been working out fairly consistently for the past few months, I can see some great changes. I feel a lot healthier, and it's helping our marriage because we're interested in this together.

Today, I think my body realized the Lord set aside this day to be a day of rest. I am completely exhausted. I barely woke up for church, and have had zero energy all day.

Our pastor included a story of a teacher who specially touched a student's life, a boy who had lost his mother to cancer. I realize the story was one often included in email forwards, but I could not help the waterworks. I love a good teacher story. I've seen all the movies. It doesn't matter how cheesy the plot is, how terrible the acting, how predictable the ending: if it's an inspirational tale of a teacher reaching out to her students, I will cry. Every. Single. Time.

It's 8:42. I'm going to bed.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Happy first week of school!

I have never been pregnant, but I am comparing the first week of school to preparing for the baby and then taking care of him. I spent so much of August working on school stuff, and when August 25 rolled around, I realized the work had just begun.

The difficult part about the first day of school is the fact that my third graders come in, for all intents and purposes, as second graders. And second graders who have had two months off. I just forget, is all. I forget that they need to be taught how to sharpen a pencil, and where to keep their markers, and to wash their hands each time they go to the bathroom. I forget that they don't know me, they don't think I'm funny, they are terrified of third grade, and they are definitely not independent students.

I also really miss my kids from last year. I knew them so well, and when they come back to hug me before they head on to the big fourth grade, my heart just melts.

I'll be honest, it's hard to like this new group of kids on the first day.

Day two is a little easier. I've introduced all of my procedures, but they don't remember a single one. I spend a lot of our morning repeating instructions. Over and over. "Please remember to raise your hand." "Remember, your homework folder goes in your bookbag at the end of each day." "We're quiet in the hallway, don't forget!"

Of course, I forgot to turn in those forms to the office...again.

But today, today was different.

Today, I started teaching. I got into some actual content. I set up my reader's and writer's workshop. They worked on some real math. I did running records. I finally got my head above water, and during my planning period, I read through the surveys I had parents fill out during Open House.

I loved their answers. Reading through the responses, I was reminded how special these little guys are to their moms and dads. I loved hearing what they're interested in, and how parents ask me to deal with discipline issues ("no dessert works!"). "We're big goofs at home." "He's very close to his family."

Yesterday, we drafted a "Promise to Each Other." It's a little cheesy, but straight out of Debbie Miller's Reading with Meaning, and she's pretty much amazing.This morning, I woke up early to get vanilla wafers and animal crackers. I got to school early, cut some butcher paper and taped a border around the paper. Before lunch, we had a "signing ceremony." I played Jack Johnson's "With My Own Two Hands" and we snacked while the kids went up, one at a time. Later, I almost fell on my face, standing on a table to tack the promise on the wall.

At the end of the day, we had our first family meeting. They complimented each other, wrestled when I turned my back, and danced to our pack- up song at the end of the day.

All in all, a great first week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Need grocery help!

I know so many of you are coupon masters! I talked with a good friend yesterday (Thanks Mary Kate) and am so inspired again to figure out this grocery thing. The thought of being able to save hundreds is so exciting...but I'm really unsure with how to get started.
Here are my concerns:
1) Does anyone have a coupon for the Sunday paper? Or do you know how I can find one?
2) Do you shop at one grocery store a week? I doubt I have time to shop at more than Target and one other store...I definitely don't want to store hop!
3) Do you still eat healthy foods?
4) How long did it take you to really start saving money?
5) How did you organize all your coupons? And where do you get them?

Please help!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Here are things from tonight:

1) I made a terrible dinner. Really and truly, it was awful. It was good to start with but then I had to let it sit for an hour until the hubs came home, and in that time it turned to mushy yuckiness and not delicious stir fry. But do not fear! I made triple chocolate cookies and Joel ate no less that FIVE donuts. He works out a lot.

2) I've been going to the gym with him a few times a week. Because of these ridiculous things called dead lifts, my back is desperate for pillows. I am not injured. Just lacking in muscle tone.

3) I am starting to get a little bored. This is wonderful news because it means I am ready for school! I made curtains for my classroom that have super cute polka dots.

