Monday, April 26, 2010

This and That

This is going to be another random blog post. Don't have anything major to blog about but few little things.


Our new car! My poor little Cavalier couldn't take much more use. Last week it decided that going into park was something of the past. I would have to put it in reverse and put on the emergency break to keep it from rolling backwards. Fancy, huh? Once that happened we figured it might be time to start thinking about a new car. We were hoping my car would hold on until fall, but we had to bite the bullet and buy a little sooner. Oh well. We decided to get a 2009 Nisaan Xterra. Totally not what I was going to look at. I wanted a Murano, but after driving this I liked it a lot better and the price was more reasonable. Kaia LOVES it. It has much more room for her to roam around. So, there ya have it, our new car!


I wanted to share a couple of pictures from my friend Stefanie's bridal shower. It was Saturday and we had a great time! The first picture is Stef and I and the second picture is with our other high school friend, Megan. The three of us were best friends in high school and have lots of great memories together. I can't believe high school was 5 years ago. Doesn't seem possible! Anyways, so happy for you Stef. Can't wait for your wedding in just a couple of months!


Okay, so I know that I'm a little behind, but Duane and I watched Blind Side last night and absolutely LOVED it! What a great, positive message it sends to kids and adults alike. If you haven't seen it the movie is about a 16 year old boy that comes from a pretty broken home. He is pretty much homeless, and does not have much hope. A family (mainly mom) decides to take the boy in and raise him as their own. The boy turns out to be an awesome football player and goes on to play at a D1 school and then in the NFL. That's just the basics, but it was such a powerful message. It reaffirmed my strong feelings towards foster care/adoption. If you haven't seen it, go out and rent it!


This picture has nothing to do with the 4th item, just thought it was cool! I wanted to end this post with a verse that has helped me out a lot lately.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (NIV, John 13:34-35)

I know that this is not a new verse and you've probably heard it a thousand times. However, I really started studying it this week. You see, sixth graders aren't always easy to love (shocking, I know). There are days when I literally want to rip my hair out because I am so frustrated. And then I stop and think to myself, God loves me even though I am always sinning against him. He loves me no matter what I do. He has commanded me to do the same. Even the hardest kid to love, God calls me to do it. The slow check-out lady at Wal Mart, God wants me to love her. The lady that gives me a dirty look when Kaia barks at her dog, God wants me to love her. It's what he has done for me, so I will strive to love all people. Just kind of something that has been on my mind.

Well there ya go! Another random post. I'm off to eat dinner and continue studying this "crazy" love. Have a great week! :)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Notes From a First Year Teacher

I started this blog not because I thought people really were all that interested in my life, but instead as more of a journal and "scrapbook" for myself. My memory is not the best, and I wanted to have a detailed journal of things that are going on in our life. I wanted to be able to remember our first years of marriage, Kaia's first years, my first years as a teacher, and someday our first years of parenthood. That was the goal of this blog, so if you think this blog post is a bit boring...than at least I warned you! :) This post is more for me than it is for anyone else. I want to remember my first "year" of teaching so that I can look back in 5, 10, 15 years and read about the good and bad of my first year. I want to be able to write out all of the things that are running through my mind on a daily basis. So here it goes...

I am almost through my first year of teaching. Ok, technically it's not a full school year, but 6 months counts, right? I can't believe it. I have learned so much. More than any college professor or text book ever could have taught me. There have definitely been ups and downs, but I am thankful for the good times and the bad. Both helped me grow, and I watched my students grow right along with me. I am almost positive I have learned more than them this school year. Part of me can't wait for it to be over. To have a break from the daily grind. But part of me is sad to see my students move onto seventh grade. There are a few that have impacted me greatly, that I will truly miss.

I'm not exaggerating when I say that it seems like just yesterday I was a six grader, and today I sat in front of 28 six graders that have been put into my life for a reason. That reason is one I have always felt strongly about since I started college. Yes, I am a teacher and I need to "teach" the students in my classroom. However, I hope they have learned much more from me than prepositions, fractions, climate, and poetry (doesn't sixth grade sound like fun). It has always been my goal to teach students the important role they play in our classroom and one day society. I want them to learn to respect each other, and work out differences. I want them to learn that it is ok to struggle to understand certain concepts. It is ok to ask questions and ask for help. It is ok to get frustrated and want to give up. I want them to work at their own rate, even if it takes them 2 weeks longer than the rest of the class. These are all totally normal feelings and issues. I think this is something students struggle to understand. They want to be "normal" and keep up with their friends. They are afraid to be different because they may get made fun of. Being different is ok, in fact, it's better than "normal".

