Sunday, January 31, 2010

Simplicity

Due to what we are calling inclement weather, Chris didn't have to go to work yesterday. It was actually pretty awesome to have him home--something I'm not used to since his only days off right now are Monday and Tuesday, and I pretty well always have to work on those days.

We didn't do anything interesting. We went out to eat, bought some movies to watch (The Invention of Lying--thought it would be funny; found it insulting) and just spent some time together in general. I forget how funny he is sometimes. Case and point: we passed the people who were protesting the war in Iraq along a street in Carbondale. Chris suggested we stand across the street with a sign that read "We LOVE war...let's invade Canada and take over!" I assured him that there was no need to be incendiary, but he was already in full plan mode by then. He and Ronnie were making plans to take a few other countries by the end of the day.

I guess it doesn't sound exciting at all, but these are the days I love the best. Yes, we do annoy the garbage out of each other after a long period of time, but there's no one in the world who makes me laugh the way he does. I just love the simplicity of us. Reminds me how nice it is to be uncomplicated (not that everything is).

Tomorrow I have a speech meeting about the regional tournament in Harrisburg (boo!) and my mom's birthday (she's 55...and doesn't look it). Just thought I'd mention that so I can say Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you :) Here's to another great year...

Friday, January 29, 2010

I have a finger for NCLB

No Child Left Behind--as though those of us who have made our way into the field of education hope for just that. It's becoming more and more depressing to assess data and learn that fewer and fewer students are meeting what I deem to be unreasonable benchmarks.

I want to be better at my craft--I really do. I don't mind creating new lesson plans or finding ways to incorporate new/different information into my curriculum; however, I do mind when my aptitude as an educator is determined based on my students' test scores--particularly when some of them don't give a flying you-know-what about what they score on that test. Good grief...good students are exhausted toward the end of a day long assault on their intelligence. I'm pretty sure I started guessing after question 60.

I'm so frustrated. Is my job going to be on the line when it comes to whether or not my students meet or exceed expectations? Should I be worried? Maybe. Maybe not. But I am. When you want to do the best job possible and you starting feeling like everything you do sucks, it's difficult not to think that way.

Friday, January 22, 2010

A Little Refreshment

Music is good for the soul. I guess I just didn't realize I would have the privilege to sing with two of the most talented people who have ever picked up a microphone (seriously, move over Carrie Underwood). Enjoy some footage of us playing around with a few of our favorite songs: "It Is Well With My Soul" and "How Great Is Our God"

It's not hard to find blessing when I've got this to look forward to on Sundays :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Something New...but not Borrowed

I'm 20 days into an exercising program, and I'm actually starting to feel some results. I can't say I'm really seeing any yet, but my body is starting to feel differently, and I think that's the point. Thanks to my friend, Morgan, I'm also the proud owner of a great pink crown! It's always nice to have friends who encourage your progress :)

To date, I've been doing squats (sets of 10), lunges (sets of 5...tried to do larger sets and realized my fat butt was wayyy too out of shape for that mess), curls (sets of 20) and tricep presses (sets of 10-15). On top of that, my bender ball came in and I've been doing 150 crunches every night (sets of 15) and working with my resistance band to make that fat on the sides of my hips go elsewhere.

Today, to add to what I've started doing, I joined a gym. Truthfully, I did it because Shawnee College offered teachers a membership to their new, nice (NICE NICE NICE!) gym for just $25. I couldn't pass it up. I'm sure this recent addition will mean some pretty entertaining stories about falling on the treadmill and being thrown into an all glass wall. We all know how graceful I am.

It's a year of changes, and I'm ready to see some of those changes happen. I'm making a committment to a physical change, but I think it's because my heart is different. I'm so grateful God doesn't give up when we do. It's not that there aren't bad days...it just seems like the bad days don't last quite as long anymore. Maybe it's where I'm looking now?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

His Work--Not Mine

This morning, Alan Milligan told a group at sponsor's hour to be wary of our expectations as this group of kids goes through flight #22 of Chrysalis. It was a reminder that this weekend is, in fact, God's work. It reminded me that He who begins a good work will continue it until the day of completion, but that good work doesn't necessarily fall into our own timelines.

It's been 10 years since my Chrysalis flight--almost 20 flights ago. Alan's thoughts put that experience into perspective, because, ten years later, there is still a lot of heavy construction taking place in my life. I'm sure there are others who feel the exact same way. But that Chrysalis experience certainly impressed a number of things into my heart. Sometimes I just marvel that it would take this long for some of those moulds to set...maybe some of them still aren't.

I guess the point remains: His work--in spite of our expectations.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My So-Far Solution

This year, I have committed myself to regular exercise. Along with that exercise, I am really trying to eat in a way that is beneficial to my body. I have been a lifelong dieter, but I've never really learned how to balance meals and snacks. I only ate when I was hungry, but I wasn't eating food that lasted long so I was hungry all the time. I know this probably sounds like common sense to anyone else, but I just didn't "get it." I figured that I could eat next to nothing and then chow down on whatever I wanted that evening. Turns out, it doesn't work that way.