4) I am enjoying the following qualities in my husband from the past week:
-He killed bugs even when I was much closer or he was very tired. I never had to go near them. I could stand on the couch and point and it was just fine with him.
-He did not make me feel bad about my crappy dinner. In fact, he ate it all. That's love.
-He helped me with so many classroom things and even let me talk to him about boring classroom curtains.
-He always makes time to go to the lake with me to "run," even though most of the time we end up talking and walking instead (per my request).
-He has turned out to be a much better cook than I am. Great, 'cause I'm not an Iron Chef.
-He is a great hugger.
-He will always discuss things like our school system and NPR programs and he'll listen to Radiolab with me, but also, we've watched a ton of Simpsons episodes.
-He always reaches for my hand in public.

5) Back to other random things. I love Radiolab. Have I mentioned that? It's a science program on NPR that makes me extremely happy. You should look it up right now. Also, I love the Big Bang Theory. I don't understand half of what they talk about, but it is about the nerdiest, most hilarious sitcom on right now. Netflix it now.

6) I got to spend the day with Laura and her babies and Erin. And Laura, you are such a good mommy. I am floored. And I am just in love with those girls.


Monday, August 09, 2010

Classroom ideas

Because I googled "classroom door decor" ideas for days, I thought I'd add my classroom ideas here in case anyone else wants a little inspiration.

Last year, I did an explorer theme. For my door decoration, I found clip art of an old map and typed their names in old-timey font over the maps. I stretched it a bit by including rainforest graphics on the board, and an island getaway theme in the reading corner. We did things like using Time for Kids to read about different countries, using Google Earth, naming each table after a country that we then "explored", mapping out news stories we had heard for an entire semester, and at the end of the year we mapped out all of the countries we had learned about that year. It was really exciting for them to see so many dots all over the globe!

This year, I'm going with a spy/detective theme. I think it'll be fun, because I have many more boys than girls, but what kid doesn't love a mystery? I totally stole this idea from, but my slogan on the door will be "It's no mystery... third grade is great!"
Their names are written on sunglasses, magnifying glasses, and footprints. For their desks, I made my own nameplates in publisher with the same clip art. The bulletin board will display some "top secret" information and be surrounded with caution tape. Thanks to my good friend Meredith, the caution tape includes the words in English and Spanish, perfect for our Spanish magnet school.

At Meet the Teacher night, I'll have the information for parents in a "Top Secret" manila folder. For the kids, I'll have a cryptogram for them to solve while their parents fill out paperwork.

I'm about to head to my classroom to brainstorm some other ideas. I'm also excited to hang up the curtains I made yesterday! :) To be continued...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

The End is Near...

Summer is wrapping up folks. I know, I have a little over a week left of No Responsibilities, but I figure I should start getting myself in the back- to- school mindset.

My birthday was last week, two days after our anniversary. Joel got me this necklace that I have been wanting forever:
It's from, and I love everything she sells! We had a great day of relaxing by the pool, going to see Inception, and eating homemade potato chips and chocolate cake for dinner.

Joel was also very helpful in getting my classroom set up this week! Walking into that room after 2 months is OVERWHELMING, mostly because I have a hard time visualizing where I want everything to go. Boxes are stacked up and books are's no fun. But Joel came in and helped me figure out how to best set up my desks, reading area, bookshelves, etc. I decided to get rid of my desk finally. I've been wanting to do that for a while, so I was very thankful to have a big strong man to carry it outside! I think I'll have to work in my room a bit to make sure I like everything before I post pictures of it on the blog. The biggest change is that now I have rows of desks instead of groups of six desks. This change hurt my heart a little bit. I am a big fan of partner work and cooperative learning; however, the Promethean board in my classroom is in a place that many kids weren't able to see it when they sat at grouped desks. Last year, this was a hassle. It led to many kids having to work extra just to pay attention to the board, or getting up and moving away from their groups (thus defeating the purpose of the group). Joel helped me set the desks up in theater style rows, making sure every student had at least one partner.
I hope this will work, but I'm a little unsure.

We went to Target last night and picked up lots of cheap school supplies: Crayola markers for $1, a step stool for $2.50 and a mirror so I can see the "blind spots" in my classroom for $5. Not too bad.