Most importantly I hope my students have learned that it is ok to mess up. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. It is what you do with those mistakes that matter. This is something I have tried to emphasize this year. I always point out when I mess up and make mistakes. I would never want my students to think I am any better than them or that I don't make mistakes. That's ridiculous. Unfortunately, I am just now really understanding the importance of this, so I might not have emphasized it enough. Do I think they fully understand it? A few of them do, but a lot don't. This is one area that I am going to strongly emphasize next year (or whenever I have my own classroom again).

These 28 pre-teens have been challenging. Oh, have they been challenging! There are many days that I got in my car and burst into tears. There were days when I felt like I had little control and that no one was learning anything from me. There were days when I wanted to quit and never teach again. I got frustrated, I snapped a few times, and I'm sure I will a few more times before May 28. I said things to students that I didn't mean and would later regret. This class is a rough group. However, part of me is very thankful that God gave me a difficult class to start out with. It has taught me to be much more patient and much more understanding. I am trying not to raise my voice so much or let little things get to me. After all, they are 12 year olds. They are going to be weird, annoying, aggrivating, and down right rude. It's to be expected and every now and then I have to remind myself that even though they are "older", they are still kids that are learning and growing all of the time.

I am known to be a more negative person. I am really trying to work on this and that starts in my classroom, with my students, and with my fellow teachers. I could go on and on about all of the things that have gone "wrong" in my classroom. I could list off all of the times I've been disrespected, lied to, or hurt. But what good is that going to do? I am trying not to dwell on the bad, but think about the good. And there is lots of good! Even on my worst day, when the students are out of control and I am constantly redirecting to maintain stability, seeing a student "get it" is so worth it. It's worth all of the crap that teachers have to deal with (in my opinion). Watching a student gain the understanding they've been looking for is so worth it.

There are several students in my class that I will never forget. Were they always the "best behaved" kids? No. Did they get under my skin? Absolutely. However, these memorable students worked their tail ends off to be good students and classroom leaders. They are my students that aren't afraid to ask questions, to seek advice, and to help me out whenever it is needed. They "get it". They don't always understand everything the first time, but they don't give up until they get it. I love watching students form their own understandings about what we are learning. I don't always have to be the "know all" teacher (clearly, I'm far from it). I want students to learn with me not from me. There are a few students that really showed me what that looked like. Something I will never forget.

This past six months has been by far the hardest sixth months of my life. They have been hard mentally and emotionally. Really getting to know myself as a teacher and get to know my students has taken a lot out of me. There are days when it seems like too much work. Like I don't have a minute of free time. There are moments when I want to run out of the classroom, go outside and scream. But it's all worth it. I am making a difference in kid's lives. I am impacting them, challenging them, and helping them. Believe me when I say that I am in no way trying to sound as though I have it all figured out. Trust me, I will never have it all figured out. I just feel like I am helping kids. Helping kids. That sums up my dream job. It doesn't pay a whole lot, and somedays it's nothing short of terrible, but I am helping kids become whatever it is they want to become. Teachers helped me get to where I am today, and I love paying it forward. Bottom line is, I love my job!

Well there you have it. Bored yet? I could literally sit here and type for hours, but I know that you are already dozing off, so I'll leave it at that. :)

Here are some pictures of my classroom. I would love to add pictures of my students, but I think that's illegal. Their names and faces will be permanently engrained in my head.

Sunday, April 18, 2010






And guess what?! We are going to be an aunt and uncle AGAIN! We are SO excited! Can't wait to meet Haylea's brother or sister in December! :)

My Sweet Puppy

Kaia is almost a year old! She turned 10 months this month which means come June, we will have a one year old puppy! We survived the first year of puppy-hood (barely). As I type this post she is putting her rope on the computer and begging me to play with her. She is doing this as Duane lays on the couch next to me, doing nothing. It seems like she only wants me to play with her when I am doing something.

