Saturday, October 17, 2009

Feeling Thankful

This has been a challenging week both at school and at home, and despite all of that, I am feeling very thankful for my life and all of the wonderful people and things in it. Every Wednesday I meet up with a friend to play trivia and laugh and joke with the people who frequent Bert's pub in Yakima. I know it seems like a silly thing to be thankful for, but those people and experiences bring great joy to my life every Wednesday. This week we were only one out of placing, which is pretty decent for a team of only two players.

The spiritual exercises are going really well. Today was decision day as to whether or not I would continue with the year long retreat. I felt like more was drawing toward that decision than away from it, so I decided to go ahead with the next seven months. It's one of the biggest commitments I've made thus far in my life, but I am pretty peaceful about it. I also got my first choice for spiritual directors, which also seemed to be a confirmation of the choice. My prayer life is keeping me more centered than I've felt since I moved out here, and since I'm about to be facing some major life decisions, that seems like a good thing.

Our community is moving again, which is a blessing too. Our current house is a health hazard due to lack of sufficient heat and a persistent mold problem, so we are hoping to move by the first of the month. While our housing situation has been less than ideal, it had brought the four of us together in a way that I wouldn't have believed possible two months ago. Ironically, it is David, who I had the most trouble with this summer, who has become my closest friend in the community.

Things are going well, perhaps because I am taking the time to notice how good I really have it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Getting acquainted with my house

So I've spent the last two days at home sick. In the world of teaching, people really don't take sick days. Sure they're there for us to "use" but I know colleagues who haven't used a sick day in 15 years. Normally we just drug up and hope we can be pleasant enough to our students to last out whatever is getting us down. When you're not there, you can't really be certain that your students are actually learning anything, and with the class that I have this year, I can't be sure that they aren't burning down the school, beating each other up or single-handedly wreaking some sort of havoc. But with a 102 degree fever and wretched cough, my options were pretty limited. So I've spent the last two days doing a lot of sleeping, watching movies on my computer and catching up on paperwork. I suppose I am making myself sound more productive than I really am...about 70 percent of the time was spent sleeping.

But there have been many bright moments in my enforced homestay. For the first time in a long time I feel like I am caught up on sleep. Also, my students sent a really cute get well soon card home with my roommate David. I've been able to catch up with siblings via G-chat as my voice hasn't really been up to phone conversations. I got to talk to my good friend Chris who is in Africa doing a year of service.

And just before my flu experience I was able to go run another race with the NF endurance team, and this time coerced three friends to join me. So we ran 5 miles of the Portland marathon, with me pulling the slowest time due to the fact that I was beginning to come down with whatever this thing I have is. But it was wonderful to go to the team pasta dinner and make some new friends, and just get generally inspired. And my friend Patrick came in fourth in the whole race...out of thousands! It was really amazing.

I'm heading back to school tomorrow, which I am really excited about.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Fair is a Veritable Smorgasbord

Yesterday for our staff development activity we went to the opening day of the Central Washington State Fair and did a scavenger hunt. My team was way too competitive considering the fact that we all knew our principal had no intention of actually checking. The winners were the ones who made the farthest flying paper airplane with their sheet. But it was really cool to be at a real state fair. We saw animals and plants and all sorts of things. Students from our school had an art exhibit there, which was really cool. I wanted to go on more of the carnival rides, but my roommates weren't really feeling it. I need to get back there and go on the tilt-a-whirl before the fair is gone. That used to be my favorite ride when Mrs. Nell would take us to the Our Lady of Peace fair.

So I'm in week two of a five week retreat with my parish out here. I'm doing the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, which is a very true to life and contemplative form of prayer. So far the first week has been good, but at the end of the five weeks I have to decide if I'm doing the whole year retreat. It's a huge commitment, but I have a feeling that it would be pretty life-changing. But for the next five Saturdays I go to the church and meet with my small group. I think it will be really rewarding.

I've had a rough week at school. One kid called me Emily during class, and we had some quality time together after school. Another got detention for behavior in class, and one of my students gave another one a panic attack. Neither were in school the next day, the one because he was still so traumatized and the other because he was suspended. This class is about 12 times harder to teach than my class last year, and that one wasn't easy either. Oh well. We shall overcome.

Autumn is beginning here, which is a fun time with all the harvesting and such.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bumbling Along

So the start of school has kept me exceedingly busy and slightly remiss on updating. So many things to tell you all about! But to keep this from taking me the rest of my life, I'll stick with the most West Coast adventure that I've had to date: the Ellensburg Rodeo.

Let me tell you, rodeos are wicked cool. Shane and I went with his friend Cody (yes the two friends I was there with had appropriately cowboy-esque names) and Cody's family bought us the tickets. It was quite an event and I learned many things. The first was that rodeos are really exciting and I like them a lot. I wasn't sure that I would like it, because the whole idea was vaguely reminiscent of a bull fight, and those I find somewhat appalling. But we got to watch all sorts of events, including bareback riding, steer wrestling, barrell-racing, and even bull riding! The bullriding was the coolest part. I had no idea that the rodeo clown is there for a purpose. Maybe you already knew all this, but the rodeo clown has all sorts of mad skills, and the main purpose of him being there is to buy a bull rider precious seconds after he has been bucked off the bull. Bulls get real mad at the people riding them, so while they are running to safety on the sidelines, the rodeo clown deflects the attention.

So I'm slowly becoming a native out here, and if I stay out here, I'm probably going to have to name my sons things like "Ty" and "Wes" just in case they want to become cowboys. All the men in the rodeo had very appropriate names for their profession.
Well I'm off to dinner then church!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A creative moment

Warning: spontaneous creativity ahead...

