Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Some things never change.

Like my inability to blog on a regular basis now.

However, since the last time you heard from me, I've been up to the same old tricks.
No worries.
But as it is December aka the last month of 2014 aka where the heck did the time go (?!) I realized I might want to have some documentation of all the same ole same ole I've been up to lately.

Let's back up shall we...

October was a blur of month - as it usually is - full of fried food, pumpkin carvings, and costumes. You know, the usual October shenanigans.

Our jack-o-lantern lasted a whole week this year before it rotted and caved in, which is a standing record for us. #encproblems

I saw several ways to "preserve" your pumpkin and had every intention of trying them out. Except not really. Because ain't nobody got time to rub Vaseline all over a jack-o-lantern. That thing is lucky it got carved.

We celebrated Silly Sock Day at school on Halloween - which was a Friday and a half day, thank goodness. My kids had earned their first compliment party of the year and they voted to have a barefoot day in the room so we kicked our shoes off at the door and spent the day slipping and sliding around in our silly sock feet.

Sidenote - it never ceases to amaze me how excited these kids get over the littlest of things. A barefoot day was completely their idea and they thought it was the coolest thing!

Oh and we made this "Witches' Brew" thanks to my classroom Volunteer - Aunt Debbie. I can't remember where I found it but I definitely can't take credit for the idea. 
It was so fun mixing it up and passing it out. Plus I liked how it wasn't completely unhealthy.

Halloween weekend obviously involved lots of candy, costumes, and booze. We wouldn't have any other way around these parts.

Saturday morning was our Partners in Education Annual PIE Bowl. If you recall from the past few years, it's a fundraiser for our local schools as well as a chance to dress up and act completely silly. Oh yea, and some people actually bowl too. My school has won a prize every year that I've been there (either Best Spirit or Best Costume) so we've got a lot to live up to.

This year our theme was "Once Upon a PIE" so we dressed up as fairy tale characters. I was Snow White and recruited THE cutest dwarf ever.

There's so many new teachers at my school this year. PIE Bowl is always a good chance to get to know some of the people you work with that you might not normally spend a lot of time with. You know, because you're busy molding the minds of the future generation.

That night, Robbie and I had our Annual Halloween Party and it did not disappoint.

{Recipes at the bottom}

Seriously, we have the best friends. It's nearly impossible to get together and not have a good time!

I was a vintage cheerleader. Apparently it was hard to tell? Willow stayed nakey all night. She is not a fan of costumes. #partypooper

November was brought in with a big, greasy breakfast and snuggles on the couch.

Halloween Mini-Recipes:
("Mini" because they're so easy, it doesn't seem fair to even justify a recipe. But we're just gonna go with it anyway, mmmkay?)

Mummy Dogs (Pigs in a Blanket)
- Lil Smokies 
- Pillsbury Crescent Rolls

Cut crescent rolls into thirds. Wrap lil weenies. Bake according to crescent roll directions.

Goblin Eyes (Meatballs)
- Frozen Meatballs
- Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ sauce

Toss everything in a crockpot. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Zombie Guts (Queso Dip and chips)
- 2 lb hamburger meat
- one large box Velveeta cheese
- 1/2 can Rotel or Salsa
- 2 packs taco seasoning

Brown beef and add taco seasoning according to package. Cube Velveeta cheese. Add everything to a a crockpot. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until cheese is melted.

Vampire Treats (Cookies and Mini Pies)
- Store bought ha!

Monday, November 17, 2014

I think I'm becoming a self-righteous teacher...

Robbie and I went to church last week for the first time in way too long.
Ever since we've been married, we've struggled finding our "grown-up" church home.
Consequently, we've spent the past three years hopping back and forth among several different churches. While we enjoy the different experiences we gain from attending different churches, we do miss the continuity of a permanent church family. Along with the continuity of regular attendance.

But I'm getting off topic.
The sermon this past week was based on Matthew 25:14-30, the Parable of the Talents and the risk that it takes to follow God and do His Will.
And I realized something.
Something that's been in the back of my head for a while, but something I'm finally ready to fully admit.

