Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Conversation: An Exchange

You know what I love most about education?

Conversation.

I love the general exchange of ideas--sometimes with ulterior motives and sometimes just for the sake of discussion.  I think we learn so much from sharing thought processes or ideas about general concepts.

Tonight, as I had dinner with my former cooperating teacher, I remembered why I loved her classroom so much.  She was the type of person who could come up with really abstract ideas or thoughts and follow those concepts through to some seriously cool classroom activities/discussion topics.  She's an artist at heart, so the manifestations of creativity really shouldn't be shocking.

But they blow my mind.  Tonight we discussed the concept of "Into the Woods" and the way fairytales take people to that very place--literal or figurative.  We talked about food in movies and the way food is often portrayed in literature (specifically in reference to the Rossettis and "Goblin Market").

It was a stimulant for my poor, overloaded head.  I've spent too much time recently trying to figure out what grammar lessons I really need to address with my freshmen.  I'd forgotten the hidden jewel that is conversation.  I'd forgotten that the best conversation all year happened during my Genocide Unit.

The students and I were discussing the concept of objectification and I asked, "What does it look like?"  They came up with the general ideas of racism and sexism, but were completely shocked when I wrote "PORNOGRAPHY" on the board.

All of a sudden, twenty teenage boys look at the ground and refused to make eye contact.

It was awkward for all of 5 minutes.  Then we discussed why pornography fell under the idea of objectification.  We talked about letting small things into your head without analyzing them and how sometimes those small things manifest themselves into bigger ideologies.  They got the concept that pornography has the potential to grow into the something that cannot be contained or controlled.  Then, we find ourselves in a mess we never intended to experience.

It led to a brief conversation about the purpose of school, the practice of thinking and the need to become good citizens.  It led to a realization that the things they're doing now, the ideas they are cultivating, really matter.  Those things will affect who they are and who they become.

And all because of a simple conversation.

But I'm not content to stop there.  I want more conversation.  I want them to be willing to discuss concepts, ideas, movies, books, music and politics.  I want them to ask questions, listen to each other, provide feedback and address issues that affect high school or the world.

I want to throw out a topic and know that there's going to be such a whirlwind of involvement that I never get a word in edgewise.

But right now I'm kicking myself for forgetting that conversation is probably the best tool we have at our disposal as educators.  We have an obligation to engage these students in conversation and help them to understand that this type of communication is our best hope for education in America.

At least, I think that would be a good conversation starter.  Feel free to contribute.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The one where I whine and conclude

Warning:  Whining to follow

For the most part, I like being an adult.  I like the sense of independence I get from paying my own bills and coming and going as I please.  I like making my own decisions--even though sometimes I avoid. 

But I really hate that I can no longer pawn decisions off on other people and trust that the right thing will be done.  I hate that things seem so much more ambiguous now than they ever did when I was a kid.  I hate that there is no clear right or wrong when it comes to some decisions...but giving up and opting out aren't always positive alternatives.

I hate it when doing the right thing doesn't feel like the right thing.

I don't like being void a sounding board.  The ones I have currently are just as baffled as I am. 

So until I have a more definitive course of action, I'm throwing myself into school.  I'm thinking about communication.  I thinking about to incorporate realistic forms of communication in my classroom.  I thinking about how to get kids to use the knowledge I've given them from previous units on a project they are doing tomorrow.

But mostly, I'm talking through strategies, problems, words and exercises with them.  And while I'm doing that, I'm hoping that some amount of talking still makes a difference.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Bit of a Confession

So I have to confess something.

I'm a little nervous because I'm not sure how I feel about this myself.

I gave up Facebook.  Turns out, it was a really good choice for me.  It's making some things in my life a little less difficult.  It didn't serve a lot of purpose except to fill hours I really didn't have to devote to the medium.

But yesterday...

Oh, yesterday...

Yesterday, I joined...

Ok...I'm now part of The Twitter.

Yes, I said THE twitter.

Don't judge me.

I joined Twitter because I've heard that "it will change your teaching life."  And I'm ready for my life to be changed.

In anticipation, I took a little survey in the two classes I actually managed to show up for today (I took a half-day at work...still feeling a little sickly).  Survey questions?

1.  If you could change anything (educationally) at this school, what would you change?
2.  If you could change anything in this class, what would you change and why?
3.  If you could change anything about my teaching style, what would you change and why?
4.  If you could change anything about yourself as a student, what would you change and why?