This summer, I haven't gotten as much done as I had originally anticipated. But I am thankful for so many things. I have loved every minute of this break...I feel refreshed and renewed. I have had time for the things I've neglected, especially going to the gym. I haven't really lost weight, but I feel a lot healthier having gone most days to work out. I've been able to read a couple of books. I thought I'd feel bored midway through the summer, and Joel and I both thought we'd get sick of each other after a while. Neither of those things have happened, to my delight. We are very, very thankful for our time together and haven't taken a second of it for granted. Who knows the next opportunity we'll have for 2 months of quality time? I apologize to those of you who have gagged during this paragraph :)

Keep checking for classroom pictures!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Happy Anniversary to us :)

Today marks 2 years.

Today is kind of a big deal.

Joel went out for a couple of hours this morning to "run some errands."

He came back with these:

And an idea:

We had a picnic at the arboretum, where we had our reception.

Let me tell you what was in that picnic basket:
A NoFo lunch consisting of a grilled pimento cheese sandwich for him (sans one bite), a shrimp BLT for me, sweet potato fries, fresh fruit, and the pièce de résistance: an Oreo cupcake from Whole Foods.

Oh baby, you sure do get me.

Sadly, the mosquitoes ate us alive. I kept trying to get "just one more picture" and quit when we were so squinty from the sun that our pictures looked like this:Joel looks a bit pained. But he's not because he got new Under Armor from me.

Happy day.


I recently finished Timothy Keller's The Reason for God. This morning, I'm reflecting on this passage:

"The Biblical view of things is resurrection-not a future that is just a consolation for the life we never had but a restoration of the life you always wanted. This means that every horrible thing that ever happened will not only be undone and repaired but will in some way make the eventual glory and joy even greater...

Jesus insisted that His return will be with such power that the very material world and universe will be purged of all decay and brokenness. All will be healed and all might-have-beens will be."

I am so thankful for the God of redemption.

I'm not an expert on religions, but from what I've read I understand that most major religions try to tackle this concept of sin. We call it very, very different things, and understand it's origin in different ways. But there is no denying that there is something wrong with us. Man has a problem.

It's always tempting for me to ascribe to the idea that desire is what causes suffering.

Paula Rinhart, one of my very favorite authors/speakers, writes in Strong Women Soft Hearts:

"Disowning desire saves us from having to wade through some really difficult places in our lives. When we deaden desire,
-We don't have to fave the disappointment of a lost dream;
-We save ourselves from doing the slow and tedious work of repairing a broken relationship;
-We don't have to sweat through trusting God with the things we don't understand; and
-We can avoid, a little longer, our fear of what others will think."

I just love this:
"God made our spirit to respond to Him-to hunger and desire beyond ourselves that which is wholly other, Holy Other. He made us incomplete-with gaps, holes, yearnings, desires that woo us to our real home. We make a big mistake if we toss our longings away lightly...Christianity begins with an invitation to desire."

"Given that we live on the far side of Eden and that this world will always fall short, desire will lead to pain as often as pleasure... How we see pain determines, in large part, the life of our hearts."

I totally get her. I get this.

And living in the memory of Eden is what makes me so very thankful for redemption. Jesus died to redeem all that was broken, and not only to fix it but to make it better. That is something to be joyful about, even during trials.

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19

Saturday, July 24, 2010


The hubs and I spent the last week in Murray, KY and Olive Branch, Ms.

Now we are exhausted.

Memaw and Pepaw, Joel's grandparents, were kind enough to host us in their beautiful house for 5 days. We did super exciting things like play cards and go to Dairy Queen. But really, I love them. They may be the most amiable people on the planet.
We mostly loved "small town life" for a week. It was pretty special to drive on country roads, surrounded by barns and various farm animals/crops, listening to Allison Krauss and Emmy Lou Harris.

Days 6, 7, and 8 of our trip were spent in the Memphis suburb of Olive Branch with Tyler. We are ribs at Rendezvous. That was a huge deal.

Thanks Tyler :)

Now we are back in our slightly messy house, and rumor on the street is that Target has a grocery store now, so that's a big deal in my life.

