Sunday, 28 August 2011

Back to School = Weekend Stay at the Hilton


I can hardly believe the first week of school has come and gone.  It really flew by!  I'm trying to do my best to stay on top of things, but that's easier said than done.  Sometimes I envy the other teachers who have a partner teacher or are on a team of teachers because they have extra heads, materials, and resources when they plan.  Me?  Well, I have some great resources (really, REALLY great resources), but I really have to plan all on my own.  It takes a lot of time!  But that makes me a better teacher, right? (Um, not better as in better than the other teachers, but better as in...improving myself.)

I feel like my classes have gone pretty well for the most part.  The seventh graders seem to like me a lot, and I think the 8th graders are still undecided (a parent of one told me that they are afraid of me).  That's alright, though.  We've got a lot more time together ;)

I'm really looking forward to moving past the beginning of the year things (Nature of Science - it's all review) and getting into the really fun things!  The 8th graders will start off with Physics an the 7th graders will start off with cells.  Hooray!  This means lots of labs.  Hopefully this means they start enjoying class more.  I know I will!

This past weekend has been absolutely wonderful.  We house-sat for my cousin the week before last, and as a thank you, they gave us a certificate to stay at the Hilton downtown for two nights.  I KNOW.  It. Was. Awesome.  A king sized bed with a down comforter and down pillows.  Our own bathroom.  And a river view!  We could stand on our balcony (on the 20th floor) and look down onto the River Walk.  Watching the sunset from that porch was fantastic, and the city lights at night are so colourful and fun!

Now we are back home and trying to prepare for the coming week.  So far I'm caught up on grades and lesson plans for next week.  I think, dare I say?, that I am even looking forward to tomorrow.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

What You've Missed

Well, guys.  A lot has gone on, and I have completely disappeared for a while.  So, here's what has gone on during that time:

We went to Houston for a wedding...but not just any wedding!  It was my first ever college roommate getting married, and we were really excited to go.  She is from Iran and her husband is from Palestine, so we knew it would be an all out party...and it was!  We finally left the hotel just after 2 AM, tired from a lot of dancing and plenty of delicious food.  It was quite the experience and I am so glad we got to be a part of their special evening.

Matt and I waiting for the bride and groom to arrive.

Mitra and I. She was so beautiful! I'm really glad we are still friends after all these years.

Then I got a teaching job and spent the entire month planning, preparing, and panicking.  Sounds about right, doesn't it?  My classroom was a bit chaotic when I first inherited it, but with Matt's help and a lot of hard work we got it looking pretty darn good!

Here are the lab stations to the left (if you are facing the front). There was so much stuff in there!

In this pile we found some pretty interesting things...!

The room also acts as a storage room for the school and church during the summer.

All the lab stools, plus textbooks, trophies, and some of maintenance's things.

All these trophies stayed right there until they were taken to be recycled.

So here is the view from the front left corner of the room after hours and hours of hard work!

And this is the view from the front right corner. A big improvement, I'd say!

We also just celebrated our one year anniversary.  I can't believe it's already been a year, and at the same time I can't believe it's only been a year.  So much has happened, you know?  We've been through a lot this year - we lost our jobs, house, community, and a large portion of our support system all in one day.  We moved in with my parents and waited eight months for God to answer our prayers to provide a job for me.  We got bad news from the doctors and got "investigated" by our insurance company (they thought the condition I was being tested for was a pre-existing condition that I just chose not to tell them about).

We went to the Tower of Americas for dinner. There were lots of pretty fountains.

We also really liked these pink flowers.

But a lot of really great things happened this year - we got to spend more time with my family and my parents are more generous and understanding than we could ever hope or ask.  God provided Matt with a great job and we have had more time together than ever before.  We are able to go to church on a regular basis again, and Matt is involved in the men's ministry at our church.  I also have become a Zumba master.  We got a new-to-us car that we really like, and the issue with our insurance company was resolved.  And, of course, God provided me with the perfect job.

I am so happy to be married to my best friend.  This year was tough and I can't imagine going through it all without him.  I'm so glad I didn't have to.