I told the students to seriously consider the questions because I plan to seriously consider their responses.  I got some good ones...but I want to spend some more time with those responses before sharing them just yet (or what I plan to do with them).  I will admit, it's nice to see things with a new set of eyes.

And since that was so helpful, I'm hopeful for the twitter.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Mind Never Stops

Today I'm home sick with a stomach bug my niece was so generous to share with the rest of the family.  I hate staying home from work.  It's not that I don't need the rest every now and again; it's that writing sub plans is often more difficult than hauling myself in and teaching anyway.  My doctor has, more than once, referred to this as control freak behavior.  Yet part of me wonders how she feels to let a really sick patient rest in the hands of another doctor--particularly one she may feel is less capable of handling the situation.

Regardless, while I'm home, my mind is in my classroom.  I've spent some of the morning thinking about how much I hate my English I curriculum and what I can do to make it better.  Currently, I have no answers.  I thought it might be easier to line out some of my thoughts instead.

*  Reteaching:  I have a wide range of English I students this year.  Many of them are new to high school, but their individual educational pasts are as diverse as the colors of the rainbow.  Most of them have one thing in common:  they have missed concepts that are going to pertinent in high school.  So I struggle to figure out what I can reteach, what I should reteach and who will/will not benefit from that time in class.

*  The consideration of reteaching brings up another problem--grammar.  Almost every single kid in my class struggles to avoid writing run-on sentences, fragments, etc.  I do a few lessons to fix these problems, but what I'm doing isn't working and I can't help but think that I'm obviously in the dark when it comes to teaching these concepts.  I need HELP.  Beyond sentence structure, these kids haven't managed things like differentiating there/their/they're or your/you're.  I've reviewed them until I'm blue in the face, but part of me thinks that if these students are unwilling to memorize specific things, no amount of teaching will matter.  Someone, HELP ME.

*  This is one of the first English I classes I've had where students are unwilling to talk about the material.  Cysts on ovaries are apparently fair game for classroom fodder (I quashed it.  Have some faith.), but discussing the role of teachers and students per The Miracle Worker leaves them tongue tied.  I just keep thinking that I can't make literature pertinent if they are unwilling to talk about it.

So there we are.  My recent frustrations in the classroom.  So far, English III is going alright.  I have some things I need to address in English II, but I'm figuring it out.  I'm just trying to figure out ways to expand creation in the classroom.  I seem to rely on paper writing far too often.

How do you get other teachers to join and comment?  I could use some ideas...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lack of Preparation

My college education program taught me what it was to sit in the classroom.  It gave me the opportunity to observe teachers in the classroom setting and even to teach for an entire semester.  But my education program lacked in more than one way.

The one on my mind today?  Dealing with parents.

I don't know how many of you educators have struggled to navigate the murky waters where diplomacy and realism collide, but I do know that it's a struggle that isn't going away.  For the most part, I've been really fortunate.  I've had parents who listen to me and know that I'm concerned for their student/student's grade.  I make every effort to be available to answer questions and help whenever possible.

Unfortunately, that isn't always enough.  I've had my share of "little darlings" who behave one way in front of parents and entirely different inside the classroom.  Then, when the darling gets in trouble for his/her behavior, the parent requests a meeting with the principal and the teacher because "I feel you just don't like my child"  (Yes, this actually happened to me).  I tried to explain that when the student snaps at me and says, "It's your job to answer all my questions," I feel a respect boundary has been crossed.  The parent felt that was up for interpretation.

In addition to behavior problems, I've faced students who simply do not want to do anything.  Normally, I would assign a grade accordingly and feel that was the reward for a job not done.  That, regrettably, doesn't work when the child continues to turn in work he/she did not complete on his/her own.  Even more unfortunate?  When the parent does the child's work for him/her.  Personally, I would think that parents have better things to do with their time than to write papers for a high school English teacher.  And, apparently, I would be wrong. 

Now, I came up with a solution that will likely work in my classroom.  Are the parents happy about it?  Hardly...as evidenced by the calls to my principal all day long.  Am I in the wrong?  I don't think so.  But I am curious to know:  how would you handle a situation when you know (because the student told you) one parent wrote/writes papers for the student?  I'm curious to see your answers.