She looked like a fashion plate, standing outside on the sidewalk the day we met. I think it was the shoes that I noticed first, because they made absolutely no sense for a Washington winter. I was bundled in as many layers as I could manage, from sweaters and scarves, to boots and a hand-knit, slightly lopsided wool hat. Her shoes were tall and pointy and lime green, a startling contrast to the cold and the grey of the morning. They were definitely not the type of shoes one could wear with socks.

I debated going over to her, asking who she was and what had brought her to our little corner of the world, but I stood frozen to the sidewalk, literally and figuratively. She checked the scrap of paper in her hand, scanned the street, presumably for street numbers, then turned and walked purposefully down the opposite side of the street, past the library.

It was a split second choice, but I suddenly knew that it was incredibly important for me to go to the library at that very moment, and with all possible speed. Ironically, this decision made it necessary for me to follow the same path as the mystery girl. Before I knew it, we both stood at the library door, which I gallantly opened for her. "After you, miss."

Not really sure where this is going...just a picture in my mind.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Taking this in a new direction

So I realized that sometimes this blog may sound a little whiny, and I want to change that starting from this moment forward. I'm not the only person who's ever moved to a new place and had a hard time adjusting, so instead I want to focus on the adventures of this place I find myself calling home.

For example, right now I am sitting in a really cute little independently owned coffee shop in southeast Portland. There are so many lovely places to sit and drink a cup of coffee in this city. This one is attached to an offshoot of Powells, which is the world's most amazing bookstore. If you are ever in Portland, Powells is a must-see. I had a moment in a coffee shop this morning as well, where I was able to sit by a window and watch the world go by while scribbling down a few lines of poorly written poetry. It made me realize that I really like to sit in coffee shops and read and write. This also made it occur to me that there is no reason not to do this when in Yakima. The one cute coffee shop in town is within walking distance of my new home, so maybe once a week it would be good for me to get out of the house and go sit there for a while to do just that.

I also reread Regina Doman's The Shadow of the Bear this weekend and it rekindled in me a desire to write something of value. This summer was an interesting time for me as I took a long look at what had become of my faith during the first year of PACE. I realized that I value the Catholic identity of my personal faith, and now I need to see what that means for my life as a teacher and hopefully someday as a writer. I love the idea of rewriting fairy tales, but I also love the idea of infusing my writing with my own Catholic identity, slthough unlike Regina, I think that I want to keep these two goals separate and maybe write two totally different kinds of books. We shall see where these musings take me. My poetry about women in the Bible is slowly but surely coming along. If anyone wants to give me feedback, it would be greatly appreciated. (hint hint, I need someone to read for me :)

On that note, I think I'll sign off for the night and start writing something creative.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

An eventful week

So Glacier National Park was every bit as beautiful as I had imagined, and Montana is still my dream location for starting my cherry farm. Perhaps it is even more ideal to me now that I've been there and seen how absolutely amazing it is. I am currently in the process of uploading pictures to facebook so you can all appreciate the watered-down version of the experience that even gorgeous photos can give you. If you can't tell, I kind of fell in love with Glacier.

It rained most of the time we were there, so I was wet and cold pretty much all the time, except for when we were hiking. But it was totally worth it, and I learned all about camping. I can now start a fire, cook all sorts of yummy things in it, and make friends at a campsite.

In other news, I went to the eye doctor today because I've been having trouble reading the road signs while driving. They upped my prescription, which I expected, but then they gave me some very different news. Apparently I have a hole in the retina of my left eye and "retinal thinning". While I don't know yet how serious this is, I do know that I have to see a specialist and also go back to the regular guy in 6 months. This is causing me rather a great amount of stress. My mom ended our conversation about the issue with a very cheerful "well, you only get one set of eyes." This does not make me feel good.

So, if you have a moment and think of me, send some prayers for my eyes this way. I don't think my cool new purple glasses are going to do it for me on this one.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Poem

"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She replied, "No one, sir." John 8:10-11

Why is he writing in the dirt?
They brought me here, dragging me
through the dust and the filth of the
street, flinging me down, making me
know shame.

They are yelling at him- teacher look
at this whore, she what she's done
It was their hatred made me what
I am. Still he writes in the dirt, I read
my name.

They have stones in hand, to kill and
bury me, but slowly their jeering stills.
I am afraid like I have never been before
as he speaks, but one by one they drop
their stones.

Footsteps fade into the distance and
the dust kicked up makes my eyes
water. I still have not looked up, not
seen his face, but I know that he and I are

Where are they? He would know
better than I, yet he asks. Has no
one condemned you. They have condemned
me for years with their laughter at
my pain.

I know that's not what he's asking so
I find my voice and tell him no, waiting
for the judgment. Instead he offers
something new. Go then, and be whole

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Another Bend in the Road

On Saturday or Sunday I will once again pack up my belongings into my Intrepid and make the drive over the Satus Pass and into Yakima. I am really excited to be back in school in teaching mode and to see all my old students and meet my new ones. I'm feeling a little bit burnt out by school right now, and my motivation is lacking. Right now I have little to no interest in investing time in things which don't directly benefit my students. That being said, I know that all the things I'm currently working on will definitely make me a better teacher in the long run, but it's hard to keep that perspective in the midst of papers and assignments and deadlines. I'm also feeling a little frazzled as I realize that I will not be living with my old roommates ever again.

My new housemates have been much more difficult to live with than I had originally anticipated. There are some really strong personalities in the group, and I am not one of them. As a result, I'm rather unhappy with a lot of the situations I find myself in. I'm getting more assertive about things, but its hard not to compare with the people I lived with last year. I don't think I'll ever be friends with at least one of the people I live with.

