Saturday, March 31, 2012

Learning Trayvon Martin

Extra credit is a rarity in my classroom.  In general, I offer it when I need class supplies (tissues, posterboard, etc.) and I will occasionally reward those who make an effort to support the local blood drive.  But those things?  Happen maybe once a year, and the supplies bonus generally happens once every other year (or even every three years).

This year, however, there have been some interesting learning experiences that I thought made great extra credit projects.  First, I allowed students to comment on Siobhan Curious' question about plagiarism.  While many of their answers were simplistic, I think I learned that plagiarism really isn't a big deal to them.  It's a matter of expediting a fairly time consuming process.  (I plan to address that issue in my classroom in detail next year.)

The second extra credit activity was born out of a conversation with Favorite.

For the most part, high school students are fairly insular.  They think about themselves and, in general, have difficulty determining how things apply to the world at large.  (This isn't always the case; it's a generalization).  That said, any time I can get them to watch the news or determine how something in the news applies to a piece of literature in the classroom, I jump on it.

Enter Trayvon Martin.

I have a lot of questions about the Trayvon Martin case.  Favorite and I have watched the case unfold with interest.  After all, there are many factors that just aren't clear at this point in time.  For example, is this a racially motivated case?  Was the self-appointed neighborhood watchman (George Zimmerman) right to be suspicious of the kid walking through a gated community?  If the 911 operator told Zimmerman to leave Martin alone, why was he not arrested when he pursued and shot Martin?

There are several other questions without definite answers at this stage in the game.  But I wondered if the case bore any resemblance to the Emmett Till case in the 1950s--a case my students have just discovered through classroom activities over To Kill a Mockingbird.

I refused to give my students any personal opinions about the case.  (Oddly enough, most of the parents who came to parent/teacher conferences made some snap judgments regarding what I thought without even asking...)  I told them I'd like them to research the case, and write a paper that compares it to the Emmett Till situation and the Tom Robinson case from TKAMB.

Their conclusions?  I have no idea yet.  But I'm really interested to see if they find more similarities or differences between these situations.  Given the public outcry with Till and Martin, I'd say I'm likely to hear about some similarities; however, there are likely just as many differences available for consideration.

But the real point?  To move kids to analyze, compare, contrast and develop an understanding of the world around them.

I'd say that's gonna be a success.

(Any extra credit projects you've offered that have pushed students beyond the "normal" boundaries of the classroom?  Tell me about them!)

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Letter Series: Dear Spring Break

Hello Spring Break, my long-awaited friend.  Lovely to see you.

Your presence makes me feel better that not one person participated in the meme linky I posted on my blog yesterday (#humblingexperiences).  I am also thankful to have the opportunity to actually fold the laundry that's been laying on my couch for the last week.  So, yeah.  Thanks.

I keep trying to imagine how my time with you will be best spent.  Most people would probably run to Florida at the first opportunity.  But something in me says I should use you to look around the dustier areas of my life, and appreciate the fact that I have time to reevaluate some of the habits I've thrown on a shelf for the last few weeks.  Like prayer.  Like Bible study.  Like personal journaling.

But I fully intend to enjoy our weekend trip toward the end of my time with you.  Spring break isn't spring break without at least a tiny bit of time out of town.  Favorite is really looking forward to that time, so thanks for not disappointing him.

I probably won't think much about work while we hang, Spring Break.  I'll revisit those things right before I know you're leaving, but I think we all need some time to relax and appreciate everything around us.  Of course, I'll have that opportunity just a few weeks after you leave, because Summer Break plans to visit mid-May.  But that doesn't mean I shouldn't appreciate you while you're here.

So that's what I'm going to do--appreciate.  I just thought I'd let you know where I stood.

Thanks for the visit.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

For Your Viewing Pleasure

This is a "just for fun" since today is going to be a l-o-n-g day for me (Parent/teacher conferences followed by Freshman Orientation).  I'll add a linky at the bottom in case you want to participate, and I highly encourage you to visit Andrea's blog, since she started this particular meme.  (She didn't offer a linky.)

I give you money and send you into the grocery store to pick up 5 items. You can only pick one thing from the following departments. What do you pick?