Done

I've decided that the thirty day blog challenge thing isn't really working for me, so I'm quitting.  I don't blog when Favorite's home, and I have several other school-related things that I want to post on here.  I'm not a fan of posting more than once in a day because I like to give people time to read what I've written and (possibly) respond.

But today will be a two poster.  Just wait for what's coming...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

To Interject

A brief break from the thirty day blog challenge...

Recently, my English III classes have started working on a project I developed for the book The Education of Little Tree.  The project is worth 200 points and, without reading you the actual prompt, is basically five papers on different topics.

The one I've been most impressed with?  The question regarding education.  I asked the students to define education and then explain what did/did not fit into those parameters.  We have had some of the best conversations in class I've ever had with a set of students.  Some of the ones who were most adamant that they were "never gonna use this" declared that there can be purpose in fields of study they never considered worthwhile.

I was just shocked at the responses I got when I demanded that they clarify their thought processes and then put it in writing.  Many of them read what they wrote, erased it and started over.  Even they didn't like the sound of the words.

Similarly, English I has been discussing The Miracle Worker and how Annie's relationship with Helen relates to them in the grand scheme of things.  I asked them, "If you were Annie, do you think you would've given up or stuck it out knowing what Helen is capable of?"  Every single student in class had the same response:  "She has a responsibility to help Helen."

Since I'm a sneaky teacher, the next question I asked was this:  "So as a teacher, is it my job to continue to expect out of you, to push you when you don't want to be pushed and to occasionally give you a swift kick in the rear to get you back on track?"  It was a resounding yes.  Then I said, "If that's the case, why do you get mad when you know I'm doing the job you expect me to do?"

Crickets, people.  Crickets.

But they got it.

And I felt like such a success because of it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dream Big

Goals are a tricky thing to nail down.  Depending on what day you ask me, I may tell you my biggest goal is to weigh what my license says I weigh or even just to stop drinking coffee that day.  Often I have to set small goals (I won't eat the cookie...I won't eat the cookie...I won't eat...the other cookie).  But each day presents its own problems which then requires that I modify my set of goals to meet those challenges.

But overall, there are a few things that continuously come into play.  First of all, I want to be a godly woman.  I really do.  I fall short pretty well every day.  Today I was thinking about what a problem my mouth is and how I'm really going to have to start working on it in order to make this goal a reality.  After that, I guess I'll spend more time on compassion.  This is a gift Big Bro has nailed, and I'm a little bit jealous.  I don't make a good first impression.  People rarely like me when they first meet me, and even fewer people seem willing to listen to my viewpoint when it comes to certain topics.  I thought that would be different as I aged, but the reality may be that I just haven't come far enough in the godly woman thing to be heard.

I want to be a phenomenal teacher--you know, the one that students talk about.  What would I want them to say?  "Mrs. House was tough, but she was awesome.  You couldn't be lazy in her class.  She doesn't let people get away with anything, but she's usually fair."  Why do I want them to say those things?  It's really not for approval.  I don't need the kids to tell me I'm awesome to feel good about my job, but I do want my desires to be obvious.  I want to educate all of them to the best of my ability.  I want them to have as many options as they possibly can.  I want them to realize that not everything can be interesting and exciting, but some things they thought were boring were actually pretty cool.  I want to help them discover, learn, write and read.  I want to make them learn responsibility and earn their grades.  And I don't want to quit changing, learning and adapting to make education what it should be in my classroom.

I want to be mommy.  This is a pretty simple desire, but it's one that's a deep part of me.  Do I realize that this task is going to be frustrating at times?  Hello?!  I'm a teacher.  I deal with teenagers on a regular basis so I'm not unrealistic about the idea of parenthood.  But I can recall something I read in Tuesdays with Morrie.  To paraphrase, Morrie tells Mitch that there's nothing like parenthood.  You don't have to try it, but there's no replacement for the feeling of being a parent.  I want to know how that feels.

Most of all, I want to be the type of person others trust, value and enjoy.  Surely I'll make it there some day?

A Quick Update

Good news:  The painter showed up yesterday.  Our show is back on the road.

Oh, and Rebecca--MIA=missing in action

Have a great day!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Slowly Crumbling Dream

My dream house?