On a more cheerful note, I am challenging myself to be more creative this week. I am going to write one poem each day for the next seven days and see how it works. Maybe if I have any decent efforts, I will post them here. My goal is to get back into the practice of writing every day, and start small. Then maybe I can expand things a bit and get back to writing some fiction. Another goal for mental stability is to get back into running. I've been taking things a little too easy since the half-marathon, and I'm getting excited to run for a cause again. I'm recruiting a bunch of people to run a 5 mile portion of the Portland Marathon with me in October. If anyone's interested, let me know.

I'm trying to be better about investing time in people out here. I miss having friends.

Monday, July 27, 2009

If we keep silent

Well, after a long silence, the writer returns. I realized the other day that I haven't written anything creative since March. That is a very long time. Too long.

But as I was thinking about this, I also realized that in the last year I have written over 50 pages of personal reflection on teaching and faith and community. That's no small feat, when you think about it. In the process, I've learned quite a bit about myself, and also changed a lot as a result. While it might seem self-centered, I think it's almost more important. Maybe all my non-creative writing in the last months is giving me a firm foundation for some work ahead of me. Maybe it's just supposed to give me that window into myself. I'm not really sure yet.

I had some pretty interesting experiences this week. On Friday night I went and watched Dirty Dancing with some friends at Pioneer Square. We brought a picnic and there was free popcorn, so all in all it was a fabulous night. Corey is planning a similar event at our apartments this weekend. Then on Saturday night we had a barbeque out on the bluff, overlooking the Willamette River. The sunset was killer, and the trains on the railway bridge looked like postcards. On Sunday I went to my first ever Latin mass. It was possibly one of the most beautiful and spiritual experiences I've had in a long time. I learned how to read chant notation and was also impressed with how much I could understand with my Spanish major and two years of Latin. It was very solemn and very holy, and while I don't think that I could go to that type of service every week, it was a real experience of God for me.

It's hard to believe that there are only two weeks left of summer classes. This summer has gone by so fast, probably because I've been so busy. I went home and saw Philly and D.C., came back to Portland, spent weekends in Olympia, Yakima, and Boston, wrote a larg portion of my research and submitted it to the IRB, and did lots and lots of schoolwork. I've also been getting used to my new community... let's just say that the honeymoon period is over. I'm having to work a lot harder this year than I did last year. I live with a lot of really strong personalities.

Still planning on camping in Glacier next month! I am PSYCHED.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Like an Indian summer in the middle of winter

Currently reading: Lots of research on effective spelling instruction, The Wednesday Wars, Animal Farm, Esther

So the first week back in school was a little bit overwhelming. Summer classes move so very quickly, and getting a master's degree while teaching keeps you very busy. This summer I'm taking research, and next year I'll be conducting research in my own classroom. Needless to say, this is a huge undertaking and also has far too many parts to worry about. So this summer I'm reviewing the literature and setting up my research methods, and then in the fall I'll conduct the research and write a massively large paper outlining my findings. I'm not too terrible excited about the prospect, but at the same time, it is excitingly grown-up and professional to be conducting a quantitative educational study. I'm going to be focusing on spelling and writing.

My reading class is utterly amazing, and I can already tell that I am going to be a much better teacher next year because of it. I've also been stockpiling resources for teaching religion, so while I am completely exhausted, I also feel like I am getting a lot done towards being a more effective teacher.

Thursday we went to Bluesfest on the waterfront and listened to some wonderful music and had a good time dancing to some not-as-wonderful music. Then this weekend I went up to Olympia to celebrate the fourth with some friends. It was a nice relaxing two days when I didn't bring any work with me. I just sat back and enjoyed the time away from school. My friend Luke has a house out on a lake, and we took a rowboat out into the middle of the lake and watched all the neighbors setting off fireworks. It was really a lot of fun.

And then today it was back into the grind of schoolwork. I'm still waiting on a paycheck, so funds are tight and my friend Erin had to lend me money to print out an article I needed. I felt like a loser when that happened. Once my life calms down a little bit I'll do my best to be in better touch with people...I'm a little overwhelmed right now.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Of Time and Of Seasons

Not only is the title of this post the title of one of my favorite books, it is also something that has been weighing rather heavily on my mind in recent days. I'm working on a Bible study via email and a book with Sara, and it focuses on the story of Esther. The timing in that story is crazy, and it led me to think about time in my own life. If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would move across the country, be happily single, live with strangers, teach seventh grade, run a half marathon or so many other things that are going on in my life, I would have laughed at you. But here I am, and at this time, that is my story. It's also been jarring to see how places where the timing in my life matched up with my friends have changed. My time and others' had ceased to line up so well, and I find myself becoming closer with people who are at a similar time in their life. I also have been thinking of the idea of an "acceptable time" and realizing that God and I seem to have very different ideas about what this acceptable time is. I am, however, beginning to be ok with going with the flow and following God's lead on these types of things.

In other news, I successfully completed a half-marathon on Saturday, and right within my goal time of 2 and a half hours. I feel an enormous sense of accomplishment about this. Last year at this time I couldn't even run one mile without feeling winded, and this year I ran 13.1 miles, all while raising money and awareness of a cause I feel very strongly about. Life is very good.

My new roommates are utterly amazing, and I am looking forward to this summer. It's going to be amazing.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Home Sweet Home

It's been an interesting thing, being home for the first time in a while. My roommate Kristin came with me to NJ, and we did all sorts of fun things, but it has been a lot of driving and not a lot of seeing people. We visited Philly and DC and went down the shore, so I think it is safe to say that she had a very full New Jersey experience. There was a lot of eating, particularly fattening and bad for you treats like taylor ham and Dunkin' Donuts. Those of you who know me well will not be surprised at all to find out that there was also a significant amount of Wawa involved in the trip. I think I may have an unparallelled passion for Wawa.

