Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer adventures part 1

So I just finished the school year with a wonderful visit from my sisters.  They came for the last two days of the year and we explored Yakima, Seattle, and San Juan Island. I really enjoyed getting to see parts of the state with them that I had never seen before.

In Seattle we stayed in South Lake Union, which had an awesome view of the Space Needle.   The first day we explored the city, and went to the Chiluly Garden and Glass.  It was one of the happiest, prettiest museums I have ever visited.  For dinner we had the best sushi I have ever had.  On Sunday we explored Pike Place and went on a distillery tour.  We also found a new favorite restaurant in Seattle and met my friend Kristin from PACE.  Then Willie had to go back home and go to work and the twins and I continued the adventure together.
Here is a picture of us at the Chilhuly Garden in Seattle, right under the Space Needle

From Seattle, Elizabeth, Anne and I head off to Anacortes to catch the ferry to San Juan Island. On the way there, we saw a pod of orcas! They were really far away, but it was super cool to see them in the wild.  On the island, we stayed in Friday harbor and spent a day and a half being tourists, tasting wine, eating ice cream, and seeing the parks and beaches.  Then we had to head to Sea-Tac so Anne and Elizabeth could head home.  It always makes the time fly when I get to spend it with family.

I think this summer will be full of adventures- we are heading the the beach for the 4th of July and then I am going to a teaching conference in Las Vegas. In August we are heading to NJ for my older sister's wedding.  Before I know it, school will be starting again.

Monday, February 16, 2015

To give up, or not give up?

   So Lent is just around the corner, and Willie and I are going through our usual bout of what to give up, or should we even.  I'm not going to lie, in past years the things I have given up have been more for a healthy fresh start rather than spiritual renewal.  Last year I didn't give anything up, and instead tried to do something extra, which was all well and good, except that I obviously set the bar way too low and when Easter came around I don't know that I was honestly any better for my Lenten observance.
     I started thinking about this post by looking at some of the things that I had put on my list back in January, when my friend Andrea suggested a list of things to accomplish in the year, rather than New Year's resolutions.  Unfortunately most of those are personal, not spiritual- things like "run more 5ks" and read at least 10 nonfiction books.  So then I moved on to what have been the most positive growing experiences in my life this year?
    So here is what I am doing for Lent this year: Every day I am going to give something to someone I care about.  These may be little things, like a card, or a piece of candy to a coworker, or bigger things, like a book that made me think of you.  I think that focusing on others rather than myself is exactly what will help me to grow the most this Lent, and also help brighten someone else's day, I hope.

If you are interested in getting a letter in the mail, or a postcard, or a craft or something- please post in the comments below.  Thanks!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Thoughts after 10 days of intentional positivity

Two Fridays ago I had a moment of teaching that I wasn't proud of. In a moment of frustration I literally screamed "No, No, No!" while throwing papers on my desk. I don't normally throw temper tantrums, and I was really upset with myself. So, after beating myself up for the weekend, I decided to make a drastic change. For one week, I was going to think positive, act positive, and speak positive. I wanted to see what choosing to look on the bright side would do for me professionally and personally.

So last Monday, I entered the classroom with an intentionally sunny attitude. I have a really tough class this year, and I wanted to see what my attitude would do for me.  To be honest, that first day seemed like the world, my class and my life were conspiring to steal my positivity.  But I made it through, and by Wednesday I realized things were getting easier.  A few days in, my class got in trouble for being negative in their speech about another teacher, and I wondered if I should share with them the way I was challenging myself to look at the positive.  So I told them the whole story to try to build some morale.  And here's where I totally underestimated my students, something that I'm not super proud about either.

13 of them asked to join me.  

So for a week, 14 of us chose to look at the positive and decided we would check in together at the end. Their written checkins made me realize what a cool thing we had done together.  With no identifiers, here are some of the things they said.

"I realized that I was doing better in school and work was easier to get done.  I had more free time because staying positive helped me get started on work faster without complaining."

"Choosing the positivity challenge was an easy choice. I want to be a better friend and peer."

"I noticed that me being positive made other people be positive also."

And this one was so good I am sharing the whole paragraph:
"I think I had a good experience attempting the positivity challenge. I not only noticed that the people around me were happier, but I was as well.  This week I had a hard time trying to stay positive, but I think if I tried it more often, it would get easier to notice the good rather than the bad.  I think being positive is hard because we see others as competition, not friends. It's easier to put someone down to put yourself up than to put someone else up and have people think better of you.  If we all just tried to be positive for one day, we'd know more about each other and make new friends."

I couldn't have said that better myself.   Our classroom truly was a different place this week.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Productive Weekend

Last weekend was a welcome break from the craziness of the first week of school.  Out here, we start our school year before Labor Day and then the long weekend gives us our last tastes of summer.  We lived our last weekend to the fullest!  Here's what we did:

We canned and canned and canned.  14 jars of peaches in syrup, 7 jars of peach sweet and spicy salsa, 10 jars of regular salsa and 5 jars of pickled red onions.  We worked with friends and it was a really fun day.  Here are my attempts at food bloggery photos.

