Tuesday, April 8, 2014
I'm happy to report that after 13 different substitute assignments, I don't yet resemble the woman in this picture. Partly because I have spent most of those 13 days in the elementary school, the middle school I taught at, my son's middle school and my son's high school. I don't have any horrendous stories to share. My biggest challenges have been my own child addressing me by my first name in his English class and a second grader farting in his classmates face. (The primary grades are definitely not where it's at for me.)
One of my relatives, a retired teacher, sent me an email asking about my future plans. I told her that no jobs have been recently posted so in the meantime I continue to enjoy subbing. She replied: Umm...... "subbing and enjoy don't usually go in the same sentence." From the horror stories I've heard, this is typically true but for right now it really is the best of both worlds. I can say no if I don't feel like working and when I do take an assignment, it's like an auction (if you check the website and see a job posted, you know you need to snatch it up or someone else will in the next five minutes) followed by an acting job. Each time I click on "accept" I get to take on a role pretending to be someone I'm not. I've been the elementary school librarian, a seventh grade math teacher, a high school P.E. teacher and a second grade teacher. Each job has its pros and cons but all of them mean I get to spend the day with kids which is so energizing--even when they try to get away with their typical antics because I'm the clueless sub.
As my student teaching was nearing the end, I often said I hoped to get a short term leave replacement. This seemed like the best way to get your feet wet without having to make a contractual commitment. Last month, one of these positions came open at the alternative high school. It was a maternity leave that would start after spring break and end in June. I got an interview along with three other candidates but they ultimately chose the teacher who student taught in that classroom last year. It made perfect sense but I did feel a sting of rejection. Even though it's not where I ultimately want to be, I thought it wouldn't hurt my resume and would challenge me in ways beyond my limited scope of high school experience. But, alas, God has other plans so I'll continue to enjoy the ride and see what's on the horizon. Who knows, I might have ended up looking like the woman in the picture at the beginning of this post.
Tuesday, March 11, 2014
As the end of my time in the classroom was nearing the end, I was regularly being asked if I was going to walk at graduation, if I was going to have a party and how I was planning to celebrate. In answer to the first question, it's complicated but I'l try to simplify it. Because I was not earning another degree but a teaching certificate with an English endorsement, I wasn't qualified to participate in commencement. It is kind of silly being that I completed over 100 credits and spent the equivalent of a new vehicle during this process. But, I didn't feel strongly enough about it to make a stink. And because I knew the university would tack on another $100 or so if they made an exception. I wasn't about to pay them another cent.
Since I'm not one who enjoys having all eyes on me, I was hesitant about a big party. I did want to celebrate with those who supported and encouraged me along the way, though. I did agree that this was a huge accomplishment and one that should be recognized but, at this stage of life, it felt a little silly. Trey asked me to give him a list of the friends and family and offered to hold a graduation open house. It would be low key on a Sunday afternoon and guests could come and go as they pleased. He promised to do all the planning and preparing as long as I gave him some direction .Done. Because I rarely do anything like this, it felt so vulnerable and risky. And because of this, I knew I would take it hard if no one responded to the invitation or didn't show up. I should have gone with my gut.
Two weeks after he sent out the invitation, Trey got word that he'd be needed in California for a Monday morning meeting but required to arrive the day before. When? You guesssed it: the day the party was scheduled. I didn't have it in me to reschedule. Again, he promised that I wouldn't have to lift a finger but what were the chances of that, really?
I woke up that Sunday morning and went to the store to get ice. When I returned home, I left my phone in the car and went about my business inside. A couple hours later, I retrieved the phone only to find it full of messages from my Seattle friends and relatives that none of them were coming because of the snow. We had nary a snowflake and yet 90 miles south it was enough that no one would risk driving north. I decided to carry on, knowing my local friends would be there but suddenly I was overcome with emotion and tears and just didn't have it in me to put on a happy face for 20 people. I wasn't expecting to respond this way but instead of pretending, I gave in and let myself be sad. I called my close friend, who has been my biggest cheerleader and was coming early to help. When I broke down, she and another friend swung into high gear and rearranged the plans. They called everyone who was planning to attend and let them know not to come then rallied my closest girlfriends (who I should have just planned to celebrate with instead of having a party) and told me they'd pick me up at 5:00. I crawled back into my warm bed, had a good cry and slept off the afternoon.
The intimate celebration ended up being at one of my favorite restaurants followed by returning to my house and enjoying the overpriced cupcakes that were ordered for the occasion. It was such a sweet, loving gesture on behalf of my friends but looking back I realize that this was the beginning of my letting down and I had a hard time enjoying myself. I didn't recognize how emotionally and physically fragile I was now that this journey had culminated. I had been operating in survival modeand living on an adrenaline rush with deadlines hovering over me and hoops waiting to be jumped through for the better part of the last 3 years. It took its toll and my body was paying the price. My fragility made it such that a legitimate excuse felt like a huge rejection and I didn't have the reserve to see it for what it was. But it also made me realize how I needed to give in and rest. I literally slept away the next two days, caught a nasty cold and slept another day away.