Another thing that I find intriguing about the only being home for a week at a time every six months is the way that some things change and others seem the same. Some of the friends I've seen it's been like I never left. Conversation is natural, and we really enjoy catching up and reminiscing. Last night I hung out with some of the girls I went to high school with, and we had a complete blast. I haven't talked to these girls in years, and yet we were laughing and carrying on like it didn't matter. The whole night was just a lot of fun.

I'm having a little trouble with some of the changes in my absence, and realizing how hard it is to be mature when you don't agree with people who you thought you knew really well. I know this is something I have to work on; people are certainly going to grow and change while I'm growing and changing across the country, but I guess I just wasn't prepared for how big some of those changes would be. I didn't think this would ever happen, but I'm really excited to go back to the West Coast. I know my friends there really well, and they know the me I've become out there. I have a place there. I'm excited for summer classes and for the next year at school. I'm thrilled to live with new roommates and to stay in touch with the old ones. I guess this is a good thing. It only took a year, but I've definitely enjoyed the adjustment.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

I'm a Survivor

Well, I officially made it through my first entire year as a seventh grade teacher. And I'm mostly in one piece, I promise. To be honest, the horror stories I heard about the first year of teaching made this year seem not so bad. Yes, I did have some thoroughly obnoxious and malicious students who completely lost it towards the end of the year, but in general my first class was an amazingly kind and talented group of kids. I am excited for them to be the big kids in school next year because I am positive that they will be an amazing set of leaders and examples.

So much is going on right now that it's hard to know what to write. On Tuesday I will drive out of Yakima with all my stuff packed and never live in my current house again. Moving a kitchen is no fun at all. We are leaving all of our stuff in the garage and families from the school will come and help us move while we are studying in Portland this summer. Then we'll come up to visit sometime in July and move all our furniture into the new house. I'm really glad for the new house, because I feel like it gives us all a fresh start. I'll have three brand new amazing roommates and a wonderful new house and a new class of students next year.

All that being said, it is a long, stressful weekend, and tomorrow promises to be another long stressful day as we finish packing up the house and our classrooms. And then, early early on Wednesday morning, I will be on the East Coast!!!!!!!

And, I got my racing singlet for the half marathon at the end of the month. I am really excited for this thing, but also a little nervous. If can support me, please try. Thanks!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Some highlights of the year

Here are some of the more quotable moments of the last year:

Andrew (to me): Which way do you run?
Josh: Forward mostly.

Me: We're making cards for Fr. Pope.
Kids: Why?
Me: He lost his brother.
Josh: Did they find him yet?

Me: Christian, how's the math coming?
Christian: Good. I'm on number....
Me: Yes?
Christian: (long pause, looks at hands) I was trying to make a 12, but then I realized I only have 10 fingers.

Drew: This room isn't big enough for my talent.

I was walking around my religion class, looking at the art projects, when I asked before thinking, "Why is everyone making babies?"

I'm sure there are more...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's Been A While Part II

Currently Reading: Funerals are Fatal, Theology of the Body for Beginners

This has been a rough rough week, with a few shining moments. Yesterday I was hit in the face twice with projectiles that I had outlawed in my classroom. The second one hit my nose hard enough that I was tearing up and had a difficult time speaking for a bit. Needless to say, I was more than a tiny bit peeved about the situation. Then, two of my more obnoxious students told me they thought what I taught was stupid and useless, and that they saw no need for me at the school. At this point I gave up. We are strictly doing language in their class right now, because that's what they claim they want to learn, none of the fun enrichment stuff I had planned for the rest of the year. It's discouraging to spend the time thinking up fun interesting things to do and then have kids be full of attitude about it.

So today two of my sweet students came in with little ways of saying that they still care. One brought me a card where she told me that I was a wonderful teacher and gave me a coffee giftcard. A boy from the other homeroom brought me muffins. As I was feeling that there still was some merit in teaching seventh grade, I returned from the school mass to discover that some students had left garbage all over my chair. I'm feeling very defeated.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Joyful Joyful

Currently reading: Theology of the Body for Beginners, Theology of the Body for Teens, N or M?

Our advisor for Portland is in town this week for observations and to collect our work from this semester, so it's a bit of a busy week. I've had a lot of students absent this week for various reasons, which makes it harder for us to move forward as a class. The drama teacher asked me to be a character in the seventh grade drama production, so today during my prep period I'll be heading over to practice with them. They don't know that I'm coming and we both think it will be funny to see their reactions. For some reason, the drama teacher has decided that I can and should act, even though she has clearly never seen me do so. I think this could be very interesting.

The kids are still being difficult, and I have had to make some changes in discipline as a result. I don't like being the teacher who yells, so I've hated the last two weeks.

On two much brighter notes: I got a very quiet, very unofficial "ok" for the half marathon, so I am definitely going to be running it. Of course, this means that I have to get my butt in gear and step up the training, but it's still fantastic news. I'm not supposed to tell anyone about it right now, which I don't really understand, but since none of you are in my program, I don't think it can matter that much. So if you know anyone who can afford to sponsor me a few $, please point them in the direction of my donation page.

2nd bright note is that my brother John is getting married!

