My new project

This year I'm excited to take on a new project: an online professional learning network for my district. I'm eager to share resources with my colleagues as this is a true love of mine. If you're interested...check it out!


"What Teachers Make"

A friend of mine shared this video on facebook. I love Taylor Mali---his spoken word poetry is incredible, and this poem is a great way to kick of the school year. Listen to and watch the entire thing; I think you'll like it.

Year four= just beginning

Today my classroom, room 116, was filled with pubescent freshmen---their energy and nerves hanging thick in the air like mosquito repellent.

Today I started my fourth year of teaching. I can't believe it. Last week I was not ready to start; I dragged my feet this summer getting work done, and have really questioned my career path. But once the first group of students timidly walked through my doors, I lit up. Watching their nerves slowly fade and their bodies relax as much as they could in those painfully uncomfortable desks was incredible. I'm anxious to get past the rules, expectations, policies, and procedures part of the year and move into the meat and potatoes of my job: teaching English, hopefully sparking a fire for learning, writing, thinking, questioning, and doing all at the same time.

It's only 8:53 PM here...but, we hit a wall of exhaustion an hour ago. It's tough getting back into a routine. So, I think it's time to crack open a book and read myself to sleep. For all you teachers out there---enjoy this year. Savor the challenges, seek out more ways to grow, and celebrate the success along the way.


Just in case...

I find myself using the phrase, "just in case..." quite often these days.

We cleaned out our office/spare room last week "just in case" we are placed with a baby sometime during the crazy, hectic school year.

We gave up some of our extra duties at school "just in case..."

This week I've spent hours in my classroom creating entire units: handouts, quizzes, assignments, etc (something I don't normally do until, well, when I teach the unit)..."just in case...."

We picked out a few names..."just in case...."

You get the hint.

But I'm running out of things to do with the excuse "just in case." If you know me at all, you know that I am constantly moving, planning, dwelling. So now that I'm running out of things to do "just in case," I find myself in a predicament. What do I do while I wait? What can we do when we are told to "be patient and wait for the call"? What can I do when women all around me are giving birth or announcing pregnancies--something I can't do? What do you do when you have no control?

I pray. I pray every day for our hopeful-future child and his/her birth parents. And this brings me comfort--but it doesn't get me up and moving...so still, I feel unsatisfied.

If you're a praying person, pray that my soul would be calmed, that I would find peace in simply living and carrying on with my daily life. Pray that I would not dwell on what might or might not be.


Home updates

On Thursday we headed to the new IKEA near Denver. It. was. awesome. We spent an entire afternoon walking through showrooms and adding to our wish lists. We did, however, come out with a Subaru full of stuff: a bookshelf, a desk, and some kitchen storage items. Yesterday Nate and I spent the entire day putting together furniture, cleaning out our spare room, and moving boxes and boxes of books from upstairs to downstairs (and for the record---we should've bought a bigger bookshelf. Our new one is packed with no spare room---so, we'll have to buy another!)

The spare room was once an office and is now a spare room (really...it's more of a wanna-be baby room) with a love seat, rocking chair, and a few near empty book cases. Hopefully we have it cleaned out enough so that if we do get a call to pick up a baby, the transition will be as easy as possible.

So here are two photos of our finished product. It's now my favorite nook in the house!


Last night's menu...

Last night we had good friends over for dinner, so I tied on my apron and tested my culinary skills. The menu: Mediterranean chicken and orzo salad stuffed inside red peppers, cucumbers with tomatoes, chives, and parsley, quinoa skillet bread, and red wine. I wish I had thought to snap a photo of this meal as it was incredibly bright and aesthetically pleasing!

The main recipes were amazingly delicious and relatively easy to make. The quinoa made the bread incredibly moist and the cream on top gave it a nice custard-like consistency. And the main course was a nice summer meal---cool orzo, feta, olives, tomatoes, and chicken drenched in a homemade vinaigrette dressing and stuffed inside gutted red peppers.

If you're looking to mix up your summer menu, check out both recipes...you won't be disappointed!


Stoic people = Holy people???

Here's the scoop: I've always wanted a stoic nature. Instead...I am an emotional hurricane who cries while reading books and listening to song lyrics. I'm that person who doesn't easily part with things---grievances and my ratty baby blankie. When I was a kid, I'd cry each time my mom made me fill a garbage bag with toys or stuffed animals to donate to Goodwill. My vivid imagination told me toys had feelings long before Pixar and Toy Story. A facial expression, tone of voice, or a questionable line in an email can send me reeling over the edge, seething with anger. There were moments during our early struggle with infertilty where I spent entire weekends tucked in my bed watching re-runs of Gilmore Girls, pounding down doughnuts and mini Twix bars, wondering why God was denying us the blessing of a baby. So when I meet people who seem calm, put-together, and impervious to their surroundings, I tend to feel like a blubbering idiot who cares too much.

But this week as I continued my study through the book of Jeremiah, I came across an intimate exchange between Jeremiah and God. If you don't know anything about Jeremiah, I'll try to sum up his story quickly:

God called Jeremiah while he was very young to be a prophet to Judah (the southern kingdom of Israel). The people of Judah had been sinning for awhile: worshiping crazy statues, getting plastered frequently, having slutty sex, loving money more than people, etc. etc. Jeremiah spoke on God's behalf to his people and prophesied all the bad things that would happen to Judah if they kept sinning and rejecting God. But the people of Judah we're all like, "Whatev---this sinnin' stuff feels good. Oh and by the way---we hate you Jeremiah." That's the condensed version.

As Jeremiah kept prophesying and pleading with his people, the people kept rejecting him. I can't imagine how isolated and alienated Jeremiah felt. He remained relatively unmoved until chapter 15 (he did plead on behalf of his people to God earlier, but he didn't really reach a breaking point until chapter 15). In chapter 15 he kind of snaps and tells God that he wished he had died at birth. God's immediate response is, "'I will take care of you Jeremiah'" (15:11). But Jeremiah cries back, "'Lord, you know what's happening to me. Please step in and help me. Punish my persecutors! Please give me time; don't let me die young. It's for your sake that I am suffering. When I discovered your words, I devoured them. They are my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God of Heaven's Armies. I never joined the people in their merry feasts. I sat alone because your hand was on me. I was filled with indignation at their sins. Why then does my suffering continue? Why is my wound so incurable? Your help seems as uncertain as a seasonal brook, like a spring that has gone dry''" (15: 15-18). I'll let you read God's response to him (it's incredible....go read it!). God gives Jeremiah peace for awhile, but five chapters later, after being imprisoned and whipped for doing what God told him to do, he again wishes he had died at birth (chapter 20).

I tend to think that really holy people are those who seem to be unaffected by the world, those who seem to never show a moment of weakness. So these passages gave me a sense of peace. First, if someone so great like Jeremiah can have moments of insecurity, then I can too. I'm not less of a person or less of a believer for my moments of emotional outbursts or pleading with God during moments of trouble (especially if I keep communicating with Him when times are good). Second, these intimate exchanges between Jeremiah and God remind me that I can go to God even in moments of weakness when I'm insecure and wishing I had died at birth. I mean, He's really the only being who can bring me peace anyway. And finally, the comfort I find in reading about Jeremiah's struggles, also teaches me that it's okay to share these struggles with others as it could make others feel not so alone in the world.

If you're feeling doubtful and self-conscious, you're not alone. It happens to the best of us. And God is there to listen, so cry out to Him; tell Him how you feel.