Currently, it's being built right beside my trailer.  It's gorgeous, and it's completely and totally what I wanted out of a house.  I wanted an open floor plan.  Check.  I wanted to decent sized bedroom and a closet that is in my bathroom.  Check.  I wanted a porch that wrapped around the side of my house.  Check.  I wanted cherry cabinets.  Check is coming.  Chris and I wanted something that would grow with us. Check.  And eventually, I want a huge back deck.

Of course, I also wanted my house painted in a timely manner, and that was apparently too much to ask for.

Which must be why my painter has been MIA for the last week.  Yep, you read that right.  He hasn't been there since last Tuesday.

Paint is holding up flooring.

Flooring has to be done before cabinets or trim can be finished.

All of those things have to be done before we can move in.

So you see my predicament.

Feel free to leave thoughts on how to deal with MIA painters.  I've called a hundred times.  I've left messages indicating we need to lay flooring this week.

No, we haven't paid him.  And in truth, he has maybe two days of work left.  Maybe. 

Well, actually, if I were telling the truth, I'd say he should've been out of there two weeks ago.

Yet here we are.

Waiting on my dream house.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

There's Sunshine Ahead

Aaaaannnnd we're back!

Sorry for the brief recess.  I'll remind you that Favorite is off on Friday and Saturday and Thursday was a holiday so I went on a little shopping trip with some of my girls.  That topic to be discussed later.

Number 17 on the Thirty Day Blog Challenge is "What is something you're really looking forward to?"

The answer is simple here:  MOVING!  I cannot wait until we can say good riddance to this trailer once and for all.

Some of you may be wondering, "What's so bad about trailer dwelling, Crystal?  I've lived in a trailer and it was all that awful."

To you, I stick my tongue out in disgust.

Just kidding (a little).  I've mentioned on more than one occasion that our trailer wasn't new when we purchased it and it came with it's own fair share of baggage.  Previously, I told you that the ceiling doesn't leak but the walls do.  The doors don't shut.  And the floor has basically collapsed underneath part of the office due to a leaky pipe that wasn't found for quite some time.

Yet the pièce de résistance is the oven.

I am probably one of the only homeowners who is lucky enough to have the opportunity to turn my oven into a crematorium.

Before you freak out, Barky is still alive.

So is Favorite (for now).

So what did I cremate?

The residential mice.  En masse, it would seem.

Note to you:  Cremating things is a nasty smelling business.

Needless to say, I CANNOT WAIT to move into my new house.  And I am currently refusing to use the oven in the trailer.

So we should pray that my painter shows up again on Monday, because without him, the process is severely delayed.

And he's probably never had to roast a chicken in the microwave.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My MO (That sounds SOOOO cool, no?!)

Number 12:  What do you believe?

Part of me wants to break out in the Nicene Creed (which I know mostly thanks to Third Day), but I'm afraid that wouldn't be nearly as personal.  Truthfully, I do believe in God the Father (Almighty Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth).  I also believe in Christ Jesus.  But that relationship goes so much more deeply than I think I can explain on a blog.

How 'bout an example?

Right.  Examples are always good in times like this.

Things have been difficult for Chris and I in the past six months or so.  Without going into a lot of detail (because my blog is public and there are some things that just shouldn't be put on the WWW), we faced some difficulties that were completely new territory for us.  At some point in time during all the mess, I simply started praying the latter part of Matthew 8:25 ("Lord, save us!  We're going to drown!").  I prayed it over and over again. 

A few months ago, I really felt like God gave me a verse to pull Chris and I through these difficult times.  It did not occur to me until yesterday that His verse was a direct response to my prayer.  See, I was praying that God would keep us from drowning.  His response?  "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you" (Isaiah 43:2).

He has never left me. 

So when I tell you I believe in God and his resurrected son, Jesus Christ, what I mean is that I have a deep and personal testimony to a Savior who didn't leave me to my grief.  He responded directly to my need--literally and figuratively.

I believe Jesus was sent by the Father:  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth"  (John 1:14).  I believe Jesus poured out His life as a sacrifice so that we may live:  "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10b).