And on that note, I am off to school.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's been a while

Currently Reading: Theology of the Body for Teens, Theology of the Body for Beginners. Crossing the Threshold of Hope

The last two weeks have been more or less insane. We've finished our high stakes testing and the kids are done being good in school. I have never had such a problem with disrespectful speech in my classroom as I have this week. Someone made a "your mom" joke, someone else told me that they didn't like me and couldn't wait to be done with seventh grade. This made me feel pretty wonderful about teaching.

On a more cheerful note, I was asked to help at this afternoon's track meet, and it was loads of fun. I spent the first hour and a bit raking gravel at the long jump pit, until they got someone more qualified to replace me: a seventh grade boy. Unfortunately, he displayed significantly more skill at sand raking than I did. My students did marvelously. One of my girls ran a six minute mile, and both my boys ran an incredibly fast 100m dash. My girls won the 800m medley by a landslide. I have a bit of a sunburn, but it was totally worth it, and the kids were so excited to see me there. They explained all the events and came over to chat with me at the pit where I was raking, and the gym teacher was there, so once I was replaced I watched a few of the races with him.

Also, I got to go to Autumn's wedding in Minnesota last weekend. It was amazing to see her and Jeremy and be there with them for their special day. Aut was beautiful and the whole thing was a lot of fun. It was a lot of traveling for one weekend, and I'm still waking up ridiculously early because of time zone issues, but I am so glad I went. I was the only one of our friends from high school who got there. I'm looking forward to seeing some pictures.

I miss home a lot since spring break. I'm having a slightly difficult time here, but excited to be back in a few months/

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Holy Holy Holy

Holy week is a crazy time in a Catholic school. Friday my students led the school in Good Friday stations and veneration of the cross, so it was a little stressful. Thursday the entire school of 326 students was involved in a bagged lunch service project where we made close to 700 bagged lunches for the homeless and working poor of Yakima. It was kind of cool, because this was an idea that my students had in the fall and did on a smaller scale back then, and now the whole school did it. We even made the local news! The next day my class brought some of the lunches over to the mission, where the other seventh grade had gone for a service project earlier. (You may recall that was the trip where we had no coats and it was raining and there was a student on crutches...this trip was much much smoother.)

I spent Easter with Kristin and her family in the Portland area, and it was a weekend full of crazy family happenings. While I definitely missed being in New Jersey for the week, spending it with Kristin's family was the next best thing. The Easter bunny didn't forget me either, although his handwriting looks a lot like Kristin's mom's. A funny moment at Easter was a Portland experience. The priest made the following three announcements at the end of the mass: 1. he had found an interesting article about Obama that he had printed out to share with the parish. Copies were on blue sheets in the back. 2. Parishioners training for the 40 mile hike led by the priest were doing a 7 mile training hike next week. 3. For the parish's celebration of Earth Day, everyone needed to find a way to get to church without driving. He wanted a full church with an empty parking lot. On green slips in the back he had information about biking and walking routes, as well as busing information.

I'm pretty sure those are announcements I would only hear in a church in the Northwest.

Last funny story here, then I'll sign off. So this afternoon, after Kristin and I roll back into Yakima, we decide to go for a run. I haven't been running because of the ankle, but this is about when Meg said it would be ok to start again, so I agreed to the running idea. About 2 1/2 miles in, I did need to walk for a bit, so at mile 3 we slowed to a walk. We had about a mile to go. As we we turn the corner into the last 3/4 mile, it starts to hail. And not wimpy, going away soon kind of hail. This was big and freezing and painful. We ran to a nearby bank to wait it out. After about ten minutes, we decide it's lightened up enough to try running again. By the time we got to the house, we were freezing, tired, miserable and in pain. But we made it, and the ankle isn't too bad. Time to get marathon ready!

If you have a minute today, make sure to wish Nicholas a happy birthday!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Soon and Very Soon

Soon and very soon, I am going to New Jersey! Today is the last day of the third quarter, and also the last full teaching day before spring break. On Sunday, at the crack of dawn, I will be on a plane flying directly from Seattle to NJ! Tomorrow is a half day of school because we are having the 33 annual Jog-A-Thon. All the kids and teachers wear sweats and their JAT t-shirts and we walked the whole school a few blocks downtown and they run laps for an hour. They've all been pledged, and it seems crazy to me, but the school raises over 30,000 dollars with this event each year.

My marathon training had to be put on hold due to the unfortunate fact that over a week ago I fell down some stairs at school and my ankle is still swollen and painful. I'm on the verge of going to see a doctor about it, because it doesn't seem like it should still be a problem. I still haven't heard from the powers that be whether or not I'll be able to run the half, but I've decided that I'm going to press forward with training and fundraising nevertheless. So if you are a friend who is employed currently, you will most likely be receiving an email from me in the next few days. If you know any businesses that would pledge me, please let me know so that I can send them a begging letter.

Yesterday was the longest day of school ever. I left the house at 7:15 am and didn't get home until 9:30 pm. Our supervisors are up from Portland, so it's kind of a crazy week of meetings and observations. This afternoon I am going to look at the house we might move to next year.

Ruthann's visit was awesome. She got to see all the sights, sit in on a Religion class or two, and met all the most important people in Yakima. We went to sandwich Sunday and helped to make over 1000 sandwiches for the homeless of Yakima. All in all, it was a very successful weekend, planned entirely on the spur of the moment, as all the best weekends are.

I can't wait to be back in NJ!

Friday, March 20, 2009

An odd week at the casa de PACE

So getting back into the daily grind of teaching was a lot of fun after a weekend of nearly no sleep. On Tuesday my sevenths graders and I spent all of Language Arts learning how to Irish dance, which was really amusing. If you ever have the opportunity, although I don't know why you would, to see 33 seventh graders learning how to dance, you should take it. It could be a life-changing event for you. In Literature we read and analyzed St. Patrick's Breastplate, and in Religion we did a little more of that. It was a very St. Patrick's Day kind of celebration around here. I did find it odd though, that on the West Coast, there's very little actual Irish about St. Paddy's Day. It's all leprechauns and luck, and nothing about the culture, music, food, dance or history. Even in the Catholic community it's like that. I was the only teacher who didn't make "leprechaun traps" with my students. I'm not sure how I felt about it.