Anytime someone talks about ministry or using the talents God gives us or helping others, I immediately get on my high-horse because I'm a teacher.

By default, I help others everyday.
I go above and beyond daily to give more to others than I do myself.
I honestly believe that God called me to be a teacher and I'm fulfilling that calling every day.
I sacrifice. I give. I love unconditionally.
Every single day.
Because it's my job. And my calling. And my passion.
The passion that God gave me.

But is it enough?

I've questioned this before but today this question is coming from a different frame of reference.
Am I playing it safe because I'm a teacher?
Am I limiting myself? Am I turning down other opportunities to give more, do more, be more, because I'm already giving, doing, being so much?

Admittedly, when Barnes & Noble asks if I want to donate a dollar to help give books to a child in need, I say no. Because I already "donate" multiple dollars to buy multiple books for multiple children in need, in the form of my classroom library and the scholastic books I give as Christmas gifts to my students each year.

I think sometimes I justify turning down mission trips or tithing opportunities or other stewardship deeds because I am already a steward in my classroom.
But maybe instead of justifying the things I already do, I should open my heart to what God wants me to do. Maybe being a steward in the classroom is enough. Maybe that's exactly where God wants to be and what God wants me to be doing.

But maybe it's not.

Maybe He wants me to do more. And I've been so wrapped up in the good that I'm doing in my classroom (because even if it makes me sound a bit full of myself...I am doing good in my classroom) that I'm missing opportunities to do good in other places too.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Only Participation Prize I Agree With

I did it.

I ran a half-marathon.
Almost a month ago, but that's neither here nor there.

The entire time I was running, I kept thinking about the epic blog post I would write bragging telling y'all all about it.

I've been in a complete state of shock since about mile 9.
I never ever had any desire to run a half-marathon.
In fact, I distinctively remember having a conversation in February with one of the girls I teach with about our upcoming 5K Glow Run that went a little something like this...

"It won't be that bad...it's not like it's something stupid like a half-marathon. Who would ever willingly run 13.1 miles anyway?"

Foot meet mouth.
Apparently, I am not that person who willingly runs 13.1 miles.

Well, the one who ran 13.1 miles. 
I honestly don't know if it'll ever happen again. 

I didn't train the way I was supposed to at. all. 
And I guess technically, my time suffered because of that.
But really, who the eff cares? 
By race day, I had one goal - to finish. 
Well that, and not keel over and die.

Once I started running I knew I wanted to make it to at least mile 6 without stopping. A 10K. Totally doable, even with my lack of training. 

Mile 6 came and went and I was still feeling pretty good so I kept going. 
And going and going. 
By about mile 10 I felt like dying forreal and started taking short little walking breaks.
At mile 11 I got scared I was getting lost. So I picked up the pace a little.
And by mile 12 I was almost tears. I had one mile left and knew I could do anything for one mile. 

Little did I know, it was THEE longest mile of my life. That last stretch to the finish line felt like the never-ending Rainbow Race on Mario Kart. 

Not only was Robbie waiting for me at the finish line, my mom was there with craisons. And let me tell you what. I have never loved craisons so good as I did in that moment. 

I was also greeted with a big, shiny medal.

Now, usually I am not a fan of participation medals/trophies/awards/etc.
The winner gets a medal. 
Everyone else gets the satisfaction of finishing. 
Personally, I think it's doing our kids an injustice by not keeping scores at sporting events and not letting anyone "lose". It's sending the completely wrong message.

However, the satisfaction I felt of finishing was HUGE but I was equally as proud of  having that medal. #sorrynotsorry

After meeting up with some other friends who also ran the race, cashing in my beer tickets (which I thought I lost mid-run...yipes), and purchasing my obnoxious 13.1 car sticker, I devoured a huge hot hamburger plate (at 10:30AM mind you) and went home to take a 5 hour nap. I was exhausted. 

My legs were screaming at me that night and it was slow moving on Sunday but by Monday I felt almost back to normal. A little sore but nothing terrible. 

Finishing that race was quite possibly one of the most out of body things I've ever done. 
It's still surreal to think that I actually ran 13.1 miles. 
My final time was 2:22 which was slooooooow but steady. 