I'm becoming extremely conscious about how I eat, what I eat and when I eat. I've been running a few experiments regarding meals this week, and I've figured a few things that work for me.

1. I'm not super-hungry in the morning, but I try to eat fiber, protein and include a cup of milk. I've found that if I eat two pieces of cinnamon bread (3 WW pts) and cook the individual cups of egg beaters, I can stay fairly satisfied until lunch.

2. I do get a little hungry during 4th hr (right before lunch). To hold myself over, I bought 100 calorie packs of almonds (dry roasted) to keep in my desk drawer (2 WW pts). There isn't much in the packet, but it's enough to keep me from feeling starving before I head in to lunch. I realize that I could put my own 100 calorie packs together, but I'm afraid I would randomly munch while I was putting those packs together. So, for now, this is easier.

3. For lunch, I bought several cans of light soup (about 2-3 pts per can) to eat before my lunch. Then, I bought these Hormel Compleats meals (roast beef and mashed potatoes--4 pts). I've found that if I eat the soup and then the other meal, I stay full until around 4 or 5 pm. I know it sounds like a lot of food, and I can't always finish it at lunch, but my main concern is keeping myself full so that I don't munch on things that would wreck my progress.

I haven't figured dinner out yet. At my mom's yesterday, I ate soup that was worth next to nothing in WW points and tonight I had a Subway sandwich. I'm still working toward a solution on that front, but I've done really well for the last couple of days.

I've also stuck to the workout routine. My legs are starting to feel "tight" with all of the squats and lunges, but I'm hoping for results soon. I don't want to buy any new clothes until I can at least get into all of my old ones. Crazy how quickly things get out of control, isn't it?

Oh...and I've been drinking A TON of water. I have to pee all the time. Seriously. All. The. Time. My bladder must be in peak form right now.

I've decided, on my 30th birthday, I want to wear a swimming suit and not be ashamed of how I look in it. I've got a long way to go, and I'm not expecting a miracle, but if I stay as focused as I am now, I shouldn't have any problems. If you want to help, pray for my dedication and don't offer me ice cream :)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Do YOUR job. I'll do mine.

Facilitate:
1. To make easier or less difficult; help forward (an action, process, etc.)
2. To assist the progress (of a person)

Synonyms: expedite, simplify, further, aid, ease, promote, etc.

I'm providing this definition just for a bit of background, and I feel that words like "to make easier" or "help forward" require a bit of supposition on our part. They are vague terms, and any time vague is an issue, interpretation comes into play.

For the past few years, I have been facilitating Women's Bible Study at church. I'm probably not the best candidate for the job, but I am the most willing candidate...so here we are. As a facilitator, I've had a variety of responsibilities. Those responsibilities include (but are not limited to) creating a timeline for the study, creating mailers and informational handouts for the participants, choosing a study, looking over that study in the name of preparedness, encouraging participants, organizing prayer information for participants, contacting participants, organizing contact information for all involved, procuring and setting up a room for Bible study, buying and organizing snacks for Bible study, preparing the projector for study, praying for the participants, leading discussion each week and encouraging others to talk or have a say in the study.

I'm not looking for a pat on the back, because I love my women and I love study. My point is that facilitation is an in-depth business. You don't dole out tasks and sit back and watch it all come together. I'm not saying that facilitation requires you to micromanage (I don't, after all, tell each woman what they need to get out of the study), but it does require a certain amount of organization and dedication to the event.

Fortunately, I am also a facilitator of learning: or what most people call a teacher. As a public school teacher, I would say that it is not my job to teach every single kid who walks through my classroom door. It IS my job, however, to facilitate a learning environment that allows all students to receive an education (provided they choose to receive). How do I facilitate that learning environment? I prepare a lesson that has clear directives and expectations. I provide the information in a clear and concise manner and I open the floor to discussion from other students so we can get different perspectives.

I would say that there are some students who get more out of the lesson that others. It's true what they say: You get out of the lesson what you put into the lesson; HOWEVER, I would also say that it's still the responsibility of the teacher to put time and effort into lesson planning and presentation. Without that effort, it won't matter how much the students put into the lesson. It will be a haphazardly delivered mess that may not be clear in information at all.

With all this in mind, it's understandable that I would be a little put out to hear someone simply state that you get out of things what you put into them and some jobs are just for facilitation without recognizing everything else those two things require. Just because people get out of a situation what they put into it doesn't mean that we are free to become laxidasical about preparation. And, by the way, a job that is meant to facilitate is probably one of the rougher jobs one could under take. Put it this way: if an administrator came to me and asked me to facilitate discussion about a particular issue with the faculty, I would have to think long and hard before accepting. Positions like that are time consuming and rigorous--at best.

