Saturday, August 20, 2016

Because going back to school is a little scary for the teachers, too.

On Monday, all of the teachers in my county will head back to work after a nice summer vacation.  Some of us have already been inside of our classrooms and have dealt with some of the work that needs to be managed, while others are waiting until Monday morning to deal with the inevitable.  

Small space and wondering how in the world it's all going to come together.
We've had some time away from these rooms, and we're gearing up for the return to routines and schedules and crazy.  Most of us have spent some time working through lesson ideas and writing things down to remember in the coming year.  We've applied for grants and purchased things on sale. We've made stuff for our rooms, and we've Pinned away.  

We're excited about the fresh start.  We're excited about new supplies and new faces.  We're ready to see our favorite co-workers and catch up over lunch in public (because that's not happening again until the next teacher workday).  We are shiny and well-scrubbed and maybe even have some new clothes to help transition.  We're suntanned and rested.  We sleep in and stay up late doing things we want to do when we want to do them.  And we love the start of each year because it's all so new again and we tell ourselves that this is the year we're going to do things even better than before. 

But, we're also churning with nerves. 

There's a part of us not ready to face the new year.  We've finally crawled out of the insanity of the previous school year and feel like humans again.  We are not ready for the bladder abuse and exhaustion.  We have new curriculums and things we have to teach and it makes us doubt our abilities.  We wonder if we're going to have another encounter with that parent and we pray the younger siblings end up on someone else's roster.  We want those coworkers to like us and we want to get along.  We want to rise above and run away from the drama that seems to circulate a mostly-female environment.  We are having our own babies and we've recently lost loved ones.  We have our own children and we know that for the next 10 months we will spend more time with our non-biological kids and we have major mama guilt.  We haven't slept well since the beginning of August and we have nightmares.  

This weekend we will want to live it up, but in the back of our minds we have anxiety as we approach Monday morning.  It's like sitting at the top of the roller coaster those precious seconds before we're sent rushing down the track on the first big drop.  Our minds are running in a million different directions, and most of us have had at least one minor breakdown.  Even though we've done this many, many, many times--we still get a little nervous before the beginning of each year.  

Because we know what it entails--and it's not for the faint of heart.  

We know that we're about to give away our hearts and souls for the next 10 months.  We know that there are little people who desperately need some love and attention, and they are going to take, take, take from us and even though they make us lose our sanity, we will fiercely defend and do everything we can to protect them from any and all verbal, mental, emotional, and physical harm.  We will have our hearts brimming with love, and we will have our hearts broken.  We know there are grownups who are going to test our patience and are going to make us feel like we can't do anything correctly.  We know that we are going to return home completely spent and unable to function on all cylinders in the evenings because we've given it all away during the day--even though we try our hardest to avoid this each and every year.  We know that there are days we will win, and there will be days we want to throw in the towel because we can't get it together.  We will laugh until our stomachs hurt and we will ugly cry.  We will be so proud of our students when they finally get it, and we will bang our heads on the walls when we've run out of strategies.  We will Hunger Games whistle (do-me-re-sol), and we will depend on other grownups for solidarity.  

And in June, we will smile because we've made it again.  

    Let's do this, teacher friends. xoxxo

Monday, August 15, 2016

What I've Learned this Summer: 2016 Edition

Summer vacation is closing its cute little self down, and while a part of me is dying and crying about the return to schedules, routines, and bedtimes--another part of me is celebrating schedules, routines, and bedtimes!

I was made for order and control, y'all.  

Do I want to return to work after being a lady of leisure for the past two months?  Not especially--but I enjoy getting a paycheck the other 10 months of the year, and my little students are sweet and usually make me smile.  I'm just dreading the return to early morning dragging the children and my old lady bones out of the bed, and the go-go-go afternoons and the collapsing on the recliner when everyone is in bed and feeling like a sack of potatoes.  I'm dreading the folder signing and the lunch boxes and the making sure we have all the things for all the assignments and not having all day snuggles with littlest sister.  However, there comes a time every summer when I look at my kids and I say, "Y'all need to go back to school" which means, that I must return to school so there are teachers waiting for the kids.  

So, August is here and it's time to say goodbye for Summer 2016.  Today I'm linking up with other bloggers and reflecting on what I've learned this past summer:  

There are good and generous people all around me.  I've been fortunate to receive some ukuleles and books for my classroom this summer thanks to donations from companies and individuals in my community and area.  I sometimes get so mad and irritated at the world through the lens of social media--but there are good, good people all over the place and I've been touched by their generosity.  

Mothers need a secret chocolate stash.  Earlier this summer I purchased a bag of snack-sized York peppermint patties during a Target run for some back to school supplies (because they put those babies out in March now--not that I'm complaining because they also put my beloved Christmas out in August) (praise hands and Christmas trees emojis).  When I got home, instead of emptying the supplies into our office, I just kept it all bagged up since it was things I would need later in the summer and I didn't want the girls thinking I had gotten them new supplies for crafting.  I also didn't empty the candy into our treat jar because I sort of forgot it was in the bag.  A few weeks ago I remembered that I had bought that little bag of treats and I snuck myself a York.  It was literally two bites of dark chocolate and minty bliss for me.  I smiled and felt a little calmer because York is the perfect combination of delight and refreshment.  I hid the wrapper because I didn't want the kids to see my chocolate and force me share because Yorks are a hot commodity in our house.  Some mamas might frown on this selfishness--but let me tell you--these little chocolates have gotten me through many a stressful moment this summer.     