Yesterday was St. Joseph's Day, and as I teach in a school named for him, I thought it was odd that we didn't have some big sort of celebration for him. This was always a big deal holiday at home. So yesterday I brought zeppoli, traditional Italian doughnuts, into school to celebrate with my classes. It was a big hit so today I have to bring in the recipe for everyone.

Ruthann's coming to visit this weekend, which is the most exciting news I've had in a long time!

Please, if you are able, don't forget to check out my fundraising page for the half-marathon. This is really important to me and my family!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seven Drunken Nights

It has been a doozy of a week, and this weekend is really really busy, which is exciting, but at the same time slightly overwhelming. Last night we went to a friends house for a pre-St. Paddy's Day celebration with a lot of former PACErs, and a good time was had by all. Everyone had to have a talent to perform, and the PACE house represented in style with some traditional Irish step dancing. I knew those 8 years of competitive dancing would come in handy someday. We finished off the talent section with a rousing rendition of the timeless classic "Seven Drunken Nights" which immediately made me think of Crystal E. Moran, my favorite Irish ex-roommate. Then we ended the evening with "Danny Boy" which I had to lead because I was the only one who knew the tune well enough.

Today we had a 6k fun run at Steve's school, and I ran 3.5 of the 4 miles, which made me immensely proud of myself. I've just been notified of a possible conflict with the half-marathon, so I'm trying to work that out and not be annoyed with PACE right now, especially because my 100 dollar registration is non-refundable. So all my praying friends out there, please keep this in your prayers, as I am really upset about the possibility of not doing this race.

Tonight is a gala at LaSalle, and I have cute black dress to wear and lots of friends who will be there. I'm really excited about the whole thing. I really like all the former PACErs who are in town right now. They are a lot of fun to hang out with, and they are all incredible story tellers. Last night most of them told a story as their talent and I laughed so hard that I cried.

Will update as I know more about the race situation. If you want to donate, here's the link:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Back from the weekend away

I am officially signed up for a half marathon in Seattle on June 27th. I may or may not have lost my mind a little. But, shameless plug, if you want to support me and the race for a cure for NF, here's my fundraising page:

I am running in honor of Genna and Rosie, my lovely talented nieces, who are superheroes in the battle against NF.

Aside from the obvious insanity of signing up for a race...people who know me know that I am not nor have I ever been, even remotely an athlete. I had a lovely time this weekend escaping from Yakima. Kristin and I stayed at a friend's apartment in the city and had a good time wandering around, doing a little shopping and braving the snowy and freezing elements. Steve's team won third in the state championships, which was amazing, especially because half the team had the flu and could barely stand without throwing up. It was fun to go to the game and then to take a tour of Steve's college days with him.

The next couple of weeks will be crazy, what with visits from the Dean of the School of Education at UP, our program director and instructional coach. I will be observed many times in the next 2 to 3 weeks, and I can't say that I'm really looking forward to it. It's a little intimidating. Also, this weekend is all the St. Patrick's Day festivities, including a 6K run, a party and a gala for Steve's school. I'm excited, but I also have to have enough "green" to wear for all these things. I have also promised my students that I will teach them to dance on St. Patrick's day, so I have to figure that out.

Only three more weeks!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Good Day for a Parade

So every March 4th, my dad makes the same jokes about having a parade to "march forth" and nobody gets what he is saying. I made some comment about it to my students the other day and they looked at me like I had grown two heads. Then, after much explaining, they "got" it, and I think it only convinced them even more of what a major dork I am.

But things are sailing along in the wonderful world of St. Joe's. We've started fundraising again, this time via a Jog-a-thon. I'm trying desperately to get my homeroom to step up their pledge getting game because I really want us to win something, especially this week's pizza party. Somehow I think the odds of this are slim, because we're currently in second-to-last place. I'm contemplating offering free homework passes to top fundraisers.

Things are looking up on the feeling like I belong in Yakima front. I've joined a bible study at church, found a spiritual director, been going to a lot of sporting events, and meeting new people. I am actually enjoying my time here these days. On Friday we are heading up to Spokane because Steve's basketball team made it to state! I'm excited to see a new city and the legendary Gonzaga University.

I can't wait to see you all at the end of the month!

Friday, February 27, 2009

A trip to the mission

As promised, here is the incredible story of the trip to the mission. So my enterprising and caring sevenths graders organized a book drive and made bookmarks with the third graders to put in each of the books. After weeks of calling back and forth with the mission, it was finally time to board the bus and bring the books over. The students came to school in their service shirts, which the school designed in recognition of the Catholic call to service. The students have to earn these shirts by completing a service project, and are supposed to wear them on all service outings. It will be important to note that these are short sleeved t-shirts.

As we are walking out the door one students asked me if they should bring their coats, I uttered the famous last words..."No, we'll only be on the bus for a minute." So off we go, carrying the books and toys and bookmarks. It was about 38 degrees and raining.

All this time I had assumed that the mission was a homeless outreach, and we had studied homelessness in our service unit, so I was proud of myself for prepping the kids so well. So we get there, and the woman giving us the tour starts by saying that the first rule of the mission is that clients can not be high or drunk when they come. The second is that they are not allowed to make meth in the rooms at the mission. At this point, my less mature students cannot handle this type of information and giggles are beginning to spread through the group. As the tour progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that while the mission is indeed for the homeless, it is mainly for those with addictions. I definitely had not prepared the kids for that.

