Thursday, 31 March 2011

Why Second Grade Totally OWNS Kindergarten, OR, My Re-Entrance Into Classroom Teaching

 This week was my first time to actually go to work since Matt and I lost our jobs in December.  Can you believe it took almost four months?  I can't.  I refuse.

Unfortunately, I "chose" the worst possible time to make my re-entrance into the world of academia.  The state is in a gaping black hole of debt and as a result, school districts (as well as public and civil services) are facing massive budget cuts.  Massive budget cuts = layoffs and no new hires.  Happy job hunting to me, right?

Thankfully private schools do not operate on government money and (at least one of them) still hire substitutes this late into the school year.  So on Monday morning, I waltzed into a kindergarten classroom ready to take over the world!  Actually, it was more like I panicked all weekend long and when the little childrens walked into the classroom at 7:45 AM Monday morning, I just prayed things would go smoothly because I had no clue how to teach kindergarten.  I felt silly for being terrified by six year olds, but hey, it was uncharted territory (read: NOT middle school).

It went well, and I went back on Tuesday to sub for that class again.  They are cute and sweet, but goodness!  They tattle and cry and tattle and whine and tattle.  Most of them do not have a shred of independence...and did I mention they tattle?  So kinder = cute and sweet, but I'm not cut out to teach them long term (again, read: middle school).

Yesterday I wasn't planning on going in to sub at all.  As far as I knew, I wasn't needed.  So I spent the morning relaxing and taking my time - that is, until I got a call at 8:15 saying that a scheduled sub ended up not coming in after all, and could I be there asap?  I was there within an hour and subbed for a second grade class, and I have to say - MUCH easier than kinder.  It's absolutely crazy how much of a difference those two years make.  Like, they can tie their own shoes.  They tattle less.  And good gracious, they can do work independently!  Wednesday.was.awesome.

I still don't think I'm cut out to teach the younger grades long term - I really thrive in a 5th or 6th grade classroom.  But I'm enjoying trying new things and expanding my horizons.  Plus, I usually have funny stories at the end of the day.

Friday, 25 March 2011

There's No Place Like Home

I wasn't planning on writing about this today - I had something else in mind.  However, I'm really struggling.  I'm struggling because for over half of our marriage, Matt and I have lived with my parents.  I never thought it would take so long for us to find jobs and move on.  A month or two, sure.  But this long?  No.

Each time I walk through my parents' garage, my heart gets a little heavier.  I see all of our belongings in bins, boxes, and trash bags collecting dust.

When will we get to sleep on our bed again?  And our curtains - when will I get to wake up to the morning sun streaming through those curtains again?  I loved the way they turned the sunlight a rosy pink-orange color as it illuminated our room.

I love the comforter and the pillows.  They remind me of springtime in the European countryside.  Unfortunately, right now they sit inside a trash bag buried in the garage.  And our bed - I love the frame.  Plus, it doesn't squeak every time you breathe.  The one we sleep in right now does.

When will we get to see this guy again?

It's a beast to dust, but I miss it.

And then there's our kitchen things.  I miss those.  I miss having nice nonstick cookware and stacking cooling racks.  I even miss my towels.

I loved this kitchen, too.  So beautifully new.

I miss our little house.  I was so excited to take it and make it ours.  I loved decorating it and arranging it so that it fit us perfectly.  How long had I looked forward to taking a blank canvas home and splashing touches of Matt and Lauren all over it?  I even loved cleaning it because it was OURS.  And I don't know when we'll have our own place again.

I know we could have nowhere to stay and we could have to pay lots of money to keep our things safely stored.  I know that our problems could be so much worse.  Really.  But today I'm missing our first home, and we won't ever have a first home again.  And our "first home" experience was marred by it being traumatically ripped away from us.

Here's hoping we find another home soon.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A Colourful Mistake

Anyone recognize this?:

Yep, that's my old header.  But it sure looks a heck of a lot like the one that is currently residing at the top of my blog.  Well, take a close look at it.  If you need a hint, try reading the first line of text.

Now that you've figured it out, will somebody PLEASE tell me HOW THE HECK "a clourful melody" sat undetected up there for several weeks?!?!?!  I mean, I can't believe I didn't catch it because grammatical errors usually stick out like a sore thumb to me.  But really?  None of you noticed either?  Or did you...and you've just been laughing at me all this time?

Honestly though, when I caught it last night I literally burst out laughing because really?  How ridiculous is that?

Monday, 21 March 2011


I love Spring.  If I could make Texas Springtime extend all the way up through Texas Fall, I so would.  I would tell the suffocatingly hot Texas Summers to take a hike and get lost along the way so Springtime could stay.

Bradford Pear blossoms in the backyard
I love all the colors.  The smells.  The sunshine.  The breeze.  The butterflies.  The birds singing.

You know, all the things that DIE when the scorching summer temperatures shoot through the roof.  (Except sunshine.  That doesn't die.  It gets stronger.)