Honestly, Kaia has not been a horrible puppy. There is not a whole lot of chewing, although we do occasionally find her with our shoes or socks in her mouth (I just pulled my shoe out of her mouth five minutes ago). She still bites quite a bit so we're trying to work on that. If you have come into our house you know that she has a terrible habit of jumping on anyone and everyone. This is such a problem that we've signed her up for obedience school. You heard me, obedience school. Kaia is going to be obedient (ha)! We'll see how that goes. We should probably video tape it because it's bound to be comical. She also HATES taking a bath. However, I will have you know that yesterday I, and I alone, gave Kaia a bath! I literally dragged her into the shower and hosed her down! She only tried to escape once. I was pretty proud of myself. After all, she only weighs 15 lbs. less than me!

Luckily the good things out weigh the bad with Kaia. She loves to go on walks, which is great! She sits by the door when I get home from school just waiting for me to pull the leash out. She also loves sports! She'll play soccer with Duane for hours. She has also caught the frisbee a few times. This made Duane pretty proud. She loves to play with her friends: Daisy, Russ, and Audrey. She has lots of fun with them!

All in all, Kaia is a great puppy! I can't wait to have a fence in the backyard so she can have room to run and we don't have to worry about her chasing joggers and bike riders (which she does quite frequently).

How could I blog about her without pictures?!

Probably looking at birds..she loves to chase them!

I love it when I come home from school and find Kaia with her feet up in the air!

So cute!

She loves to stick her head out the window in the car!

Loves sports!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

This Old House

Duane and I live in a very old house. I mean, 114 years old. We fell in love with it the moment we walked through the front door. Both Duane and I love old houses and didn't even bother to look at any "newer" homes during our search. We loved our so much that we placed an offer on it just one day after we saw it. We knew it was the one. It needed a lot of work, but we saw so much potential that we just had to have it! Almost two years later we like it so much more! We have completely renovated the inside and made it our own. When we first bought it it was dark and boring, two years later it is bright and homey. It's great. We love it (have I mentioned the word love enough?!)

I am a big fan of living in an old house; however, sometimes I feel like the work is never ending. There is always something that needs to be done. For instance, this summer we have to conquer the task of painting the exterior of the house. Now I am well aware that my house is pretty little, but it's still a lot of painting. And did I mention that before we paint we have to scrape the current paint off. Doesn't that sound like fun?! Ugh, not so much! The more we think about it, the more tempted we are to just hire someone to do it all. I'm sure it will be expensive, but I think it would be well worth it (hopefully Duane will soon feel the same way).

Although there is always work to be done, I love so many things about having an old house. Things that by far outweigh the massive amounts of work that need to be done. This house has so much character! There are new little things I notice every few days. Details that aren't in newer homes. After living in this house, I don't know that I'll ever live in a new house. Don't get me wrong, I would love having actual "coat closets" but I don't think I'll ever be able to sacrifice the character. The exterior or interior of my house doesn't look like my neighbors, or the house down the street. It's unique, and I love that.

I know I can't live here forever. After all, it is only two bedrooms which means after we have a baby we will probably need to move on. Unless we finish off the attic and add a couple of extra bedrooms...Oh, the possibilities! The day we have to leave this house will be a sad one for sure, so for now I'll just enjoy it (even all the work)! Here are some pictures of some of the unique characteristics I love about our old house...

None of our doorknobs match, but I think they are all so cool!

Another doorknob

Door hinges (I think that's what they're called)

Front door and door bell

Storage cabinets in the bathroom

The wood floors are original to the house. They are really scratched up thanks to Kaia, but they still look great!

Love the door between the yellow room and kitchen! And the windows that are above all the doors!

All of the big windows are part of the reason we bought this house!

Thanks for letting me brag about our lovely house for a few minutes. :)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A few of my favorite things!

Just wanted to take a minute to introduce you to some of my favorite things right now!


I am love, love, loving these yellow flowers on the bush next door. Since I am not really into the whole gardening thing (although I would like to be), I am not sure what their called. They smell so yummy and look so springy! Love it!


My new Sanuks! Duane has had a pair of these for a while now. It took me a while to become sold on these, because quite honestly I am not thrilled with the way some of them look. However, there was a store in Florida that had a huge selection of them and I fell in love! They are the most comfortable shoes ever! If your looking for a comfortable pair of shoes..check out their website!