8 months ago I was no where near "a runner". 
It still even feels strange calling myself "a runner" and the fact that I haven't been running since the race probably supports that feeling. 
But in a short amount of time, I set a goal, pushed myself completely out of my comfort zone, and accomplished that goal.

And got a medal!

P.S. I don't want to speak too soon, but I may or may not have given myself a goal to actually become a regular blogger again. Keep your fingers crossed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Look who showed up to play

Well hello there blogger.com. Long time, no see. (Literally - I almost forgot my password.) For what it's worth I've written at least 25 blog posts in my head since the last time I actually showed up to type one out. Finding the time to type one out is proving the hard part.

As I sit here at 5:45 on a Wednesday night, drinking my second beer, I figured, why not actually try this whole blogging thing out again. So here we go.

I feel like I should at least update y'all on what's been going on in my life recently before I spill out some witty, yet pointless, post. Although after you read through what's been going on with me lately, you'll probably still consider it a pointless post.

I know the trend. Usually when bloggers take an unexplained leave of absence, they show up three months later with some Earth-shattering news. Like a pregnancy, or a career change, or a cross country move.

You should be able to figure out by the fact that I'm drinking at 5:45 on a Wednesday night that I am neither pregnant nor in a new career #teacherproblems. And I'll go ahead and kill the suspense for you...Robbie and I didn't move and we're not really planning to anytime soon. We still go house hunting at least once a month, you know, just for kicks and giggles. But again, that's nothing new.

Robbie's recovering nicely from his back surgery. Everything seems to be back to normal, which is such a relief. He's still not really supposed to do yard-work which means we are currently the disgrace of the neighborhood, because you know I'm not getting out there to do it.

We're officially a two pay-check family again, which is so nice. I never thought I'd be so excited about a NC Teacher's pay-check. And because of it, we've already called a landscaping guy to come fix the aforementioned problem.

The school year is in full swing and has brought some unexpected changes and challenges. That's the thing about teaching. It never ever stays the same. You, literally, start over every August. Which is a curse and a blessing. Sometimes I yearn for monotony.

I'm still working at BWW and yes, I'm probably a little bit crazy. But it's good money and usually pretty fun when I get there. Sleep is overrated anyway.

Football is going strong - across every domain. The tailgate crew is back in action and having a large time, as always.

I'm kicking butt and taking names in fantasy. And our Friday nights are once again spent at the high school football field, which I personally think is one of the best places to be.

I'm "training" for a half-marathon...kind of. I've signed up for one. And I've been working on running longer distances. I still don't feel anywhere close to prepared. But YOLO. My mom's afraid I'm going to croak out and die before it's all over with. I'm just hoping there's free beer at the finish line. Or at least a free protein bar. We'll find out in t-minus 3 weeks. Yikes.

I'm obsessed with almonds now. And Katy Perry's This is How We Do. Just FYI.

A few weeks ago, I joined a Bible Study with a group of girls and it's actually one of the highlights of my week. Admittedly, I still don't know where any of the books in the Bible are. If only I could remember that song we learned in Sunday School when I was little. But the table of contents works just fine. And I'm loving the fellowship.

All my siblings are in college right now. Which is pretty cool and depressing all at the same time.

My mom and step-dad finally sold their house - the house I grew up in - and are now renting the cutest little house while they build their "forever" home. It's surreal to think about someone else living in my childhood house but it's super exciting to see mom and Wave building their dream house together. Also, they still live 2.7 miles away (Literally. I run there often.) so not much has changed.

And that pretty much sums it up.
Not much has changed. Yet, in someways, everything has.

Things at school are very different.
Things at home are very different.
But still kind of just the same too.

It's a new month. And it's one of my favorite months. Possibilities are endless.
Who knows, you may even get a blog post out of me more than once in a blue moon.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Some Southern Style

Well folks, it's official. Back to school is kicking my tail. And today's only the first day with kids. Last week was a whirlwind, dusting the cobwebs off of summertime and setting up for another busy year ahead.