As I write this, I'm a month removed and wish I could go back, have a do-over and be a little more rational. I wish I would have seen it coming and realized that a massive letdown was inevitable. Regardless, it can't take away from the reality that the verse I wrote on the front page of my journal in 2011 is as true now as it was back then.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Just when I thought life might slow down post graduation, it seemed to only switch into a higher gear. Less than 24 hours after completing my internship, Quinn and I were on a plane to Mile High City--the weekend before the Super Bowl. In the fall, he was able to tag along on a business trip of Trey's and check out Clemson and Duke. When I saw that his college wish list also included University of Colorado-Boulder and The Air Force Academy, I said, "I will accompany you on this trip." I also reminded him that it's rare for high school juniors to actually visit the campuses they are interested in. It just so happens that the 6 on his list all are located in cities where we have close friends or family. And we're always looking for a good excuse to visit them.
|At CU with "Ralphie"|
|Since they couldn't make my graduation party, we had our own little celebration. So sweet.|
|Ty loved his big cousin taking him for a ride in the laundry basket.|
|Storytime before bed.|
|About to enter the beautiful campus.|
|Everyone loved our poster mocking the naysayers.|
Monday, February 10, 2014
Three years, seven months and two days have resulted in this girl being a certified teacher!! My lack of posting is indicative of what an all-consuming, demanding profession teaching is. I honestly had no idea. The simple act of using the bathroom or making a phone call requires planning and speed and the cooperation of another staff member. Teaching the same lesson three times in a row with four minutes inbetween is impossible without a level of precision and energy that I never knew I had in me. Attempting to meet the physical,emotional and social needs of 112 students while hoping to teach them a thing or two about writing and reading is no small feat. And while many times I wanted to throw in the towel, after spending an entire day saying goodbye to those 11 and 12-year-olds who stole my heart, I have no doubt God has chosen the most rewarding profession in which to be spending my second career.
I had all kinds of activities planned for my last day but I had no idea that Wendy had the students each make me a personal card. If I had already been emotional, these sweet sentiments took it to a whole new level. What I loved was seeing the difference in how expressive the girls were versus the boys. The girls decorated their cards with glitter pens, drew hearts and smiley faces and every other girly touch. The boys got down to business, said what they wanted to say and wrote their names. End of story. These were my favorites from the guys: "Good luck with that teacher thingy." "You spent a lot of time on our class, at least it seemed like you did." "I spelled most every word right and that's prob because of you." "I hope you get a job, as good of a job as a teacher can get." "I'm still going to see you on the soccer field so there's no point in writing this letter." Every single one of the girls' notes made me smile but I took pictures of my favorites.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Ever since this blog became "live" over 6 years ago, even though my posts have been sporadic, I have typically been faithful with writing a birthday tribute to each of my boys. Those are the posts I look forward to the most. Since Quinn's special day falls within two weeks of Christmas, I try to start thinking about what I want to say and what photos I want to include before the new year begins. On Sunday afternoon, the day before his birthday, I was about to sit down and start typing away when Quinn came looking for me. With a panicked look on his face he asked, "Mom, did you hear anything about a crash on Barkley this morning? Jess just texted me and said he heard it was fatal and that a Squalicum student was involved." My heart sank and I had a sinking feeling he was right. I combed our local paper's website and Facebook looking for any information that might be out there but found nothing. He went outside to take down the Christmas lights and an hour later came in and said, "it's true. It was Hannah."
As we learned about the details, it became even more heartbreaking. Hannah, a vivacious, very loved high school senior, was driving down the hill on her way to work, in her beloved 1970's VW bug when her car slid on the icy road, crossed the center line and collided with an oncoming truck. Her vehicle then caught fire and the witnesses were not able to remove her before it was engulfed in flames. The only saving grace was that the authorities confirmed she was unconscious and didn't suffer. The entire school community was devastated and social media was filled with grieving teenagers sharing their heartbreak and absolute adoration of this beautiful young lady. Although I'd never met her or her family, I had heard their names over the years and we had many mutual friends. It was just unfathomable.
Because Trey was leaving early in the morning on Quinn's birthday, we talked about celebrating the night before. After hearing this news, none of us were up for it. I told Trey, "it just doesn't seem fair that we get to plan our child's birthday while Hannah's family is planning a funeral." Even thinking about going back to school the next day, after the two week break, was something no one was looking forward to in the least.
Although I felt for Quinn that his birthday would be subdued by such tragedy, I loved how he was more concerned for his classmates than worried about being overlooked. And I was so grateful to watch our amazing community come together and honor their friend. We had takeout Chinese and a Dairy Queen ice cream cake with Quinn's friends then headed over to the high school for a cross town rival boys' basketball game. Apparently word had spread over Facebook and Twitter that the student body was requesting for all fans to wear purple to the game as it had been Hannah's favorite color. When we walked into the gym it was a packed house and an absolute sea of purple--every single fan from the other high school's student section had obeyed the request. The players had purple bands on their jerseys and each of them wore purple socks. It was chilling. At halftime, the ASB president made a short speech and directed the opponent's students to join ours for a picture. It was amazing to watch these kids who, on any given day, will chant across the gym at each other with such intensity come together and lock arms in a display that announced, "Love wins!"