My favorite smell only sticks around for a week or two.  And that is the scent of the Texas Mountain Laurel blossoms.  They fill the air with a really sweet smell, almost like grape kool-aid.  They just explode from the trees in bunches and smell SO GOOD!  But the blooms turn white and fall off within two weeks.  The smell makes me think of Easter and is the epitome of spring.  It makes me incredibly happy.

Texas Mountain Laurel

Another great thing about Spring time is that it isn't too hot to enjoy outdoor activities and events.  Matt and I love being outside, but in the summer it just isn't as fun - you're practically slimy from sweat and lethargic from intense heat.  So we've been taking advantage of the pleasant Spring temperatures to spend our weekends outside.  Last weekend we discovered Second Saturday, and this past weekend we helped my parents do some gardening and went to Six Flags!

Probably one of the best things about no longer working the job I had previously is the amount of time I get to spend with my husband.  I love getting to spend weekends with him.

Ahhh Spring.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Second Saturday

This past weekend, Matt and I took full advantage of NOT living in the middle of nowhere and the absolutely WONDERFUL weather.  On Saturday we made our way out to Boerne for Second Saturday.  We had never heard of it before, but on Friday evening my mom brought it up and we decided it sounded like fun (plus, it's FREE!!!!).

Basically, you get to ride around in an open-air trolley through Boerne and visit eight different art galleries.  The best part isn't the art (though the art is beautiful and quite fantastic).  The best part is that pretty much every single place serves free hors d'oeuvres and FREE WINE.  Like, all kinds of wine.  8 stops = lots of free wine!  And then there was the cheeses, crackers, cookies, deli meats, fruits, vegetables, truffles, brownie bites - it was all there!  We even got to sample some homemade tamales and listen to live music at one place.  And by the time we were done, we had eaten enough to not even want to think about dinner.

Matt loves my kisses!

I also love Matt's kisses

At our last stop it was getting dark and we spent a while waiting for the trolley.  By this time we had sampled plenty of delicious wines and were having a blast taking tons of ridiculous pictures.

So happy we came - it was a great day!

We really did have a blast at Second Saturday!  There were never more than two other people on the trolley with us (not including the driver and extremely pleasantly friendly guide).  The river sparkled and the breeze was delightful.  Everything was free and tasty.  I even got to talk to an Italian man about ancient and foreign coins for like 10 minutes and even got to hold some!  Eeeeee!  (What?  I haven't told you that I collect coins?  I guess I wanted you to think I was cool.  Ha.)

Monday, 14 March 2011


I finished this book about a month ago, and I absolutely loved it!  I'm not entirely sure how to classify Bittersweet - perhaps non-fiction and a tad bit autobiographical.  I don't normally read non-fiction books because they seldom hold my attention (I swear, I'm like an ADD 5th grader...) and reading more than a few pages is a tedious chore.  But this book was different.  As I read, it was less like reading a book than it was like reading a series of personal letters or journal entries.  This casual and personal approach totally sucked me in and I felt like I was really getting to know the author.

Bittersweet is about life's changes - some we can control and many we have no say in (mostly those...they usually suck more).  She relates her own personal experiences to truth that applies to everyone.  She talks about having faith and being angry with God.  She talks about how life always comes after death, spring always follows winter, and there is always promise and hope, even when that is the least believable thing at the moment.

Each chapter isn't necessarily a continuation of just one story (although as you read and get to know her better, she ties certain events together or brings old events into a new light); it's more like a different snippet of her life with a similar over-arching theme that tidily ties the whole thing together.  I guess that's what makes it seem like reading a collection of letters or journal entries and, in my personal opinion, makes it unique.

Having read this almost immediately after going through some pretty big and devastating life changes myself, I felt a renewed sense of hope and even felt that I had found a friend, a kindred spirit who has gone through something similar but has made it out alive.  She is able to put words to feelings that I am sure most of us have, but are clueless when it comes to verbalizing them.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially for the ladies in their twenties and thirties.  (Not so much the guys.  They'd probably get bored.)  She has another book titled "Cold Tangerines" and I hope to read that one soon!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

True or False? - God Doesn't Do Small

Earlier this week I overheard someone say, "God doesn't do small," and I'm not entirely sure I agree with that statement.  To be fair, I'll give you the basic idea of the conversation:

They were talking about the upcoming Zumbathon for the Casa de Aguila orphanage in Peru (more about this in the near future!), and were just amazed at the already great response from the community.  They were talking about how we may need to expand a bit to accommodate all the people that will (hopefully) be there, and were so excited about the way God is moving to make this happen.

Don't get me wrong - I am super pumped about this, and I agree that God seems to be blowing this way past our initial hopes!  But to say that God doesn't do small..??  Like, at all?  Ever?  Why not?  Isn't that boxing Him in or even limiting Him?