The end of summer is always bittersweet. It's nice to get back into a routine. I just wish that routine didn't start at 5:15 in the morning.

I also always wish I had had more time to get things done around the house. Remember that summer to-list I created? Yea...well, as usual, I veered off a bit and still have quite a few unchecked boxes. But I think I figured out my problem - my crafty eyes are always bigger than my patience. I have all these great ideas and then I realize how hard, and time consuming, executing them really is. Plus, nine times out of ten, the vision I have in my head is much better than what actually comes out.

That's why I am thankful for creative ladies like the one behind Some Southern Style. She not only has the amazing vision but she also has the skill to bring those visions to life.

Nicole specializes in custom pieces and turning old, boring furniture into true works of art. I seriously have found myself scrolling through her Facebook pictures in awe.

Up-cycled furniture is such a big thing right now. And for someone who comes from a family obsessed with antiques, it's something I personally love. Being able to take a piece and turn it into something new and unique to your home and your decor style is like the best of both worlds.

It's just hard to do on your own. Trust me, I've tried.

Some Southern Style also has the cutest pallet signs and canvases you could ever think of. And they're all custom ordered to your liking. Perfect for home decor or even adding that personalized touch to a wedding.

If you're like me, you can sit back in your world of denial and tell yourself that you'll eventually get around to re-doing that piece of furniture or you'll just paint something to fill that empty space on the wall above your couch. But let's be real. You won't. And neither will I. And if you do, you'll quickly remember how bad of a painter you are and you'll be disappointed in the "finished" product. 

Let's save us all the trouble and let Nicole help us out. She's got the real talent, plus she's just so stinkin cute and nice to work with. She'll put in the hard work and make it look ten times better than you ever could on your own. 

And while you're at it, go ahead and order this china cabinet. Can you say gorgeous? You know you want it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Shift in Perspective

I'm going to skip the "sorry I've been MIA" speech for now. I'm afraid that line is getting a bit redundant. My bad.

The best thing happened to me today.
Like so good....I was literally brought to tears.
And obviously encouraged to blog all about it.

This summer I did what unfortunately a lot of teachers do, I picked up a summer job.
I'm fortunate enough to teach in a county that will be take my ten-month salary and spread it out through twelve-months so I still get a paycheck in the summer.
Which is a God send for "budgetly-challenged" folks like myself.

But having some extra cash has been so nice.
And almost a necessity after the past few months.

I got a job waiting tables and I actually really do enjoy it, all things considered.
It's so different than teaching, which is exactly what I need.
Plus I get to interact with a bunch of different people, which most of the time is pretty fun.

I worked the lunch shift today and admittedly was kind of dreading it.
When I say I enjoy waiting tables...I don't mean I love waiting tables.
But I had a table today, that completely altered my mood and has given me a whole new perspective on things.

There was a table close by with two kids, one of which was going into first grade.
I told him that I was a first grade teacher and that obviously first grade was the best grade.
We chatted about that a bit and then I moved on.

My other table had overheard the conversation and started talking to me about it.
Turns out the lady at the table was a former third grade teacher.
She had gotten out of the profession for the many reasons that so many others do.

Unrealistic standards and expectations.
Ridiculously low pay.
Unnecessary politics.
Very little to no respect.
Limited resources and support.
The list goes on and on.

We chatted about some of that but also talked about how admirable the profession is.
And talked about all the good that's in it...that not every one always sees. Teachers included.

When they left and I went to clear their table, I found my tip, which was extremely generous.
But I also found a note.
And the note is what meant more than anything else ever could.

"Thanks for what you do. Keep touching lives."

It was written on their credit card slip, so I couldn't save it.
But the words are ingrained in my heart.
Not because the words are all that profound, or even because they're words I've never heard before.
It was just something about seeing them today.
At my second job. 
Two days before I start back at school.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in all the bullshit yep, I said it that comes with teaching and public education. 
It's hard. It's not ever fair.
It's actually quite depressing 98% of the time.

When I graduated and started teaching, I just knew I'd stay in it forever. 
Now, I admittedly take it year by year. 