My small group is currently reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I have LOVED this book so far. It is all about the "crazy" love Jesus offers us. It was a great book to help my heart prepare for Easter. It is hard for me to wrap my mind around why God would send his only son to die on the cross for us. You and me. Totally undeserving sinners. The thought blows my mind. However, this book does a great job at digging deeper into this great love that we so do not deserve. Man, I am so grateful for God's grace!


I am loving the new summer scents from Bath and Body Works. I am a Yankee Candle girl through and through, but my mom picked me up a couple of these candles and I really like the way they smell. They are fresh, summery (is that a word?) scents that remind me of the warm, school free times to come!


My (ok, our) MacBook Pro! We have had this laptop since mine went kaput in November. Every day I love it more and more! Duane would say I love it a little too much as I am constantly on it. I think another Mac is in our near future because Duane is getting tired of me hogging this one. Duane and I can safely say we will never own anything other than a Mac ever again! :)


One of my favorite parts of having a dog is taking her on long walks! We have been taking lots of walks with Carrie and her dogs and they are so much fun! It is quite a sight to see Carrie and I with our three dogs strolling down the streets of Plainfield. Carrie's other dog is not pictured because she quite frankly can't stand my in-your-face dog. Ha! We have become quite the walkers since we decided to sign the dogs up for the Mutt Strut at the Speedway. If you have a dog, check it out. We're really excited about it! :)


I have become quite obsessed with taking pictures. Actually, I have always been obsessed with taking pictures, so you can just imagine how much this obsession has grown. Duane and I recently got a Nikon D40 that we love! It's a very affordable, high quality camera. I'm no professional..but it's fun!


Ok, cheesy I know, but I really love our family Easter picture (and of course the guy and dog) so it just had to make my favorite things list!

Well there you have it! Some of the things I love right now! What are some of your most recent favorite things?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Beach Bums

Duane and I had a great trip to Florida! We flew to Tampa on Sunday and then took a taxi to Clearwater Beach. We survived the plane ride (I hate flying) without any major problems. Clearwater was beautiful! We stayed at a Hilton, which was great, despite the thousands of families that decided to stay at the Hilton as well. I am well aware it was spring break week, and clearly I am a fan of kids, but I was hoping for a mostly kid free vacation. Oh well, no big deal! It did make Duane and I excited to one day (in the FARRR away future) take our little family on a trip to the beach. We have so much to look forward to!

It was rainy and gross on Sunday, but each day the weather got better and better. The day we left was definitely the nicest day (go figure) but at least we got to enjoy most of the day before heading home. While we were there, we honestly didn't do a whole lot. I am of the belief that vacations to the beach are not meant to be stressful, full schedule vacations. They are meant for lots of time on the beach and lots of sleep! We spent our days in the sun listening to the ocean and lots of seagulls. It was so nice to not have a set schedule. We just kind of went with the flow. That's my definition of vacation!

For most of the trip we laid on the beach all day, and then would head to local restaurants for dinner. I blogged about our favorite, Rockaway Grill. We loved the food and the atmosphere. Duane got to eat lots of seafood (yuck!) and I got to eat lots of chicken..surprise I know! On our last night we went to the pier next to our hotel for some sunset viewing and shopping. Local venders come and bring all sorts of cool stuff and set up shop along the pier. It was fun to walk around and look at all of their crafty things.

Overall, it was an awesome trip. Great one-on-one time with my husband, lots of rest, and lots of great food. Can't beat that! This was my first vacation with our new "fancy" camera, so you better believe I took a TON of pictures. I won't bore you with them all, but here are of few of my favorites from the trip!

Clearwater Beach and Pier pretty!

Looking off of our balcony towards the ocean. Wish I could wake up to this every morning!

Duane and I on the beach! This was pre-sunburn!

No caption here - just liked the picture!

Pier 60

Duane and I walking along the beach.

LOVE it!

Favorite picture from the trip! Please excuse the long sleeves - it was chilly at night!

Checking out the jewlery on Pier 60


Another balcony view

Looking to the left of the balcony. We had the best views!

I have a slight obsession with palm trees!

Ok, so maybe more than a few pictures! I'm sure my mom will appreciate all of them, even if no one else does!

Well I'm off so that I can get the house ready for pizza, woodchucks (mine and Carrie's fav.), movies, games, and great friends! Have a great friday night! :)