I'm just not sold.  I mean, what about the flowers that bloom every spring?  What about when a new life is created?  I guess you could argue that ultimately those are still big things.  Or that I am dissecting one comment a bit too meticulously.  But hey, what can I say?

But I feel like even if the Zumbathon was only five people, it would still be impactful.  It would still be ministering to orphans in Peru and the five people who showed up.  And who knows how huge of a deal that could be to any one of those people?  And who's to say that it won't have a domino effect?  (Not that I want it to be only five people.  I would much prefer to pack it out!  I'm just sayin', ya know?)

I'd really like to hear your thoughts on this, too.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Rice and Beans 2011

...mostly isn't going to happen for me this year (sadly).

Last year during the month of March, I participated in Rice and Beans month.  It was quite the experience, really.  A lot of people were all "What the heck?!  Are you on some crazy crash diet cuz girl, that's whack!"  (Okay, okay.  Probably nobody said it quite like that....)  Truthfully, it didn't have much to do with losing weight at all.  There are three reasons given by Lahash (the organization that started Rice and Beans month) as to what the purpose behind it is:

  1. Solidarity: To join brothers and sisters around the world with a commonly available dish.
  2. Simplicity: To give up on wasteful and excessive consumption for one month.
  3. Sharing: To give our savings to kids in East Africa that need help with their nutritional needs. 
It was really hard at first to eat nothing but rice and beans all the time.  I mean, I worked at a Christian camp that actually had REALLY GOOD FOOD.  The cook had mad skillz - she could make anything taste good.  And since I hosted groups, I was with them at every single meal.  Sitting with them.  Not eating.  I watched them chow down on delicious, cheesy, buttery, and sugary things (at least, those were the foods I focused on most) and the smells were pure temptation in the form of...well, whatever smell consists of (flavored air?).  When they were done eating and off to their next activity, I would run and reheat my rice and beans.  The longer I did it, though, the easier it got.  I actually really looked forward to meal times because OMG I FREAKING LOVE RICE AND BEANS NOW!!!  (But really.  Even now, a year later, I eat rice and beans way more than I used to.  Sometimes Matt and I just make rice with onions, garlic and curry for a meal.  And it's SO GOOD.)

I learned a lot that month, and I would totally do it again without hesitation.  So I am sad that I am unable to participate in it this year.  As I've mentioned before, I do the cooking for the family (sans weekends...sometimes) and I highly doubt that my parents would be on board for an entire month of nothing but rice and beans.  I'm not even sure if Matt would be game, either.

So to those of you doing Rice and Beans month, hooray!  It starts off hard, but gets much easier...and it's totally worth it!  I am with you in spirit, and I am planning on making a lot of rice and beans to supplement our meals this month.  For example, I made this Authentic Louisiana Red Beans and Rice on Sunday.  So, so tasty.

Monday, 7 March 2011

One Year Ago Today...

March 7, 2010

It was a nasty, gray, drizzly and cold Sunday.  As far as I knew, there was nothing special about it.

Until Matt made my dreams come true by getting down on one knee and asking me to be his wife!

And here we are one year later, happily married (I can't believe it's been a year since he proposed)!

I am so thankful that he asked me to marry him, and so glad I said yes :)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

In Which I Make a Bullet List Because it's Been a While and I'm Kinda Fried

I haven't really posted this week because this week has been one of those energy and soul sucking weeks.  I don't think I've fully recovered, and so I'm not even really sure what this post will look like.  I just feel like writing.

So here are a few things that happened this past week (since I didn't write about them at all):
-I got to observe a 6th grade math class (the very one I used to teach in), and it made me miss it even more.
-I went to the gym with my brother and worked out for 2 hours and then went to the hardest Zumba class I have ever taken.  And I didn't eat much that day.  So...that was fun.
-Matt and I finished our career transition class at church (we made the full 6 weeks!)
-To celebrate, we stopped by Krispy Kreme and got their free donuts.
-I made pork chops in a butter, brown sugar and grape sauce.  It sounds weird, but really, it was good.
-I got one of the worst charlie horses EVAR in my right calf - it's crazy how even with a high pain tolerance, you find yourself writhing in pain during those things.  Don't tell me I need to eat more bananas.  I'm eating plenty.  In fact, it seems the more bananas I eat, the more frequent those horrid muscle cramps are.  Odd.
-I wrote a 6 page letter to a friend.  I really like writing real letters.
-I did p90x with my mom for the first time ever yesterday.  It wasn't that hard when we were doing it (except they didn't move to the beat of the music - who does that?!  Totally threw me off a few times.), but it's hard today.  Because I hurt.
-This is the first Saturday Matt has not had to work in weeks, and to celebrate we went to the farmer's market and walked along the river.  Great morning!

If you're wondering what made me declare this past week to have been an energy and soul-sucking week, I regret to inform you that I'm not going to divulge that information - I hope you don't mind too much.  I think I'll go back to reading Wuthering Heights and eating blueberries instead.
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