Produce: Bell peppers (orange/yellow/red)
Bakery: Crusty French bread
Meat: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Frozen Foods: mixed veggies
Dairy: Half & Half
Let's say we're heading out for a weekend getaway. You're only allowed to bring 3 articles of clothing with you. So, what's in your bag?

Who can survive on three articles of clothing?  Currently, I'm wearing six (not including socks)!  *sigh*  I guess two pairs of underwear and a dress.  I can refashion the things I was already wearing.

If I was to listen in on your conversations throughout the day, what 5 phrases or words would I be most likely to hear?
  • "Garbage!"
  • "Butts in chairs!"
  • "Barky, outside?"
  • "What are your questions?"
  • "I'm starving."
What three things do you find yourself doing every single day? What things would put you in a bad mood if you didn’t get to do them?

Every day I hit the snooze button.  (I would be pretty grouchy if I didn't get to hit it at least twice!) I also eat my breakfast at my desk (fridge oatmeal), and drink tea with half & half every.single.morning.  It gets me ready for the day.

At the end of the day, I wash my face, and read before I go to sleep.  I get pretty grouchy if I can't read before bed.

If you had a three hour block where no one was around, what 5 things might we find you doing?
  1. Grading (it never seems to end)
  2. Browsing Pinterest (it's become an obsession)
  3. Reading
  4. Watching DVRed episodes of Suburgatory, GCB or Once Upon a Time
  5. Reading
You are headed to the zoo, but it looks like it might start raining. What three exhibits do you rush to see first?

My favorite part of the zoo is wandering around outside.  I don't like to look at anything in particular.  I just like meandering and seeing different things.  (Favorite and I visit the zoo every time we're in a certain city.  We love to walk around and be together.)

What four (live) television shows do you wish would gift you free tickets?
  1. Live! with Kelly (though I would miss Regis)
  2. The Voice
  3. I don't watch enough television...
  4. to be able to fill these last slots.  (And I'm not a fan of reality TV.)
If someone offered to buy you a triple dipper ice cream cone, what three flavors would you choose?

I’d pick rocky road, chocolate and pralines & cream.

Imagine you lost your purse at a retail store. When you go to pick it up, the cashier asks you to name five things that are inside it to prove it is yours. What do you say?
  1. Stretchy key ring with one key on it.
  2. Orange zipper pouch with tons of medicine inside.
  3. Nook (with a zigzag pattern in various blues)
  4. Vera Bradley bag with various odds and ends.
  5. Red notebook with a pencil.
Imagine you are at a job fair. You’re asked what careers you would like to pursue. Assuming you had the talents for said careers, how would you respond? (List four.)
  1. Teacher (which is what I do now)
  2. Book Editor (I'd probably need several more grammar classes)
  3. Cool Hunter
  4. Stay At Home Mom (only because I can't think of anything else...)

If you could speak with your 16 year old self, what four things would you say?

1.  Running is awesome.  Learn to love it, because it will ward off several problems in the future.
2.  Fresh food is so much better for you.  Quit eating McDonald's.
3.  You're in for a future full of waiting.  Quit believing that means that nothing is happening in your life and learn to enjoy the moment.
4.  People will come and people will go, but your family will always be your family.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Playing the Bench

You know, despite the fact that never seem to be at a loss for words, I'm having difficulty articulating my current position.

God is clearly moving in my life.  Conviction and grace have been heaped on my head.  I am learning to live like the free person I was intended to be (Gal. 5:1), and I'm certainly learning to bury my Judgey McJudgerson attitude (most days).

It's a good place. 

And while I'm experiencing abundance in a way I had forgotten was possible, I am also waiting.  I feel idle, and I'm anxious to find my niche in ministry again.  There is an inexplicable draw to pour out what God has heaped on me.

During our joint service with Hopewell, PastorJosh reminded us that miracles and power followed the early church because of their intent passion and belief in Jesus Christ. 

It resonated with me.  I want to sustain that kind of passion.  I want to be on that kind of team.  And I don't need to be the superstar either.  I'd be content to wear the jersey and work behind-the-scenes if that's what was asked of me.  I really just want to be a player in the game.