Upcoming events in my very eventful life:
1) Our anniversary is Monday.
2) By birthday is Wednesday.
[I am extremely excited about both of these things.]
School starts back in less than a month. I'm actually warming up to the idea!

[stop laughing. I know, the second my alarm goes off at 5:45 I will eat my words.]

Super boring

I think my background on the blog broke. So I deleted it. And now nothing will work. So for now, I have an extremely boring background.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Washington, D.C.

This weekend, I went to D.C. with my mom and brother. I got to see lots of museums, but took few pictures. We did watch the fireworks last night, which was awesome.
(My awesome brother and half of me.)

When I returned, Joel had a surprise for me! He had bought an awesome red bookshelf at the fairgrounds and filled it perfectly. He even organized the rest of the kitchen and cleaned the house.
(We kind of love Coke products...)

The Cutie Robinson girls

A couple of weeks ago, I got to hang out with my favorite Nugget and her new baby sister. This girl is hilarious. She looks like such a big girl here!
And little Eleanor (peach fuzz), you are just as sweet as your sister!

Laura and Caleb, you sure do have some pretty babies!
Thanks for letting me play :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Don't hate...

....but both of us having 2 whole months off is awesome. Honestly, this is the very first summer since 7th grade that I haven't worked in some way, and while I realize I am quite feels like a much deserved break. Joel and I have learned some things about how we spend time off, and it's pretty different. He's the type to work out at the gym for three straight hours and then veg for the rest of the day. I, on the other hand, maintain a constant state of low-intensity activity (tidying up the house, running errands, starting projects, etc) while managing to not find enough time for a workout that lasts longer than an hour :) We're pretty glad, though, that we talked through this different early on this vacation. It's one of those conversations you never have to have until you're in the same house together for weeks on end.
Our current summer hobbies include:
-DVDs of Psych
-Watching the World Cup
-Hanging out by the pool and going to the gym
-Perusing Hunt and Gather, our favorite antique store
-Shopping at the Farmer's Market
-Laughing a lot.

I've been trying to plan ahead for the school year, especially by thinking through some ideas I had about how to improve writing instruction in my classroom. Do any other teachers just get dragged down by writing? I am a HUGE fan of teaching science and social studies-the kids' questions seem to guide most of our lessons and I have a high interest in the material. Math is hands-on, for the most part, and can move at a quicker pace. Even reading is enjoyable, because students can choose their own books, and I love modeling with my favorite read-alouds. But so many of my students last year hated writing, and I found myself 1) baffled by their writing dilemmas and 2) bored out of my mind with the constant conferences. So I'm trying something new this year, hoping to integrate the writing instruction in more of the other subjects that are high interest. I'll keep you posted.

So in summary, I am super thankful for our vacation together. I'm thankful for this time that the Lord has given to rest and relax, but also to gear up for another year of teaching and to strengthen our marriage. His timing really is perfect, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I started reading through Psalms 4 months ago. Daily, I'm astounded at the Psalmist's...normalcy. Those emotions, wonders, and trials can apply to so much of everyday life, and it is so true that "There is nothing new under the sun." In February, I heard someone mention that the Psalms never say IF trials come but instead talk about WHEN trials come.

I once had this deal, of sorts, with God. It went something like this:

"Ok, God, if you will just make sure <> works out and <> is always here, I know I will be ok."

It's like I created my own bubble that I thought I had control over, forgetting completely that I'm actually in control of very little.

What I've learned is just how fearful I was of that very worst thing. Paula Rinehart spoke about this idea of "IFs." She says that we so often live in the If onlys and What ifs, but God is telling us to live in the Even ifs. And I heard the Lord very clearly say to me, "Even if your 'worst thing' happens, you will be ok." Because it turns out, the real worst thing to me is that I would be separated from the Lord. And it turns out that there are worse things than those trials. And to me, the real tragedy is living in the "If onlys" and "what ifs." I am terrified of bitterness. Maybe I'm prone to more cynicism that your average person, but I have come to realize that forgiveness and letting go (although a daily process) is necessary to me having a free heart.

And I've learned that the Bible makes no promises that certain people will always be here or certain events won't take place. What the Psalms repeat over and over again is that the Lord is our shield, our stronghold, our Comforter and Protector. He is the sustainer of life. EVEN IF, the Lord is present. EVEN IF, you are not alone.