Lining them all up on the fireplace and then putting them away made me feel a bit like Grandma Tildy from But No Elephants, so longsuffering Willie let me read that to him afterwards.  He said he identified most with the elephant :)

We also brewed a batch of beer for Alex and Amber's wedding in October.  Alex was the best man in our wedding, and he and Willie were roommates for years.  We are so glad he and Amber are together-they are great for each other.  And Amber and I have a lot in common because she is also a teacher.  Here are our brewing pics:

Willie had already made one batch, and is making another today at Alex's bachelor party.  When all is said and done, I think he will have made half the beer for the wedding, which is awesome!

And the last cool foody thing we did this weekend was use my birthday paella!  Ever since I studied in Salamanca in 2006, I have wanted to make a real paella.  For my birthday Willie got me the pan, the rice and the chorizo, which is no mean feat when you live in Yakima.  We had a bunch of friends over and feasted...a perfect end to a great weekend!

Friday, August 15, 2014

End of summertime

So the summer break is winding down, and I wanted to revisit some of my goals that I had set for myself earlier in the summer. I definitely had some successes, but in some areas I didn't accomplish all that I had wanted.
Goal 1:read at least 50 books from school. While I didn't finish this goal, I did read nearly 50 books this summer, but many of them were adult books, not books from my classroom.  However, I did discover the Alix London mystery series and another cozy mystery series, both of which I look forward to continuing.

Goal 2: clean the clost.  I already posted my hugely successful pictures :)

Goal 3: write the portfolio.  This is my weakest goal.  I did get a bunch written, but I did not finish the portfolio.  My new goal is to finish a rough draft of entry 1 by the start of the year....which is next Tuesday. Wish me luck!

Goal 4: search classroom deals.  This is the ideal time for this goal, and I am on it.  The paper hoarding has begun!

Goal 5: I feel very successful here.  I attended a conference, read two books, and aligned six curriculum maps.  I am ready to help my students meet standard!

Some other cool things I did this summer include:
Learning to do a waterfall braid
Learning to crochet!  I have wanted to do this for so long!
Traveling a bit, including exploring my new home state (or not so new, but more permanent)
Helping Willie get ready to go back to school

I am sad to see summer go, but happy to be back with an exciting new class and awesome new co-teacher!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Some time at home

So the time has rolled around for my yearly summer pilgrimage to New Jersey.  While I have been living in Washington for 6 years, New Jersey remains, and probably always will, my home.  Besides the usually gluttony on Dunkin' Donuts coffee and taylor ham, two delicacies unavailable to me in Washington State, it has been lovely to just spend some much needed time with family, whom I haven't seen in a year.
I had coffee with my friend Christine last night, and she said something that got me thinking.  During our conversation she said, "I love my twenties.  I am really proud of what I have accomplished in them."  Her positivity made me look at my own twenties with a critical eye.  I still have two years left in my twenties, but what got me thinking was that Christine wasn't measuring herself by other people or their standards, but by her own ideas of what is important.
So here is my non-comparison based list of what I am proud of accomplishing in my twenties:

1. Getting healthy:  At age 20, I hit a personal low.  I weighed 98 pounds and was struggling with depression.  By working with several good therapists and spiritual directors, I was able to put on some weight and began running- something I love.  While it is still a battle to love my body, I am a healthy 130 now and have run 6 half-marathons, something I wouldn't have dreamed I could do at 20.

2. Becoming (and staying) a teacher:  This is my vocation.  To make it happen, I took the risk of moving to Washington, and everything has worked for the good.  I love my job, my students, my coworkers.  I know this is the profession I will continue to grow in and love.

3. Meeting and marrying the right person:  Willie is the yin to my yang.  We met at a trivia game at Bert's pub in 2009 and got married in 2013.  We have a wonderful life together and it is just starting for us.  The world is our oyster.

4. Finding my inner leader: I used to be a pushover.  I had perfected my role of "side-kick friend" and always felt vaguely unhappy in that.  I think my biggest obstacle to overcome in this regard was the fact that I constantly compare myself to other people.  This is still something that I am working on, but I know it's gotten a lot better.

5. Taking a leap of faith: At 21, I packed two suitcases and moved to the West Coast.  I didn't know I had it in me, but I did.  I have now lived there for six years, and while I would love to move closer to my family, the idea of being in a new place and learning new things no longer scares me.

If you are reading this, and want to take the time to comment, what are five things you are proud of accomplishing in any decade of your life?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A success story

 I started by taking every single thing out and deep cleaning.  We're talking mopping, scrubbing etc.
Then everything went in, but this time in an order that made sense.  I got rid of a lot of stuff too.

Summer goal one= accomplished!