Christ didn't leave me suffocating in my hopelessness.  Minute by minute, His sustaining hand has been constant--usually only visible in hindsight.

When I look back at the things we've survived, almost every scripture God has used to sustain us has used the analogy of water. 

There was our wedding ("Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away" Song of Songs 8:7).
Then, our loss (“Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” Matt. 8:25)
And finally, the promise that He would remain faithful ("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)

And now?  I just want Him to allow me the experience of a new, gushing spring, and appreciate the water in the desert (Isaiah 43:18-20).

I'll gladly sit on the sidelines and praise Him openly for His provision.

Or, You can put me in, Coach.  I'm ready to play.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

DutchBlitz and the Mania of Competition

LilBro and NutMeg introduced us to the game of DutchBlitz--a game that would make the most holy of people lose their religion and opt for words that may incite the masses (mostly to maniacal giggling over a personal victory).  The competition is fierce, and there's nothing like hearing someone scream "BLITZ!" (or Yahtzee for people like Blake who never can seem to remember what you're supposed to yell) when you know you've only played one card out of your stack of ten.

Our game has gained quite a cult following, and that following has opinions regarding some of the rules of the game.  "Double-fisting it" is not allowed.  (That rule requires any number of threats to insure compliance.  Recently, "I will cut you" made it's way into the conversation at the table after a particularly blatant incident of "double-fisting."  That could be my fault--the phrase, not the cheating...the very blatant cheating)  Playing any of your three is also not allowed--it's a top-card-only game.  (Though JaketheSnake insists that he should be allowed to play any of the three cards on the table given that they are, in fact, his cards.)  And if the rules are broken, you are irrevocably branded a Dirty Cheater.  (And that phrase will be uttered with as much malice as one can muster.)

For us, the game never really ends.  We play until our legs go numb or someone insists we quit for unimportant things like dinner or small group.  And even then, the competition will imbue every conversation--from dinner (Enjoying that chili dog?  Bet it would taste better if you would've blitzed.) to helpfulness (I'd like to help you carry all that stuff, but since you're so good at two-fisting it during the game, I figured you had it covered.).

There's nothing wrong with a little competition.  After all, it's just a game.

Until it's not.  And I fear, in a lot of ways, I continue to compare scores when there is no game.

The comparisons are silent now.  But when they happen, there is a wordless pressure to "guard" my heart (Prov. 4:23).  I think God keeps impressing that scripture on me, because there is a much bigger risk of hopelessness now than there used to be.  (Odd how that happens when God's hand has clearly moved in life, eh?)  Before, I could play the comparison game and lose several times over; however, there were some tiny wins I found pretty comforting.  I was never the best Bible study facilitator, but I found an ability in myself in those chairs with those women.  I'm no American Idol (nor am I The Voice), but something about my harmonies clicked with the girls at the other microphones.  So when something reminded me of all of the voids, there were a few positives to balance the scale.

But now, there are no comparisons, because I have nothing to compare.  All of the things that balanced the scale for me are in the past, and while I'm in a much better place than I've been in a long time, I still find myself reaching for a few of those cards to lay on the table.

Maybe that's the point.

The more sermons I hear about service to others, the more I see it lived in the lives of people who have openly accepted Favorite and I, the more I understand that God is drawing my heart--mostly to pour myself into the lives of other people.  (Wouldn't you know that God would draw my heart to the thing I dread the most in life.)  And one can't pour into the lives of others if she is constantly waving the flag of comparison.  There can't be competition in sacrifice, because there's no win.  There is (hear my Yoda) do or do not.

While I marinate on that ever-deepening demand, I may need a few more games of DutchBlitz to stave off my competitive nature.

Otherwise, I'll be a score-tallying fool.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Gurgling--In my Stomach; In my Head

I've had a heart to heart with my stomach today.  It needed a brief reminder that my mouth is entrance only.  When God created us, He made clear entrances and clear exits, and my teeth do not inhabit my exit.  Thankyouverymuch.