My parents surprised us with an anniversary cake - the exact kind we had at our wedding!

Tired, but happy. And so ready to eat this cake.

And tomorrow?  The school year begins.  Oh boy!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Oops, I Did It Again

I really hope this doesn't become a habit.  You know.  Neglecting my blog.

But I have good reasons!  Kinda.  No,, they are actually good reasons.  I've been working like a mad woman trying to get things ready for this school year.  I feel like there is still just SO MUCH TO DO and no time to do it.  At all.  Ever.  To infinity and beyond.  There's a snake in my boot.



Which is probably why I wake up at 3 AM and think, "I should do THIS in my classroom!"  Of course, ideas like...make every kid grow a hanging tomato garden in the class for their pet ladybugs or come the first day wearing old lady makeup so they're totally freaked out probably aren't my best.  Good thing I just made them up right now and they aren't really middle of the night revelations.  But really, I do wake up at 3 AM and I do think of things that would just be SO TOTALLY AWESOME for the class.  Then I spend all day trying to remember so totally awesome things because, DUH!  I fall right back asleep and forget it all.

It's amazing how one can be so excited and so freaked out at the same time.  I guess it's not my first time to feel those things all at once, but really, I might not ever get used to it.  I like to be over-prepared, and right now I feel so under-prepared.  I'm determined to get it right and do the best job possible, but it's hard not to think about ways that I could mess up and ruin it all.  But no, I will be positive!  It's a great school with great administration, awesome teachers, and good kids.  And God has provided me with a great support system and a million resources, so I am confident this is where I am supposed to be.  Remind me of those things when I start panicking and breathing into a paper bag in 4.83 seconds, k?

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

On Rivaling Tim Burton and Ted Dekker

Let's talk about dreams, shall we?  For as long as I can remember I have had extremely intense and vivid dreams and nightmares that rival the works of Tim Burton and Ted Dekker.  And unlike most people, I remember them, usually in great detail.  I can still remember dreams I had as a child.  Like the one where a giant put me in a frying pan and was cooking me and flipping me with a spatula.  Or the one where I was in a black world with neon features (black sky, neon grass, get the picture) and I had to rescue Batman.  I dreamt those in grade school.  I can even remember a horrifying nightmare I had when I was really little. (We were camping out at a lake in cabins with my extended family.  I dreamt that terrible creatures emerged from under my bed and slowly pulled me off my bed and under it into the darkness.  As I screamed at my mom for help, she grabbed my brother and ran out of the room, shutting the door and leaving me to the monsters.)

My reoccurring dreams consisted of dark places and back-lit aquariums.  The further back I went into the aquarium or pet sore, the dimmer the lights got and the larger and scarier the fish got, until the only lights came from behind the aquariums and I could see massive silhouettes of terrifying fish all around me.  Every so often, the glass would break, releasing all the shadow fish and water.  I actually still have these dreams from time to time.

I've also had plenty of dreams that turned into reality.  On more than one occasion during the day, I've stopped and said, "Wait.  I dreamed this the other night.  This will happen next."  And it does.

Like I said.  I'm a little different.

Unfortunately, most of my dreams are nightmares or night terrors.  In fact, I don't remember the last time I had a good dream.  I can't explain why, but I get shot a lot.  I've also been stabbed to death and sliced up in my dreams.  But getting shot seems to be the favorite.  I'll spare you the details of my most recent nightmares (unless you just really want to know - but they're a bit much to post on a blog).  I've tried to make sense of my dreams many times to no avail.  Just this past week, Yahoo! posted some articles on dreaming.  Here's what one had to say:

"So exactly what happens in our brain when we dream? Sleep experts admit they’re not sure, but it appears that dreams are where memories meet emotion. On the one hand, your dreams can help you tap into the emotional issues in your waking life. On the other, they’re also a way for your brain to catalog the events of the day. “We know that memories are stored during sleep, and dreaming allows the brain to use certain circuits that improve long-term memory,” says Dr. Kohler. Simply put, you dream in order for a specific part of your mind to kick in and sort through memories, figuring out which ones to keep and which ones to let go.