But there's a voice inside of me. 
It's inside of every teacher.
It's not very loud and it gets drowned out a lot.
But it's saying "keep touching lives".

Because whether I see it or not, that's what I'm doing. 
I knew going into teaching that I wouldn't make a lot of money.
Does that justify politicians continuing to stiff my pay? No, not at all.
Does the fact that I knew I wouldn't make a lot of money make it okay that I've got to get a second job to make ends meet? Definitely not.

But, it is what it is. 
And that's what I was reminded of today.

Other people (who don't always know what they're talking about) can dictate my pay, can dictate what I teach, can dictate how I judge a student's success. 

But they can't ever stop me from touching lives. 

As a new school year arrives, much too quickly, I'm going to keep that voice loud and up front. 
The one that's telling me I'm touching lives. 
That's the perspective I want to focus on. 
All the other stuff is going to be pushed to the side for now.

With all this being said, I completely understand why people leave teaching.
I know people, who are amazing teachers, who have left. 
Not because they stopped listening to the voice inside of them. 
But because they gained another voice. One telling them there's a better way for them to touch lives.
And I believe each one of them will.

That's the thing about teachers. 
We're doing what we're doing because it's ingrained in us. 
The outlet most of us choose to use is a school.
Until that one doesn't work for us anymore. 
Then we find another outlet for all our good life-changing lessons and hot-glue craft projects. 

One day, the rest of society will hopefully realize that. 
I just hope the schools aren't empty of all the great teachers by then.

For all the teachers getting ready to start school,
and the ones that have already gone back (ack)
don't let others drown out the voice.
Keep touching lives.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Things That (do and don't) Burn My Biscuit

Things that do burn my biscuit....

- Working during the day. Especially when it's sunny and 85. The. Worst.

- People who publicly start countdowns wayyyy too early. "385 days until I say I do." Hello? 385 days is still a long ass time. Public countdowns should not begin until we're in at least in double digits.

- The fact that so many people are already back at school setting up their classrooms. For one, it's too soon. Summer is still in full force...get out and enjoy it. For two, you're making the rest of us look like super slackers.

- When other people aren't on time.

- Crickets that chirp incessantly outside my bedroom window.

- The fact that I haven't been running in over a week and the fact that that bothers me.

- People who jump on bandwagons just for the sake of jumping on the bandwagon.


Things that do not burn my biscuit (and instead make me happy, happy, happy)...

- Dinners and drinks with teacher friends. Le duh.

- The Leadership Training I went to last week. So much good information. So many fun people. So much motivation for the year to come (that I'm bottling up and saving until August because summer is still in full force; see above.)

- Redbox movie nights at home with my family.

- Finally having making time for crafting.

- Robbie. Over and over again.

- Coming home to freshly mowed grass (thanks Carter).

- When blog friends write real books and get them published for the whole world to buy and read and love!

- Holding brand new babies.

- Listening to Pandora All. The. Time.

- Photobooths (only because these pictures are too funny not to share.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dear Robbie

Today marks our three year wedding anniversary. How has is already been three years?

Weren't we just leaving Tryon Palace, calling our parents, telling them that we were engaged?
And here we are - three years, two houses, one unemployment, three jobs, two careers, one back surgery, four cars, and countless kisses later. I couldn't imagine doing life with anyone other than you. I'm not sure I would even know how.

I am so blessed to have you as my husband and as my best friend. I have fallen in love with you harder than I ever thought I could.

Words can't express how proud I am of all you've accomplished, particularly in this past year. I know it's been crazy and nothing like we were expecting, but it has been perfect in every way. I wouldn't change one thing about these past three years even if I could.

I am so thankful for the way you love me, take care of me, make me laugh, and keep me safe. I am reassured everyday that God handpicked you for me and I could not be luckier to have you in my life.

Thanks for sitting through countless hours of Netflix marathons with me, for not laughing too hard at the ridiculous History questions I ask you, for being the best laundry folder in all the land, for making sure all our bills get paid on time because you know I have a mental block against numbers and deadlines, and really just for being you.

I can't wait to spend the next three times 30 years with you!

Love, M