The rest of my day revolved around chicken boullion (should I or shouldn't I?) and why I should probably write every blog post like I'm writing to my brother.  The first because you need to ease into things like running or reconditioning your intestines.  The second because we should all be writing to a specific audience, and Ronnie laughs at all my jokes.  (Or usually gets when I'm trying to make a joke.  Bless him.)

Currently, my stomach is doing a bit of back-talking so I'm going to lay in bed and compose a stupendous blog post in my head (that will most likely not make it to fruition, because anything that sounds great in my head flies the coop by the time I can put fingers to keyboard).  Before I go, here are the books I'm currently reading (besides the Dark Tower series):

This book has helped me to determine something every girl will eventually come to terms with:  my mother must have been French.  But the comparisons are interesting.  I'm most fascinated by the necessity of "bonjour" in French culture, and really wish it was something we valued in America. 

This selection is the one my book club (I'm in a book club!  YEEEE!) is addressing at the next meeting.  I'll probably start it tonight.

Thoughts on these books?  Weigh in.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Face the Right Direction

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will be behind you."  --Unknown

I'm working on ack-sen-choo-ate-ing the positive (just for you Sheena!).

Hopefully I'll have more to say tomorrow.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sans Meaningful Answers

This is where any other writer would put their perfectly formed opening sentence that would lead into a very impressive set of thoughts designed to make you laugh, cry and think all at the same time.  Unfortunately for you, this is my blog, and I'm probably not going to tell you anything more impressive than the fact that I'm considering shaving my legs, because that's basically all I ever do when it comes to shaving.

More than you needed to know, but God's honest truth.

I keep trying to write all of the half-formed thoughts in my mind:
  • How our relationship is different because we've been together ten years without children.
  • What it means for us to live a life that focuses on love (that covers a multitude of sins).
  • My new approach to To Kill a Mockingbird and how much I'm loving it (and the fact that I need to limit myself to so many papers a semester with certain classes).

Or even address questions I can't answer:
  • Why am I reading a book that compares French parenting to American parenting when I'm not a parent?  (Though, it is a truly fascinating read:  Bringing Up Bebe.)
  • Why do I continue to make myself available in situations that make me feel left out?
  • What is it about human nature that develops this sense of "in" or "out" that creates the entire concept of the "other"?
  • Why in the world don't educators work as a team since we're all striving toward the same goal?  Isn't there a sense of unity in an "I support your classroom policies" mentality?
Since I really can't address any of these issues with any sort of intelligence, I'm going to take a bath, enjoy a glass of red wine and relax (sans grading--and I'm not going to beat myself up over it, either).  But feel free to address the things above--particularly if you have meaningful answers to those questions.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Paving Stone Sidewalk

Favorite and I are starting to turn our attention to the outside of our home.  We've lived here a year now, but we haven't spent much time on the outside appearnace of our house, because last year we had a few inside projects that really needed some love.

One of the first things we are going to tackle is a sidewalk.  I really want guests to use our front door, but it's silly to require them to walk through a soupy, muddy front yard to do so.  We also need to build up the dirt to our first step so people can reasonably climb the stairs.  (And it goes without mentioning that I am going to have to kill the spiders who are hanging out around my front door and clean the webs off, etc.)

So what do I want for a sidewalk?  Pavers.  I really like the idea of pavers, and I love how we-did-this-on-our-own they look.  See for yourself:
Source (This one is my favorite so far--
minus the different colors of pavers. 
We want all gray since our house is gray.)

Eventually, I'd like a paving stone patio in the area between our wing walls...but all of that will depend on how easy it is to do this job.  The second picture shows the curve our sidewalk will likely have, and it looks like it is on a hill--very similar to our walkway.

But cross your fingers for us.  And if you've done this and have advice, feel free to weigh in :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What Writing Brings to the Table (With a Side of Hope)

Last night, I stared at the screen for six hundred years before I finally felt like I sorta-kinda managed to type anything resembling what's in my head.  Today, during a hundred conversations, I found myself quietly avoiding any topic I would attack with reckless abandon here.

What is it about writing?

There's this *ooh, shiny* allure to the perfect analogy or the perfect turn of phrase to capture the inconceivable.  But I think the best thing about writing is the lack of expectation.