The Olympics are my favorite summer pastime.  I feel more patriotic during the Olympic season than on any 4th of July.  I cry every. single. time. I hear our national anthem when it gets to "O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave" line of the song and seeing those athletes claim the gold.  It's an automatic tear trigger, without fail.  Except. . . 

I'm a little peeved at Lilly King and her attitude.  I mean, I totally agree that competing clean is an important part of the fairness of the games.  And I understand rivalry and the arrogance that comes with being a national and world champion.  But she's a little over the top for my taste--and she's a kid.  Just put your index finger down and swim.  I mean, if she was 30-something and had won several medals and had a lengthy career to back up her mouth, then I would not care as much (although I got a little annoyed at MP when he did it, too--don't egg on the children, MP, you medal-winning machine).  Lilly King acted a little bratty and I personally don't care for it.       

Hydration is important.  We all know how important it is to drink more water--even though it really doesn't have a lot of flavor or fun, we know we need to drink it on the regular to keep it on the regular.  It's so good for your skin and singing voice.  It gives you more energy and makes you feel good.  And, what I've also learned this summer--being dehydrated can really mess with your mental stability as well.  When your body is stressed from not having enough liquids, it can cause your mind to become anxious, stressed, and depressed as well.  I do my best not to shirk away from my personal history with anxiety and postpartum depression because there is stigma attached to mental health.  Chris and I promised that our struggle through my PPD and anxious days would not be in vain--it's a real and hard thing to walk through.  So, my fellow crazies--drink your water (and get your crazy meds if needed). 

Disney Planning is my hobby.  Some people craft.  Some people build.  Some people learn instruments.  Some people decorate.  I get thrills from the challenge of planning a big family vacation to Disney World.  I like looking at the calendars.  I like reading the forums.  I like planning.  I like scheming.  I like looking at all of the options and writing things down on paper and then transferring them to color-coded Word docs and Excel sheets.  I like getting the most Disney bang for our buck.  I like sharing the information with my family and creating family groups so we can discuss all of this information.  I could seriously do it alllllll day long.  Our family is planning another return to the castle and we're also going with my extended family this time and the challenge of planning for 15 different people is bringing me so much joy.  It's up there with my deep love and devotion for the Christmas season.  Almost.  

So, hang in there parent and teacher friends as we gear up for BTS 2016-2017.  
We've got one more week left in our neck of the woods and we're going to make the most of these lazy summer days! 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The world is going crazy.

If I hear one more sad story, I think my head might explode.  

I cannot deal with the endless stream of bad news, heartbreaking photos, and upset people.  I have read countless articles with opinions and not a lot of facts.  I have seen comments that make my head spin.  I have wondered what in the world is this nation coming to--and I'm worried for the sake of my children having to grow up at such a time as this.

The news isn't really that new--these events and issues have been going on for centuries.  Unfortunately, with all of our connectedness these days thanks to the 24-hour news channels and tickers across the bottom of our screens and social media, we can't filter through what is actually news and what is just sensationalism.  We have seen the biased media blame this person and that group and ignorance abounds.

I find myself doubting the goodness of mankind and the intentions of people I've never met.  I make assumptions about situations, and I don't like the way my heart wants to believe the worst about each and every story.  We have been inundated with terrible news, so why shouldn't we believe that people are despicable?

Because that's what we're told each and every minute of every hour of every day. 

My friends of color are hurting.  My friends in uniform are hurting.  My LGBTQ friends are hurting.  My conservative friends are hurting.  My liberal friends are hurting.  My church is hurting.  My country is hurting.  We're all hurting and instead of deciding to stand together and announcing enough is enough, we take it to the social media streets and destroy one another in the name of goodness and love.  We sit there in the safety of our homes and take shots at each other because we disagree, and everyone who refuses to get on board is ignorant, racist, and/or stupid while there are people literally bleeding on the streets.

I'm DONE with it all.  

I'm not trying to bury my head in the sand and hope it all goes away--because I know that it's not going to be right again until He returns.  I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I'm above it all, because I consume the information like the rest of the nation.  My life is just as messy as the next person, but I've been fortunate enough to avoid the national spotlight.  There are enormous and difficult issues that we're facing in our country, and there are a lot of ways to look at and consider these issues.

But I can control what I decide to let into my home and heart.  I can decide how much of my day I spend on social media and reading the news.  I can filter through and remove the hateful words on my sites, and I can refuse to be a part of the problem by participating in conversations that cannot be won.  I can remind myself that a lot of the news on the internet is not true, and that just because someone made a cute meme on Facebook does not make it factual.  I can refuse to post passive-aggressive status updates.  I can love my community by acting like a decent human being and I can decide to believe the best of a person in a situation until I'm proven wrong.  I can try to put myself in someone else's shoes and imagine how I would feel if it were my family, my children, my friends, and/or myself.  I can use common sense and good manners and sometimes choose to remain silent because if I wouldn't say it with a bullhorn in the middle of a crowded arena, then I don't need to post it on my public site.  I can choose to respect.  I can choose to have hard conversations with people in my immediate circles from all walks of life.  I can open my eyes and heart and try to understand different points of view.

And, most importantly, I can choose to love. 


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