Then, our tour guide announces about 5 minutes in that the rest of the tour will be taking place outside. The kids shoot me anguished looks and marched outside behind her. For the next 35 minutes we stood in the rain and the cold in nothing but t-shirts. We were also ten minutes late getting back to school and the lady gave them each a soda, which is normally not allowed at school. So by the time we got back, we were drenched, drinking soda, and I had a whole lot of questions to answer from the students and the parents. It was one of those things I just had to laugh off.

All in a day's work, I suppose.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When it rains, it pours

Yesterday was possibly one of the worst days that I've had since I started teaching. The kids were antsy, I had to give a detention, and in the middle of religion class I intercepted a note that began with "I hate Ms. Appert," and went on to describe how terrible I was. Now, I know that I shouldn't really care what twelve-year-olds think of me, but I think every teacher wants their students to like them. Needless to say, the rest of that class period was not very much fun. I was trying really hard not to get upset, which of course only made me more upset.

Then after school I had angry parents in my room telling me that it's my fault that homework never gets turned in and that their kids are flunking. So for another half hour I had to hear about how terrible I was. Then I had forgotten a staff meeting and was late and it was not very good. By the time I got to my car, I was crying. Luckily I have wonderful roommates and Kristin helped Steve get his car so that I could just go home and go for a walk and destress a little.

The one good thing about having a terrible day like that is that you realize how much people care. Steve went out and got stuff for Mardi Gras, and we ate dinner together, and I talked to my friend Bryce, which was good. I also had beautiful roses to make me feel better too.

Sometime soon I'll have to write about our trip to the was the stuff comedies are made of.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Nothing says awkward like a middle school dance

This is true. Last night Kristin and I chaperoned the seventh and eighth grade dance at school. We were the only adults present at what was obviously a high budget production. The seventh graders brought soda and the eighth graders brought chips. The decorations were a poster on green paper that said "Just Dance" and some streamers and two red lights. The "DJ" was a rotation of three i-pods and a set of speakers. I think the kids thought that having Kristin and me chaperon would be better than the older teachers, but in some ways I think they read us a little wrong. Kristin and I actually listen to music and have been out dancing, so we can tell from the first few bars of a song if it's the one with "Back you a@# up, motherf$#@%$" in the refrain. They were not pleased when we told them to change the songs. Also, we were middle schoolers not too terribly long ago, so we knew the sneaky things they were up to. I may have interrupted a first kiss. I didn't feel too bad about that.

Tonight Kristin and I are going to yet another crab feed, this time as guests, which is much better. We'll be sitting with our principal and the school board, which should be interesting. Also, this afternoon two of my students are playing a doubles tennis match against their respective siblings, so I'll be heading over to the tennis club to watch. Tomorrow is Sandwich Sunday at church, so after then nine o'clock mass we'll stay and make sandwiches for the homeless of Yakima.

That's about all the interesting stuff going on this weekend. Only one month until I'm in New Jersey!!!!!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Tiptoeing through the tulips

My surprise was and orange and yellow and purple tulips.

They are my favorite.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Roses are Red

As much as some of the things we do at school drive me crazy, I am really happy at St. Joe's. Yesterday we packed the fourth through eighth graders into cars and buses and went to Skateland, a rollerskating rink near the school. Seriously, roller skating. Not roller blading. It was really phenomenal. I did my best to skate with the kids, but it was only me and one of the other teachers and the secretary that even attempted to join the kids. It was really funny to watch, especially the awkward couples skate. One of my boys asked me to couples skate with him, which obviously I did not do. I did skate around the rink a couple of times with him and the others though. I also had a dance party with my one student who was on crutches and couldn't partake in the merriment. Then, unfortunately, we had to go back to school and try to teach hyped up, tired out middle schoolers in the afternoon.

Did you know that teachers get the most valentines of any profession? Obviously, I teach seventh graders, so I didn't get quite the grand haul that my first grade teacher roommate did, but it was really cute some of the things the kids did for me. I have a really chintzy heart bracelet and a mug and some hand drawn cards which are my favorite. And while I have no plans for tomorrow, I've been told there is some sort of surprise coming my way, which is exciting.

Kristin and Kristin are out of town again this weekend, so it's looking like quality time for me and Steve again. We don't have school on Monday, which is nice, so I'll probably just be catching up on some grading and sleeping and do some work in my classroom this weekend. I also have some work sample stuff to do, and I'm surprisingly ahead of the game on that one.

I'm still enjoying Yakima...but I can't wait for spring break!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Girls just wanna have fun

Currently reading: The Giver with my seventh graders

So this last week in Yakima has probably been the most fun I've had since I moved here. The weekend was really weird, from meeting new people to Steve's car breaking (it moves forward in reverse) to mine getting egged, to Kristin H. having to go to the hospital with a weird allergic reaction. But the rest of the week has been pretty social for us. We spent superbowl Sunday with some friends and then after the game Kristin P and I went out with some of the people we met on Friday night. Tuesday I went and got dinner with one of said new friends, and last night got drinks with other teachers and then ice cream. It's weird to go from having no one to hang out with to having too many people to talk to. I like it a lot, but I've been more tired at school this week than ever before.

That being said, we've gotten a lot accomplished in school this week. We're moving right along with The Giver , so that's good. The kids are really restless though, and it doesn't help when I'm really tired all the time. I have to figure out a balance between being young and having fun and also being a teacher.