Salvation is available to you (Acts 2:21; John 10:9; Luke 18:25-27; Mark 16:16).  And I truly believe you will "Taste and see that the Lord is good" (Psalm 34:8).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The iTunes Shuffle

Warning:  I listen to a variety of things.  I don't listen to everything on my iPod, but I keep a lot of it around "just in case."  You never know when you need a little "Eye of the Tiger" to make it through your day.  But if you never do get to that point, don't judge my musical tastes :)

1.  "Small Enough" by Nichole Nordeman--She is probably my favorite singer/songwriter.  I like her voice because it's simple and she doesn't rely on vocal gymnastics to make a point.  Instead, she spends a lot of time on her lyrics...and they certainly speak to me.

2.  "Me Against the Music"  by Britney Spears--Yeah.  I can't even justify this one.  I'm pretty sure it's on there because I liked the song "Stronger" so I loaded the entire CD.  Blog questions like this are the reason you should delete certain crap from your iPod.

3.  "You Don't Know Me"  by Ray Charles with Diana Krall--Seriously a great duet.  I love Diana's voice.  And this song is obviously suited to both of them.  It doesn't get any better than their soul-filled sounds (not even Michael Buble).

4.  "Change Your Mind"  by Sister Hazel--Is this band touring anymore?  If not, WHY NOT?!  I LOVE them.  I don't like this song nearly as much as "Your Winter," but I love the guitar and the sound of this guy's voice.  And it's relatively mellow music...which is nice.

5.  "Endless Summer Nights"  by Richard Marx--If you didn't know that I love sad, sad 80s singers, you are now learning something new.  I love, LOVE, Richard Marx and I won't apologize for that weird love.  Since one of Sheena's friends is currently touring with Marx, I keep praying I'm going to get to meet him in person...or that he'll sing at Ronnie and Sheena's wedding.  Please, please, please...

6.  "How Deep the Father's Love for Us" by Nichole Nordeman--This song came from the Sing Over Me CD, and I really like it.  It's extremely relaxing music.  I've listened to this song over and over again.  It helps me put things in perspective when I've had "one of those days."

7.  "Because I Told You So" by Jonatha Brooke--I'm a pretty big fan of acoustic guitar music and simple voices.  This girl has all of those loves nailed.  I love the whole CD.

8.  "Super Duper Love" by Joss Stone--Again, I just have a deep love for the sound of her voice.  I will readily admit that this is the song I probably love the most of hers.  I'm not a big fan of everything she's done...but this was nice.  She's got a deep, soulful sound.  I just wish she showed some versatility.

9.  "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" by Alecia Nugent--OK...you know the songs on your iTunes that have a story?  This is one of them.  Kate, Sheena and I had to sing this for a cantata one year, and we insisted that it was one of those songs that needed to DEEP country accent to give it proper justice.  My mom (the choir director) wasn't on board.  So I downloaded this to prove that I was totally right.  And I maintain that the country sound is part of what makes this song work.  And I STILL love singing it with my girls--accents and all.

10.  "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men--Make fun all you want, but Favorite and I do a KILLER impression of this duet.  Seriously.  Grammy material.

Feel free to comment.  I'm afraid these probably aren't even the weirdest offerings on my iTunes, but you go with what the random gives. 

I'm totally serious about meeting Richard Marx, though.

Monday, November 8, 2010

My OCD Tendencies

Number 16 on the thirty day blog challenge asks me to share something I'm OCD about.  I've spent the last 30 minutes trying to figure out how I'm going to narrow this topic into something people will actually read.

I have weird OCD tendencies.  First of all, I'm weird about the desks in my classroom.  They all match--as in, are the same type of desk.  When I realized I would need more desks this school year, I sweetly asked the janitors if they could make that happen...and then I asked if they could match the ones I already had.  I tell my students if they break a desk, I'm going to be pissed because there are no more desks available that match the ones I have.  And I cannot handle the thought of having one rogue desk.  I don't care if you find that weird.

My lesson plan book is set up in a specific way.  I like headers.  I like bullet points.  I'm very OCD about how neat everything is in there...and, until recently, I had a thing with highlighting certain things in specific colors.  I only let go of that one this school year.  Anal?  You bet.

My towels have to be folded correctly.  It's a compulsion.  They have to fit on the ledge.  If you don't fold them right, they lap over the ledge.  DRIVES.  ME.  CRAZY.

Oh, and my closet is arranged in rainbow order.  This will only get more pronounced as I get more closet space.  Deal with it.  I like knowing which red shirts are available on the days I want to wear red.