My entries aren't graded.  They may be judged, but the population who judges keeps those thoughts silent (or confined to their cliques).  The best part of no expectations is the fact that I'm free to explore the things in my head without the committment face to face conversation requires.

In face to face conversation, I will avoid serious topics--especially if they center around my personal problems.  I don't like the awkward feeling of navigating a room of eyes.  Generally, if things get too serious or a little personal, I deflect with a joke.  It's the easiest way to change the topic without uncomfortable aftershocks that ultimately affect relationships (often detrimentally).

But writing, while it may draw eyes, doesn't require me to stand, figuratively naked, in front of a group of strangers while I navigate the biggest pothole in the road.  In fact, it has been a sweet blessing in my life--I have the opportunity to stand behind a curtain and do something something I love without the awkward stares or unintentional rejection that often comes when someone doesn't quite follow my line of thought.

In my small group tonight, we discussed destiny.  One question was something like "Have you ever felt like a door was closed on a particular destiny in your life?"  I looked at the carpet and shuffled thoughts in my head like a deck of cards.  Everyone of those cards was the ace of absolutely. 

I didn't show my hand.  I probably won't in the near future.  Past precedent has taught me to pay attention to what is on the table before I raise the ante.  But on my drive home, I couldn't help but think that even when a door was slammed in my face, hope made an unexpected visit.

That whole experience really makes me wonder about the nature of hope.  Like several other things in my life, I've never been able to cast it aside, because it seems to snap back into place.  And not because I'm a particularly idealistic person, either.  But there it is.

Hope springs eternal.

And here?  I feel perfectly safe to acknowledge that fact.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Taste of Humility

Sometimes, it's best to admit defeat.  We can struggle against current circumstances and still find ourselves victim to the very situation we tried to avoid.

Which is totally why you should anticipate seeing every person you haven't seen in a few years when you walk out of the house wearing yoga pants you should never wear in public.  Oh, and your hair will look wonky and you'll be fatter than you've ever been.

But lose 20 lbs, wear your cutest outfit, have the best make-up and hair day you've ever seen in your time on this planet, and you won't run into a single person who can call you by your first name.

I think this is what we in the Christian community like to refer to as humility.  Nothing like a little public embarassment to keep you humble.  But mostly, I mean hothing like a little public embarassment to keep me humble.  And most circumstances in my life seem hell bent on that very outcome.

You know how that affects me?  I've learned to laugh--longer and louder and harder than most people I know.  Sometimes, I'll laugh until someone else decides to join me just because they find my laughing so amusing.  Often, that laughing is justified, because something about the less savory parts of my life have made for the best stories when I turned the situation on it's side and looked at it through a different lens.

(Not all situations.  But a good many of them.)

Which is why I think it's a little amusing when my fat butt walks into a steakhouse with friends wearing yoga pants that shouldn't be anywhere near my cellulite.

Or laugh when I complete my midterm and my professor looks confused and says, "But it's only been fifteen minutes?!"  (Nothing like second guessing yourself on the way out the door!)

Or I miss my dog and usually discover him in my closet licking the garbage out of my black flats.

Who doesn't want to look through the wrong end of the telescope and laugh because we're pointing out something everyone's felt, but only you have been brave enough to discuss?

Since I've been feeling better, I've had the opportunity to appreciate the lack of uniqueness that often goes ignored in the day to day.

And I really hope that tomorrow, when you notice a little quirk in your regular schedule, you find a reason to laugh. 

"I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living; 
It's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope.
Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life's realities."
--Dr. Seuss

Monday, March 12, 2012

Suckingly Amusing

Things that suck (but amusingly so):

1.  Jay-Z had it right:  thirty is the new twenty.  At least it seems that way in current culture.  Or maybe just because I'm in my thirties now.  But because thirty is the new twenty, there are all these expectations regarding how a person should look well into middle age-ed-ness.  Sure, no one wants to have to rock mom jeans, but do I still have to entertain the idea of skinny jeans?  Isn't thirty too old to consider leggings and a shirt an outfit?

2.  I am never thirsty anymore.  Mostly because I consume approximately one lake of water a day.  But my dedication to the habit means I forever look like I'm trying out for America's Best Dance Crew, because I constantly have to visit the little girls room.