Maybe the reason the "facilitate" definition is so vague is because each situation is going to be different. What you have to do to help one thing forward might require weeks and weeks of work while helping another thing forward may only require an hour or two every other week. The point is it still requires work.

When did effort and preparation go to the wayside? Maybe that's something that needs to be considered before you look down your nose at people who aren't doing what you want them to do when you want them to do it.

In short: do your job to the best of your ability. I'm certainly doing mine.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Someone give me a crown!

One full week, and I've managed to exercise every day that I committed to do so. Someone should give me a crown.

Who knew I could actually keep it up for 6 full days? Doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment, but, for me, it actually is--especially considering how much my legs hurt those first few days. Now I'm prepared to see results...something Chris said I probably won't start recognizing for the first two months or so.

Two months?! All that effort and it's gonna take two months to see something? Well, I guess that's better than never seeing results?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Tick-Tock

Transcendentalism is not a theory to which I subscribe, but I love teaching the concept. The transcendentalists are the original rebels to traditional thought, and while I'm not necessarly an advocate of bucking the system, I think there are times when it's necessary.

After reading excerpts of "Self-Reliance" with English III, we got into a discuss about what is expected of the students after high school. Almost all of them had the same answer: go to college, graduate, get married, have kids, etc. I asked them if there was a specific timeline for these activities. They all indicated that there was absolutely a timeline--in fact, they were expected to have most of their decisions made by the time they graduate. It is, after all, difficult to choose a major if one hasn't made a decision.

I hated hearing it, but I haven't felt much different. I was the girl who graduated from college, got married, got a job and then realized that I was in the wrong, wrong, wrong place. All of a sudden, my timeline was shot all to hell and I had reconfigure some of my ideas.

I did reconfigure, but that doesn't mean that everything fell magically into place or that I don't still hear that clock ticking in the background. I guess, to some extent, it's impossible to ignore the clock entirely...or maybe there is just a fear that I will not get the opportunity to do some things because of time.

Now, I realize that two of the people I have the upmost respect for (my brothers) haven't functioned according to typical timelines and they seem perfectly happy where they are. How is that possible? I think the honest answer is this: it's more about enjoying the ride than constantly assessing where you are "supposed" to be. Maybe that's where I've missed the boat. Here I am looking at the ship that's left and never appreciating the beautiful beach I'm standing on.

Maybe it's time to build a sand castle?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Current List

It's my goal to try and keep up with the things I read this year. I thought I'd give a run down of what I'm currently reading and the things that are next on the list.

Currently, I'm reading Teacher Man by Frank McCourt. I read the other two memoirs and am really enjoying this one. I can totally relate to a lot of the stuff he says--like constantly thinking like a teenager. I guess it comes with the territory.

Next up is Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. This is the same woman who wrote The Time Traveler's Wife. Ronnie isn't real optimistic about her sophomore book, but I'm willing to give it a chance. If it's half as good as her first literary accomplishment, she's got a hit on her hands.

After that, I have a book called Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality by Anthony DeMello. This was one of a few books suggested by a good friend of mine (Alvin) who thus far has had pretty decent taste in literature. Nonfiction can get tedious if it's not well written, but I have faith in this book (and Alvin's suggestion) so I guess we'll see.

The great thing about snow days is that they afford me lots of opportunities to read--which I love. Although, I have to be careful because sometimes I get a little too involved in a book and forget that I have a real life with real people who expect me to do real things. It's a personal fault, I suppose. I've really started spending a lot of time by myself, and I appreciate reading about the situations of others without ever having to experience some of the garbage they experience :) Vicarious living can be fulfilling. But I guess, in the end, reading is not real living and I occasionally have to put down my book in the name of washing dishes, doing laundry or going to work...the latter being of the upmost importance.

Feel free to leave book suggestions. I'll add it to my list if it sounds interesting.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Oh Stairs. You are my enemy.

I now remember why starting a new workout routine sucks. My rear end and my legs have been so sore today, but I don't really want to show it--mostly because you can't show weakness around teenagers. They smell and manipulate absolutely anything they can. I did realize that I might have done a decent job on the workout from today when I had to walk up and down the stairs to go to a computer lab with my freshmen.

Note to you: The banister is my friend--capital "F." I LOVE LOVE LOVE that stairs have banisters. Takes the heat from my legs. And my butt. And makes me look like I'm less in pain when going down the stairs.

Tonight, I was going to skip my arm workout due to being tired, but my loving and lovely husband reminded me that in order to get goals I needed to stick to mine (yes, I will be smothering him in his sleep later. Thank you.). So, tonight I worked out arms. With any luck, not only will I not be able to walk tomorrow, I also won't be able to write on my SmartBoard. Being out of shape is grand, no?