Tonight we have a school fundraiser and we are volunteering, so it will probably be another late night. We have to wear these really doofy crab shirts. Needless to say, I am not a fan at all. I don't do cutesy gimmick stuff very well. But hopefully we'll have a good time.

It's been really warm the last few days, and today we saw the sun! Kristin, Kristin and I went for a really long walk, which was definitely a good plan. Now its off to get ready and go out!

Only 6 weeks until spring break and New Jersey!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Catholic Schools Week

Later today: My car was egged last night. Stupid punk Yakimites. But the really sweet part of the story is that Steve asked to borrow it (his car is broken) and went and got it cleaned for me.

Currently reading The Giver with my seventh graders.

We had a crazy week of school this week, due to Catholic Schools Week. There are three Catholic schools in the valley, and each of us had tons of things to do during the week, as there was a theme for each day. On Friday all of the schools got together for a mass, and it was fun to see everyone all together. It was also fun because Steve was there too, and LV Elizabeth, who is one of the young volunteers in Yakima. And then we had a staff and teachers luncheon, which was a good time because we all got to mingle together.

Kelsey, the girl whose place I took in the community, is up visiting this weekend, and she is a lot of fun. We went out last night and ran into a ton of parents and coworkers, and had a grand old time. One of my student's parents picked up our whole tab! This is one of the wonderful things about such a small town. I didn't pay for anything that I ate or drank last night. But we met some other young people through said coworkers, and they actually seemed like people we might see again, which is good. So things are looking up on the friends front. :)

Off to run some errands...I want to hit up the library and some stores this afternoon. (I have a lot of Christmas gift cards.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

You've Got a Friend in Me

I think some people were a little bit thrown off by my last facebook status which claimed I was a failure at making friends. There are some reasons for this is Yakima though, reasons I am about to explain. First of all, my roommates are my friends. They are amazing and wonderful and since I work with two out of the three of them, I see them ALL the time. I would like to invest in friends to just hang out with on a Friday night or something like that. The only people I know in Yakima besides my roommates are one married couple who don't like to go out, 2 Catholic volunteers who work with Steve and don't like to leave their house, and 7 other Catholic volunteers who move in a pack of on-the-prowl for a date mode. Needless to say, it is uncomfortable to go out as part of a crowd of 8 or more girls, 7 of whom are desperately seeking attention.

I know that I am a fun person to be a friend with. I have amazing friends in New Jersey. I'm just getting really lonely out here. I met a guy a few weeks ago who seemed cool and alarmingly well educated for Yakima, but he's not really interested in the idea of friendship per say. So that was a bust.

It's to the point where Kristin and Kristin went to Seattle for the weekend and Steve has basketball, so I spent last night by myself and will spend probably all of today by myself. I have tickets to a concert tonight, but no one to go with because Steve has a dance to chaperon. So I guess I'll have to go do that by myself tonight as well.

It gets more than a little lonely here in the Palm Springs of Washington.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I am becoming an expert at things to do when avoiding actual work. I would like to blame it on the fact that I have a terrible cold and feel like garbage, but to be completely honest, it is a talent I have developed and perfected as a teacher. This morning I deposited my paycheck and went to Fred Meyer to invest in cold supplies and toothpaste. That's been about the only useful thing I've done so far. Yesterday I came home from school and spent an hour and a half cooking a vegetable and chicken soup so I wouldn't have to grade papers. At least I can enjoy said soup while I sit on the couch watching You've Got Mail and pretending to work on coursework for UP.

Yesterday I got together with Sr. Alice, a Sister of Providence who works at the parish. It was really great to sit and talk to someone about spirituality for the first time in months. She gave me a really interesting book of poetry to read which I'm excited for, and we have plans to get together in two weeks. It was slightly awkward, but I think the first time you get together with anyone is like that.

So I'm going to attempt to get things done for this week. We have grades due, and I also have to start teaching my work sample materials in the next. Now if only I could breathe properly...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Oh, Yakima

So last weekend was a lot of fun, but I'm still tired from it. :) Kristin and I decided to go on a date because our other two roommates were out of town for the day on Saturday. So we got dressed up and went out dancing at a local sports bar. It was a pretty ghetto was "ladies night" so we didn't have to pay to get in. It reminded me of frat parties where they let girls in but not boys. But we had a good time, and our friend Elizabeth came too, and we danced the night away.

This week at school has been going better than last week, but it's still kind of difficult to manage the kids. I don't like doling out punishments, but I have a bad feeling that I'll be giving some detentions by the end of the week. yuck. At least on Friday we have a half day and we have Monday off entirely, so I'll be working on getting my grades put together by the end of the week. double yuck.

Tonight I think Kristin and I are going on another date. Normally we all go to trivia on Wednesdays, but Steve has a game and kristin has to work on a paper, so it will just be me and Kristin H. this week. I hope we win.

I'm trying not to think about how much I wish I were in NJ.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Back in the Daily Grind

Currently almost finished with Seeds of Hope.

This first week back at school has been difficult from a management perspective, but actually surprisingly productive educationally speaking. It's almost like I have to reteach the students to respect me and listen to me. They're really good kids, but they're also seventh graders, which means they know what's best all the time.

I'm trying to start preparing them for the huge standardized test that they have in April, but I hate the idea of preparing them for something like that. I'd rather assess in different ways, but the State of Washington does not agree with me there, and unfortunately, they make the rules.

Life in the house is great. I think we all needed a break from one another for a little bit, but now that we're back, we're having a great time. We went to trivia last night and signed up to lead it in May. Tonight we're going to find somewhere to watch the national title game, hopefully with some friends from Steve's school.

Nothing too exciting, but after the travel drama, that's actually really nice.