3.  My new favorite meal is Lemon-Splashed Shrimp Salad.  It incorporates a good portion of veggies (I eat the salad over a bowl of spring mix), and it includes good fats and a fresh flavor.  Unfortunately, I'm starting to feel toward my appetite the way my husband felt toward me when we were building a house.  Occasionally I've wanted to yell, "OH, SHRIMP IS IT?  HAVE YOU CONSIDERED FRESH STEAMED LOBSTER?  IT'S ONLY FIVE DOLLARS MORE!"  Nothing like wine taste on a beer budget.

4.  My dog loves biscuits.  He also loves the insides of my shoes.  Recently, he ate the footie socks I started wearing to keep him from licking the insides of my shoes.  Know how I found out?  His stomach didn't want to digest said footie socks.  You do the math.

5.  My hair is longer than it's been since I was five.  I'm almost Rapunzel.  Embellishments aside, I've realized that my goal of having long hair isn't nearly as functional as I'd once imagined.  Or maybe I needed less sleep in those days.  Regardless, the ponytail-every-day-thing makes my face look fatter so I'm going to have to compromise sleep, vanity or just get a stupid haircut.

6.  Fresh, crusty, French bread with olive oil, Parmesan, salt, pepper and tomato.  I can't quit you.  ::sobs::

7.  Spring break is on its way.  My spring break body is still in hiding.  Give me some french bread and I'll still call it a win.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Facilities

Water is a life sustainer.  I've never been great about drinking it, but I've been making an effort of late for a couple of reasons:

1.  My skin and hair are really dry.  I don't know that drinking water will take care of it entirely, but I have read that failing to drink enough will sap moisture for more important functions.

2.  Water is apparently a metabolism booster.  Who knew?  Since I'm tired so often, I figured increasing my water intake might help alleviate some of that exhaustion.

Those are really great reasons, right?  Add to them the fact that my CamelBack holds 24 oz. of water.  I try to drink one bottle before I leave for work; I drink two of those bottles at work.  Then, I drink another one when I get home.  That's 96 oz. of water.  At minimum.

Without a quick anatomy lesson, you can fully understand that my recent...*ahem* endeavor has meant I've had to forge a new relationship with the facilities. 

Losing weight and getting healthier should extend the number of years we're here with loved ones.

I just wonder how I'm going to spend time with them when I keep running to the bathroom every 10 minutes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I Wear My Sunglasses At Night

Laundry is beckoning me.  The dishwasher is screaming my name.  And all I can think is that I'm going to need my sunglasses today.

What is it about sunglasses that make me feel 75% cooler than I did before I put them on?  Puh-leeze don't tell me I'm on my own here.  You do it, too, right? 

As you slide in the car and situate yourself in the driver's seat, you take a few minutes to slide the cool factor on your face and realize that every outfit, hairstyle and lip gloss looks just a little bit better with an awesome pair of sunglasses.

That confession may make me a nut job (like that's something new, here?!), but I've felt this weird surge of hopefulness lately.  I'm not sure what to do with it or how to account for it, but something inside me is craving a pair of sunglasses, because it 'pears things are about to get bright up in here.

I have no news.  No revelations.  Just a beautiful day and the promise of more ahead.  And I feel like even though I know exactly where I am, there's been an inexplicable change of disposition.

Yesterday, I decided I hated the way I was teaching a certain unit and decided to rewrite the whole thing even though I've already started it.  It might be an ambitious undertaking, but I'm looking forward to it.  Weird?

This week my defensive personality took a back seat to laughter.  For the first time in forever, I didn't feel the need to confront someone who continues to pursue others to "clarify" situations we haven't discussed outside of our family unit.  More and more, I feel like God reminds me that innocence and track records speak for themselves.  That, and I think He's showing me that defensiveness never forged relationships that drew others closer to Christ.  (I also keep hearing Chris' voice in my head:  "If you know you're right, you can rest in that instead of trying to convince everyone else.")

In the last few days, it seems God is taking me to a new part of my life verse (which has become a life chapter now).  "See, I am doing a new thing!" He calls.  And He is.  For me.  For others I know.  For anyone willing to move away from the call of what "has to be" for the sake of what can be.