It's really tempting to build up walls of protection to guard against those "biggest fears." But the Lord created us for relationship, and to give of ourselves to others. And doing that inevitably involves incredible risk. Love is the riskiest of businesses. On good days, I know this. But not everyday is a good day.

One of my all-time favorite songs is by Caedmon's Call. It's called "Table for Two" and it's and oldie but a goodie.

Cause You knew how You'd save me
before I fell dead in the garden,

And You knew this day long before You made me out of dirt.

And You know the plans that You have for me
And You can't plan the end and not plan the means

I highly suggest and immediate iTunes download.

So I'm on Psalm 140, which means that I have only a few days left. I'd love to do a Beth Moore study...any recommendations?
The first official days of summer have proved insanely productive for us. We went to the beach with Joel’s family last week, but these past couple of days were the first we’ve spent with no real timetable at home.

Yesterday, we literally woke up at 7am to go to the gym. While I was incredibly cranky, it ended up being really fun, and my arms are very sore today. Somehow, even doing the minimal amount of weight on the machines can still rip them muscles up.

After running several errands, including buying some super cute leaf green paint for some bookshelves, we relaxed by the pool and ate Pasta Puttanesca leftovers (delish).

Today, our schedules didn’t match up so much, but I got all of this done:

Got a haircut at Lather Salon

Made homemade pizza dough and individual pizzas for dinner

My pizza (half eaten and blurry): pesto shrimp

Lemon cranberry pecan muffins

While listening to my favorite podcast: Radiolab

Watered my pretty tomato plant

Before picture of one of the bookshelves (Laura, I think these used to be Caleb’s!)

Primer on one of the bookshelves. I decided to finish the job later this week, because it looked like it was going to rain. The skies are clear now, but I sure will enjoy The Office marathon instead!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

No way to sum it up, but I'm back!

It has been a while, I know. Life has been hectic these past few months, and blogging has seemed the silliest way to document all of life's changes. But since I religiously read the blogs of close friends, I figure it must not be so narcissistic. Or maybe it is, but we're all ok with it.

I finished this second year of teaching and was actually sad to see my kiddos go. I feel like I really improved and became a much more professional educator. I wish I could post pictures of the cuties but with weirdos on the internet, I'd rather not. Suffice it to say I had the most precious class of 8 and 9 year olds.

The team I had the privilege of working with was AMAZING. Together, we went to Belize over spring break to work in a school. Our students had been collecting books and school supplies all year, and in lieu of shipping the items, we decided to go! I'm so very thankful for a group of teachers that stepped out of the boat together and decided to make a very meaningful impact. Needless to say, the experience was priceless for us and incredibly important for our kids. It helped them realize that taking action was possible, and didn't just mean donating money. We had really supportive parents and administration, and are even partnering with the school in Belize to continue this relationship.
(We got to read to some of the students during their break, a cutie was completely willing to oblige to our paparazzi-style of photography, we climbed some incredibly Mayan ruins, we met a new friend, Dubsy, who is literally carrying 6 iguanas. No lie.)


Like I said, life has been hectic and the Lord is so faithful. These verses can really sum up the past few months for me:
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD|
in the land of the living.

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27:13, 14

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

Psalm 116:1-2


For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,

that I may walk before the LORD
in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:8-9

I am astounded by the works He has done and hopeful for what He will do. One of the most meaningful books I've read recently is Better Than My Dreams by Paula Rinehart. I highly recommend it...but have a highlighter handy. It's a quotable book.


Joel and I are looking forward to a couple of months off. We love our jobs, sometimes specifically because of our vacation! So here's to a much-needed rest and reconnection.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

I did it!

This year, I set a goal to finally make edible homemade bread.

As you may recall, I tried to make bread last Thanksgiving, and it was so terrible I threw all three loaves away. Joel was not sad to see them go.

With much trepidation this snow holiday, I decided to try again. I took Martha Stewart's recipe from this month's issue (which also has lovely ideas for Valentine's Day-be still my beating heart!)