If dreams are there to help file away memories for the long haul, why do they sometimes seem so surreal—not the literal way life happens to us? “When we’re sleeping, the controls of our conscious mind are turned off,” says Dr. Kohler. So as the brain sorts through our different experiences, trying to cross-reference memories (Is the day this happened the same day that happened?), it puts them together in strange and unusual ways (hence, our weird dreams) until it finds a connection that fits—and stores it in our memory bank."

(You can read the full article here)

I don't really find that very helpful (although it is really interesting and something to think about), and I'm not sure it explains my dreams at all.  It's not like I've actually ever suffered a gunshot wound or any other violent crime.  The only tv show Matt and I watch right now is The Next Food Network Star, and I don't ever watch horror movies.  Maybe I just need to think about it more in depth...??  One thing is fore sure, though - I don't know where I get it from, but I have always had a vivid imagination.

Often people have nightmares or stressful dreams if they are stressed out about something in real life, but it doesn't seem to work that way for me.  I could be extremely happy with my situation and not be stressed out at all and still find myself waking up terrified in the middle of the night.

Some dreams don't have to fall into the nightmare category, but if they don't, they always fall into the "stressful" category.  Take my dream from last night, for example: I was presented with the opportunity to perform a drama piece with Julie Andrews (love her!), but I couldn't get my script out of the envelope.  So when my first line came, I couldn't say anything because I was too busy fumbling about with the papers.  We tried again, and this time I couldn't find the correct scene and all the lines seemed jumbled.  So again, I said nothing, and she just looked at me like I was an idiot.  I was so embarrassed and so upset that I had ruined my opportunity to perform with Julie Andrews.

I'm usually tired during the day because I've woken multiple times in the night after stressful dreams or nightmares.  I guess I felt like blogging about it because it's on my mind often, and it seemed like good timing with the articles and everything.

In a way, I feel like this is more like a rambling post in which I am trying to process things for myself.  Sorry about that!  It's not as well written as I would like, and it's definitely longer than I originally planned.

But what about you?  Do you remember your dreams?  Are they usually good or bad dreams?  Do you know of anyone else that is like me in this?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Provision and Chaos

Well, it's happened.  I've gotten a job, and I've begun to neglect my blog.  And you know what?  Technically my job hasn't even started yet!

This past week has been completely full of textbooks, lesson plans, reading articles on teaching and classroom management, and basically obsessing and worrying over all things that are teaching.  I'm a tad overwhelmed by how much work I have yet to do before the school year begins (August 22.  That's twenty days, y'all.), but I'm super excited about having my own classroom and actually being a teacher again.  I'm really hopeful that this year will be awesome.

And if it is super awesome, I think that my amazing friend Katie will have had a lot to do with that.  Katie and I went to college together and had a lot of the same classes, thanks to having the same major.  Our final semester we had every class together (All of us did, actually.  It was super fun!), but when student teaching came around, we both moved back to our hometowns.

Here's Katie and I just after graduation!  We got bored during the ceremony that lasted 5.72 days and sat there talking the whole time.

We've kept in touch, and when she found out that I got this teaching job, she surprised me with something HUGE.  See, she's taught 8th grade Science for the past 2 years, but will not be returning.  She really wanted to give someone all her supplies and resources because she wouldn't be needing them anymore, and she chose to give them to me!  I'm not even exaggerating when I say it took the entire back end of my parents' minivan to hold all the stuff she gave me (this is a very good thing, by the way...classrooms are not easy to decorate and stock with supplies!).  I'm talking supplies, posters, games, lab materials, lesson plans, power points, organizational things...the whole shebang.

I know.  Amazing!

Like my job, it was completely unexpected and such a blessing.  The Lord totally answered our prayers for provision as we continue to try to get back on our own feet.  So thanks, Katie, for being an amazingly kind and generous friend!

Like I said, I'm really looking forward to this coming school year.  But I'd better get back to work - I've still got a million things to do!
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