So today, I'm sliding on my sunglasses.  I don't want all this brightness to blind me.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Where I Am

I am dissatisfied.

It's a selfish admission, really.  And while I believe we all need to focus on the blessings in our lives, sometimes it doesn't hurt to admit what's true.

Weight loss isn't going well.  My on-again/off-again dieting strategy isn't effective.  I get frustrated that a few bad decisions (or splurges) on my part means going back to the very beginning again.  I feel like I'm forever stuck losing playing "Mother, May I?"  Anyone else remember that game?

My new regimen is meant to decrease the crazy amounts of insulin in my body so it will just work, but I will admit that low-carb eating requires copious amounts of planning.  Every meal is episode in "Eat This Not That."  Success with any new regimen is dependent on time, and that's exactly my problem.

Time is the real issue.  It's been my issue for a while now.  I just can't seem to reconcile the way time is meant to work.  I've waited too long.  I haven't waited long enough.  Success doesn't happen overnight; Rome wasn't built in a day.  But time flies and our lives are like a vapor.  Why are words of wisdom so contradictory?

That's my dissatisfaction.  I don't have enough time, but I've been waiting too long.  How do you like them apples?

Today, Amy and Dusty received some fantastic news.  God's hand here is obvious--that catch-in-the-throat-cannot-deny-his-presence-obvious.  And I am so thankful their tenure in this metaphysical waiting room is over.

But I'm also thinking about a few of you--people I know who are waiting for something.  Maybe years?  Maybe months?  And I want to let you know that I am holding your hand in this room.  It doesn't really matter if you will choose door number one while I'm waiting for door number three; I get you.

I'm still waiting, too.  Measured in months, eighty-five sounds like a lifetime.  But it boils down to seven years in this little room waiting for my number to be called.

In my dissatisfaction, though, I wonder if I should've even take a number?  If you're nodding your head, I'll gladly scooch over and share my couch.  We may be here a while.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What If...

My fifth hour class is my "what if" class.  Any story, assignment, due date or expectation requires at least 3 totally extraordinary circumstances beyond the realm of comprehension.  Most of the time that "what if" tendency makes me laugh, and that relaxes the atmosphere enough for them to listen and talk to me.  But today, as I sit at my desk wondering how I can fix some of my issues as an educator, I wonder if they aren't on to something.

In the past, I've responded to them much in the same way Caesar dismisses the soothsayer:  "He's a dreamer; let us leave him" (1.2.24).  But now, I have an entire list of what ifs thanks to their constant prodding.  Like the to-do lists at Young House Love, I wonder if a few what ifs shouldn't stay in front of our noses to keep us pushing toward some goal--even if that goal is an ever-rotating lazy susan.

So today, with your permission, I'd like to offer a few of my what ifs.

What If...

* We asked more questions instead of thinking we always had to have the answers?  Would that change the way I relate to others or my listening skills?

*  Relationship really was the most important part of Christianity to us?  Would that change the way we approach tradition?  Others?  Church?  Life?

*  I ran my classroom like test scores didn't matter?  Would I actually be a more effective educator if I didn't constantly feel pigeon-holed into a specific set of requirements that don't actually measure potential?

*  I made a commitment to encourage others through my words, behavior and attitude?  Would that change the way people react to me?  Would it change my workplace?  Would it change me?

*  I just put pictures up in my house without worrying about ruining the drywall?  (Hey, not everything has to be philosophical, does it?  Some things can just be useful, right?)

*  I committed certain times of every day to specific activities?  (Grading, laundry, dinner, Bible study, etc.)  Would that change my schedule?  My attitude?  My life?

What are your what ifs?  Any you'd like to keep in front of your face?

Monday, March 5, 2012

To Teach Like A Champion

Dinner will be finished in a few minutes, and then I will begin my exciting evening of studying for my midterm exam.  If I were super-ambitious, I would move on to grading to the massive amount of papers I've required my students to write over the course of this semester.

Those papers leave me sighing and thinking:  there have to be others ways to get students to process information and learn writing skills without requiring an actual paper.  I already know I'm going to have to revamp for next year so I'm not so behind; however, I also feel like I've lost certain aspects of my creativity.