Everything in my purse has a specific space.  Since you'll never be in my purse, this won't be something you ever understand.  Consider it my OCD secret.

And lastly, I'm extremely OCD about the prompts I provide to my classes.  All of the instructions are lined out as clearly as I can possibly make them.  And it drives me insane when people cannot manage to follow those very clear instructions.

I also have a thing with bed covers, cabinets and routines in the morning.  But there's no need to make you think that I'm an obsessive control freak about EVERYTHING, is there?  ;)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What I Love About Life

Number 30 on the thirty day blog challenge (which I have technically already screwed since I won't blog when Chris is home) is "what do you love about life right now?"  It's a hard question to answer because I'm just in a really good place right now.

I realized last night how much I love small town living and I could talk about that right now.  I love Mom and Pop restaurants that end up having the worlds BEST food.  I could talk about hometown high and how blessed I am to be teaching there (and I graduated from there!).  I could talk about the coworkers who've become such supportive friends that it seems a disservice not to call them family.

I could tell you how much I love my family and how much we laugh.  I could tell you how family dinners are unpredictable because of the combination of people.  I could tell you about feeling at home with those people and knowing that they love me even though they know me.  And I could mention the hilariousness that is my husband...

I could tell you about the house and how close it is to being finished.  I could tell you how excited I am at the prospect of having Christmas there or even purchasing a nice Christmas tree for the first time since we've been married.  I love the paint colors, and I'm pumped about the flooring.

I could talk about any of those things, and it would be an accurate explanation of what I love about life right now.  But I'm going through such a sweet time right now and I wanted to share that instead.

What I love most about life right now is where Jesus has brought me.  While it's never going to be easy, I've begun to rest in the knowledge that I have about Him.  I know that He is good.  I know that He will be true to His nature.  I know what grace feels like and I'm grateful for His offering.

I want to be clear that what I love about life has very little to do with anything I've done or any accomplishment of mine.  It has everything to do with Christ's willingness to meet us where we are.  It has everything to do with His willingness to bind up the broken hearted.  It has an awful lot to do with the fact that the waters I'm walking through aren't going to sweep over me, and that I've been summoned, redeemed and claimed.

Life is far from perfect.  It's a messy conglomeration of broken hearts, relationships, lives, etc.  And while I've had my own fair share of brokenness, the thing I love most about life is the fact that there is a Healer.  He is also provider--Jehovah Jireh.  And He loves me.

Yes, Jesus loves me.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Recent Photo

Tonight, Favorite is home and I don't want to spend a ton of time doing this when I could be hanging out with him.  Also, my thirty day blog challenge may have to exclude weekends because Favorite has Fridays and Saturdays off, and I do so enjoy my time with him.

At any rate, for your viewing pleasure I thought I'd provide another shot from our target hat adventure that I hadn't shared previously.

If that doesn't make your heart happy, I don't know what will.

Enjoy your weekend :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Frankly, I'm Scared of Everything

When I read the topic "Share something you're afraid of," I automatically laughed, because I'm pretty much terrified of everything.  I don't think I've always been fearful so maybe it's a symptom of adulthood?  It's definitely something I've been trying to overcome in the last few years.  But, in the name of being a good sport, what follows are the things I'm afraid of:

1.  The dark.  Seriously.  I realize I'm 30 years old and this is supposed to be something one overcomes at age 10.  I'm 20 years behind and I don't even care.  It's not even the dark that really terrifies me.  It's the possibility that lurks in the dark.  *shiver*

2.  Doing a bad job...at pretty much everything.  I wouldn't call myself a perfectionist, but I certainly like to do things well.  I want to be good at teaching and coaching.  I want to be a great wife and Christian.  Most of the time, I feel like I fall short.  And in falling short, I'm often terrified that affects someone else....which is just another thing to add to the list.  Basically, I'm terrified that I'm not doing it "right"...whatever that may be.

3.  Missed opportunities.  There are things in life I'd like to do.  I'd like to build a house and live in it with my husband.  We're very close to checking that one off the list.  I'd like to go back to school at some point in time--just because I like learning.  Will I get the chance?  I don't know...and it worries me that I will be missing out.  I'd like to be a mom.  Actually, just between us, I want a house full of kids (four or five).  Sometimes I'm scared that isn't in the cards for me.  It scares me to think that people I love may not come to know Jesus in a personal way.  Sometimes I'm just scared that I'm missing out on the bigger picture.