I didn't take pictures because my hands were completely covered in bread dough most of the time, but I'm not cheating you out of anything spectacular. My goal was to make edible bread. And it is, in fact, safe for consumption, while beautiful and delicious it is not. Part of the issue is that I made it with yucky brown whole wheat flour, instead of fluffy, white, nutrient-lacking all purpose flour. (My other goal was to maintain my weight, you know.) But I made two successful loaves that were quite tasty when paired with eggs this morning and homemade chicken salad for lunch.

I've also made granola bars, biscuits, Joel's birthday cake, and now some delish chili.

Other things I've done over this break: Continued reading Roxanna Slade and In Defense of Food, working on a talk I'm giving at youth group in a couple of weeks (gulp), and bought the EA Sports Active for the Wii. I've done two days of it, and suffice it to say that (as long as I do it everyday) I'll be reaching my health goal. But I doubt I'll be walking. That game has 'bout to' up my legs.

I also made a superbly cute and interactive flipchart for my math class. So I haven't totally forgotten my chosen profession the last few days.

It's exhausting to do this, but I must document it here if nowhere else. I am making a couple of other goals. I want to start running again. I'll run here and there (you know, once every other month), but I want to be able to say again without white-lying that I am a runner. I ran cross country and track in high school. I always came in last. But run everyday, I did. I know I can do it again, I just need some cute new running shoes....right?

The next goal makes me a little embarrassed, but considering I have already confessed to liking Party in the U.S.A. and Twilight, I'm sure you've already lost all respect for me. I want to start reading Harry Potter. Half of my students read it. My husband has read it through a few times. And I'm completely out of the loop. So once I'm finished with this post, I'm going to open the book. I've set this goal a few times, on long trips mostly, but have always deferred to some Clyde Edgerton book instead. Sorcerer's Stone has remained tattered from my travel bag but not dog-eared from actually reading it. I'm not sure I'll really understand what the big fuss is about. But I've said that before (haven't I, Edward Cullen?).

And lastly, everyone should go buy the Avett Brother's newest album, I and Love and You. There are songs on that album that are as a good as a kiss. I sincerely hope the hubs and I can go to Merlefest on May 2nd to see our new favorite band play.

Any predictions on school tomorrow? My guess is a 2-hour delay...the roads seem to be a lot clearer. And I wouldn't complain about sleeping in one last time :)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Happy birthday!

My wonderful hubs turned 29 yesterday, and we spent the day snowed in. I have several pictures, but I've misplaced my camera cord. I'll add them when I find it.

We had big plans for the day-a trip to Chapel Hill and a evening full of friends and birthday cake. I was so very disappointed when I found out that snow was in the forecast. I really wanted his day to be special, and we were looking forward to seeing our friends.

But we went for a walk Friday night as the snow began to fall, which was just lovely and peaceful. It was really nice to be able to relax yesterday as I just finished report cards this week. I was thoroughly exhausted, and Joel probably slept a total of 20 hours the entire week. I can't even describe how wonderful the hot cocoa was after our hour long walk in the morning, and my afternoon nap on the couch was pure bliss.

I baked him a birthday cake with homemade buttercream icing. It fell apart when I took it out of the pan, but he didn't mind. We had beef stew and biscuits and watched lots of TV. I gave him a video game earlier in the week, but yesterday I gave him some HOT running shoes, and some new legal pads (he does not enjoy writing in a journal) and his favorite pens. He went for a long walk at night while I had some time to journal and read my new book:
While yesterday was relaxing, today has the makings of extreme productivity. Joel was really upset yesterday about not being able to go to the gym, so today he walked partway there until a friend could pick him up on a road that's been cleared. I tried to give him some advice on dealing with not going to the gym daily, but he wasn't really interested. I mean, once you have a couple of days without the gym, it's easy to go entire weeks without seeing a treadmill! It just takes practice.
Anyway, his dedication to the health has given me lots of free time to get little things done that otherwise would have been neglected. It's amazing how "quality time" (read: Lilly's Pizza dinners and DVDs of The Closer,) always wins out over cleaning out the fridge, reorganizing the cabinets, and dusting.

Schools are closed tomorrow, and I have dreams of making curtains like this for my classroom:

Maybe I'll go for another snowy walk. Or start a novel. Or try to make edible bread (so far, I've been unsuccessful).

I love days off.