This may have not been how any of us planned to celebrate Quinn's birthday but in so many ways it was a better celebration because of the outcome.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Maddie Neumann-a fellow classmate and student teacher who is half my age but twice as mature. She is fun, positive, hilarious and just a wonderful human being.
Friday, December 20, 2013
So I just logged on to discover it has been almost two months since I last posted. TWO MONTHS! My lack of communication on here has probably hammered the nail in my blogger coffin and the 2 or 3 followers I did have, are probably long gone. But, if there's anyone still out there, I'm back for a brief update....
A two month hiatus is definitely an indication that my life has been overtaken by not only the demands of full-time teaching and a family but then add to the equation a 30+ page paper justifying my teaching practices replete with video clips and research to prove my worthiness--all due on December 19th at midnight. Oh, and for good measure, let's also throw in major shoulder surgery for my husband, whom I have heavily relied upon to hold down the fort for the last 4 months. Naturally, a blog post of any sort sinks to the bottom of the t-do list.
I honestly can't remember a time in my life where I have had so many balls to juggle. As a senior in college (the first time) I took a 20 credit load my final quarter before graduation, while working 20 hrs. a week. At the time, I thought I would never survive--and I was a mere 22 years old! A couple weeks ago I had one of my many meltdowns on the eve of Trey's impending surgery. While sitting in the driveway, dreading the thought of entering my house and transitioning to my second job, I phoned that friend who just absolutely "gets me." When she answered, I began sobbing before I could utter "hello". Her simple but profound response was exactly what I needed to hear. "It's one thing to pursue your goals and dreams when you're in your 20's and it's only you. It's quite another to reinvent yourself when you have a 21-year marriage to maintain and a 16, 15 and 12-year-old whose well-being you are responsible for, not to mention all the other demands for your time and attention. It is an amazing feat and you need to cut yourself some slack." Just having her verbalize and acknowledge my reality was a huge gift. So why is that so difficult? Why does it take reaching the breaking point before I can nurture myself? It's a question I continue to ask throughout this journey.
Lest you be misled, this season has been filled with many blessings in the midst of the challenges. I have learned to admit I can't do it all and, not only ask for but accept help from others. For the first time in 17 years, I hired a weekly cleaning lady. I never felt like I could justify it before but the boys' cleanliness standards and mine just didn't match. Go figure. I was tired of spending what little time I had with them nagging and using my Sundays trying to stay on top of it all. Some may say I let them off the hook but it's money well spent. I am beyond grateful for the friends and family who have jumped in and lightened my load by giving the boys rides, running errands for me, visiting and taking care of Trey post-surgery, bringing dinner when I've been flying solo with Trey out of town. It has made all the difference.
Right now, I am sitting here enjoying the best gift of the season: a snow day and an early start to the Christmas break. I love the slowdown effect a snowfall has on us all.
When we return to school on January 6th, I will have just 3 weeks until I am an official teacher--and hopefully get some of that life back that has been missing since September 4th. When January 24th arrives, this is what I'll be doing.
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Monday, October 28, 2013
Monday, October 21, 2013
Remember back in the "olden days" when a boy asked a girl to the high school Homecoming dance? If they weren't dating, the young man simply asked the young lady, "would you like to go to Homecoming with me?" The answer was a simple "yes" or "no." End of story. Not today. No one would ever do something so SIMPLE. Everything has to be not only complicated but a competition as well. I personally think it's a response to the Disney movie "Prom" that came out a few years ago. Although it was a well-intentioned script, the many different scenarios that played out within the story lines lent itself to a new fad. Not only does the girl get warned by her girlfriends that she's going to get asked, but then she also expects an original proposal. It's so over the top. But then I'm sure our parents categorized our behavior the same way back in the 80's. All this to say, that my poor little freshman was feeling some of the pressure when all he wanted to do was go to the dance and have fun with a group of friends--and a date.
I came home from work one night and Ian told me he wanted to ask a certain girl to Homecoming but it felt awkward because this certain girl happened to be the younger sister of his older brother's girlfriend. Are you following? I told him he should do it if he wants to and not let that fact deter him. Being that Ian's a simple guy, I thought he would just ask her and be on his merry way. Silly me. He got an idea from an older guy and decided to run with it. This particular creative idea also meant that we had to drive all over town to find a goldfish bowl and a small, plastic fishing rod, He was so cute and excited, and he rarely asks for anything, so I had to indulge him. The next day, with the help of his prospective date's friend, he filled the fish bowl with Goldfish crackers and put it on her desk in her first period class. Alongside the bowl was the fishing pole with a note that said, "Of all the fishes in the deep blue sea, will you go to Homecoming with me?" I have to admit it was pretty darn slick. She loved it. He texted me after class with a simple message, "she said yes."
I made the suggestion that the two couples double date. Bad idea. The older couple would have none of it. Going with Freshmen could potentially damage their social status or so it seemed. The best I could do was insist on a picture of all 4 of them at the girls' house before they went their separate ways.
Thursday, September 26, 2013