4.  Losing people I love.  I am who I am because of a few people so it stands to reason I am deeply attached to them.  And while I know that we will meet again, living without them is a terrifying thought.

5.  People thinking untrue things about me.  Should it terrify me?  Nope.  But there are precarious situations that get difficult to  navigate when people want to believe things that are less than true.  Is there anything that I can do about it?  Nope.  They'll just have to keeping thinking.

I think I'll let those sum up my fears for now.  There are probably a hundred tiny ones I never mentioned (spiders, anyone?), but these are the biggies.  I'm sure some of you can relate.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shows and/or Concerts

Anytime my students are attending a particularly great concert, they always ask me if I'm going.

Student:  Hey, Mrs. H.  You going to see *insert famous band/singer here*?  I've got tickets...it's going to be awesome!

Me:  Nah.  I don't really like concerts.

Student:  You don't like concerts???  Why not?!  They're awesome!

Me:  Um.  Well, I don't really like people.  And concerts are filled with crowds and there's no space to walk.  It just makes me uncomfortable.

Student:  *Gives me a really strange look*  Um.  Ok.

So it's obvious that my dislike of concerts isn't understood by all audiences.  Unfortunately, it doesn't make the statement any less true.  I don't like crowds, and I hyperventilate if I feel like I can't get out of a crowd of people.  And before you say it, yes, I know there's medication for that.

That said, I have seen some amazing shows on stage that require a mention.

I saw Aida in New York with the original cast and was mesmerized.  It felt like the entire play took a week--and not because I was bored and looking at my watch.  The vocalists were amazing and the props were out of this world.

I had the privilege of seeing Les Miserables and Footloose while I was in New York, too.  They definitely deserve an honorable mention.  So much great singing and dancing.  And you wouldn't believe what they can do right in front of your face--movie special effects need to move over.

Phantom of the Opera requires a mention here, too.  I saw it at the Fox in St. Louis.  That theatre must have been build specifically for shows like Phantom, and the whole experience was wonderful.

My mom and I saw Showboat while I was in college.  It was good, but I think it was better because she was so excited to see it.  Apparently, it was one of her favorites from high school.

Those mentions should be enough to keep you from thinking that I just sit at home in order to avoid all people all the time.  I'm not a complete recluse, and I don't hate all people.  I am, after all, a teacher.  Hm...maybe hallway traffic is the reason I don't want to be crowded?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gone, baby, gone, baby, gone

Some people say that if they could go back to high school they totally would.  I've never understood this mentality because high school was a pretty traumatic time in my life.  But there are definitely things that I miss that are long gone--and not just from high school.

I miss the days of less responsibility.  I can remember thinking that people expected way too much of me in high school and parts of college, but it seems an unfair comparison these days.  Maybe I'm just too busy?  Maybe the expectations are still too high?  But the sense of responsibility is there, and there's no denying that the footloose and fancy free days are long gone.

I miss the "fat" I was in high school.  If I only knew then...

I miss my Grandma and Grandpa Mays.  They were great people, and I often wonder what life would be like if they were still around to discuss circumstances and decisions.  My gramma was really great about listening.  She didn't always offer advice, but you always knew she was paying attention to what you said.

I miss "hanging out" time.  A couple of years ago, I participated in a marriage seminar with the Family Living class at our school.  One of the questions the girls asked me was, "How do you find time away from your spouse for yourself?"  I told them that it seemed like I was searching for time together instead of time apart.  Unfortunately, that doesn't just go for time with my spouse.  It's time with everyone I love.  I remember when it was a regular event to meet up with all my college buddies and sit around and chat.  Maybe there's a reason I was less stressed then?

I miss my naivete.  Am I completely not naive?  Ha.  Hardly.  But there are situations in which I am a little too knowledgable...and I miss the innocence of ignorance.  I can't say I would go back, but if I were still naive, I'm not sure I would choose the circumstances I'm living, either.

I miss my husband.  He didn't leave me, but I hate that he has to go to work about the time I'm getting off.  I miss spending time with him.  We actually enjoy each other's company so we aren't exactly adjusting to this schedule.

I miss Alex.

The list would go on, but it would get mundane after a while.  Thankfully, I don't believe missing things means I can't look forward to what is to come.  I just appreciate what is now past.