A recent conference did a bit to renew some of that creativity, but I still feel like there has to be a way to require certain skills of a student while avoiding a crazy grading load.

Other teachers feel this way?

I recently ordered the book Teach Like a Champion after several recommendations.  I'm hoping the suggestions will help me rework the lesson plans in classroom so I can reach goals without becoming completely overwhelmed. 

Right now, I have two sets of papers for English II (150 papers total), two sets of papers for English III (50 papers total) and two sets of papers for English I (40 papers).  Total, that's about 500 pages of reading and correcting.  And that doesn't even include the tests and worksheets.

Please don't think I'm complaining.  I love my job.  It's pretty fantastic overall.  But my ambition in teaching often takes over my better judgment regarding what I can accomplish in a day.  So here we are.

Do you have certain expectations of your students?  What about teachers?  Do you expect them to work in certain timelines?  Or are you willing to grant leeway when you know that person really is working to educate your child?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Things I'm Loving 3/3/12

Laundry is getting done.  Papers will be graded.  Laundry lists will be completed and fulfilled.  Lesson plans will be written and projects revamped.  Material will be studied.  All before the end of the weekend.  I declare it so.

Suffice it to say, I need to set some ambitious goals for myself.  Instituting change is so ridiculously overwhelming fabulous, and it's my hope it works wonders on my attitude and my physical well-being.  That said, I thought it might make me smile to share a few things I have really enjoyed recently.

1.  Olive oil.  The more I read about olive oil, the more I believe it is one of the most beneficial things any person could include in his/her life.  I use it in cooking and for flavoring, because it contains good fats that are beneficial for a number of health conditions (PCOS among them).

But it isn't just a food, either.  Olive oil is a pretty amazing moisturizer.  As I've gotten older, my skin will not hold moisture.  It doesn't help that I have adult acne to endure, and acne treatments aren't known for their moisturizing properties.  After a bit of reading and discovery, I stopped using Pro.Ac.tive and started washing my face with a mixture of olive oil, castor oil and tea tree oil.

So far, my face is more clear than it ever has been.  Break-outs happen less often.  My skin is more moisturized.  For more information, check out this site.

2.  I'm a big fan of the Brocato line.  Most of the time, I use the Swell Volume products, and I think they are perfect for my fine, curly hair.  But in the last year or two, my hair has gotten extremely dry.  It was weird, because I've never, ever had issues with healthy hair.  My hair has always been strong.  I rarely get split ends.  Repeated highlighting and coloring didn't even seem to affect it.

Until recently.  When my hair broke after minimal highlights, I knew I had a problem.  My hair lacked moisture, so I went back to the line of products I trusted and looked for something specifically for dry, damaged hair.  I found Cloud 9 Miracle Repair Treatment, and within a week, my hair felt completely different.

Not only did it feel moisturized, my curl gained new life.  It had been flat and dull for a while, but this product changed that completely.  I leave it on my hair for about 5 minutes before I rinse, and then comb it out in the shower.  I highly recommend it.

3.  My wretched skin makes the perfect foundation nonexistent.  Recently, I found Smashbox's Camera Ready BB Cream.  It's light.  It's moisturizing.  It doesn't sit on the top of my skin, and they have colors that match my transparent skin color.

Thank you, Smashbox.  Thank you.

4.  Once Upon A Time.  I don't get to watch much television, because I don't have time to sit.  Sure, I turn the television on when I'm home and I putter around the kitchen--cooking and cleaning.  But actual watching time?  Minimal.

But I will make time to watch this show.  Thank heavens for the DVR.

5.  Church.  It's nice to be part of a vision.  And while it's painful, it's been a blessing to learn and feel the weight of conviction.

I'd been struggling for a while with what relationship was supposed to mean in Christianity.  God's call on my heart (particularly the call to move away from my carefully constructed egg of safety) was to move beyond the pew, outside the walls of the building and into the lives of people I loved.  I pray that call continues.

As encouragement, here's the video my church has been playing as a reminder regarding the importance of relationship:

"And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity" (Colossians 3:14).