I'm thankful though--thankful that my muscles have not been given over to a reprobate mind (haha) and are actually responding to my measley routine. I'm thankful that I have the mind to make this happen, and I'm especially thankful that I have people to encourage me along the way. I'm expecting to start seeing some results soon.

Oh, and pray for snow.

Lots and lots of snow.

And a snow day.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Who is that? Wait?! What do you mean it's me?

I love Christmas. I don't love it because of some childhood memory; athough I do think times at Grandma's significantly contribute to my love for the season. As an adult, I developed a love for the holidays because it was the time of year when everyone was together. When Tim was in the military, he couldn't always come home at other times, but he always managed to make it home for Christmas. So it meant a lot to me to have my entire family together at this time of year.


What I hate about Christmas are the pictures. Don't get me wrong. I love cheesin' it up with friends provided you get things from the neck up. Anything beyond that, and I'm not just overly thrilled. I guess it's because I had no idea how much weight I had gained. I have difficulty keeping my weight under control with the insulin resistance and all, but I have no excuse to have reached the point I am at now. I guess I have fancied myself a certain size and have never changed my mindset. It's time to get things under control.


That said, I'm really trying to become conscious about exercising every single night--and not just cardio. I want to focus on specific muscle groups so I can start seeing some tone instead of just focusing on burning calories. Maybe some of that jiggle will get a little tighter so I no longer look like this:


I don't necessarily want to be a certain size, I guess I just don't want to be this size. And, seriously, I'd like my belly to not stick out as far as my boobs do. Oh, and I'd like to not have that cushy stuff on the sides of my hips. How do you even get that?!
So here we are 2010. Today I did a leg workout and I'm not sure I'm going to be able to walk tomorrow, and I didn't even do that much. Worth it. Totally worth it (at least, I'm trying to stick with the positive).

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Seriously?!

I love it when you make up your mind that things are going to be different just to be repeatedly thrown in the middle of rush hour traffic. No, this doesn't warrent commentary; I just felt the need to vent for a minute.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Let's Live It Up

I've realized that there are a great number of people who aren't sad to see 2009 come to an end. I'm a party to this particular feeling. This year has (seemingly) brought nothing but bad announcements, rough relationships, horrible emotions, medical hardships, delayed excitements and miles and miles of tediousness. Good riddance!

Hello 2010, and a hearty welcome to the things that I'd like to see happen this year:

1. I'd like to meet my house in real life instead of on a piece of paper. Everyone keeps telling me that it's gonna happen, and apparently signing loan documents makes it a little more official. I just can't tell you how excited I'll be to burn the ever loving garbage out of this trailer.

2. I'd like to establish some sort of regular exercise routine. I told Chris that I realized this year I was setting really unrealistic weight loss goals for myself. Seriously--when am I ever going to weigh 115 lbs again? I have to face the fact that if my chest weighs 50 lbs alone, I wasn't leaving much room for things like, well, arms and legs (And think about hair weight...Curly hair takes a lot of product. You know what I'm talking about). That said, I am no longer interested in being a certain size--to a degree. I want clothes to look a certain way, and I want my body to function at its best. Weight loss would probably help those things; however, regular exercise has more proven benefits so that's what I'm going to work on.

3. I want to up the reading ante. I don't know how many books I read last year, but I'd like to keep better track of the ones I do read. Maybe I can post reviews of what I've read for the benefit of my three blog readers (cause it's not like I'm going to regularly recommend those things in person, right?!). Speaking of: The Nanny Returns and Pretty in Plaid--Totally worth the purchase, and well worth reading. And yes, I have already read two books. Books are nicer than people :)

4. I want to spend more time writing. I miss it. In 2009, I actually stopped writing my thoughts because I eventually lost the capability to work through those thoughts. It wasn't a good place. It was actually a pretty scary place, and while I don't believe I'll be able to write everything and work through everything, anything is a start.

5. I want to try new things. I'm not brave in the least, but I want to be. 2009 did nothing but heighten my fear of just about everything, and I don't want those things to hold me back. It's time to move on. So new restaurants? I'm there. Getting out of the house to hike where mountain lions were recently spotted? Um...I'll get back to you. Shopping in St. Louis? Count me in! With this lack of fear is coming a new found confidence, though. That, unfortunately, means that I am less likely to gloss over things that need to be brought to the forefront. So, your question about why I seem to be avoiding you? Yeah--you might want to avoid that line of questioning.

6. I'd like to spend less time thinking about the effort relationships require and more time enjoying those relationships. Turns out constant analysis can make anything suck--from cheesecake to Jesus.


So there we go...the start of my high hopes for 2010. It's already had a great beginning with a fantastic round of karaoke, a reconnection with an old friend and the most beautiful pair of boots on sale (Shut up. I can have as many pairs as I want).

Now I just have to wait for my Bender ball...