Head above water

I imagine that being a teacher is somewhat like being a parent, only on a time clock and with a contract attached. You sacrifice so much, but you wouldn't have it any other way.

So much more is involved than just opening a door and teaching a class full of teenagers We hear all the time, "Oh, teachers should get paid more," or "I could never be a teacher because you don't make any money." With buzz words like budget cuts and limited funding; lack of resources and increased class sizes pelting the education world these days, we sometimes feel like an army with our shields up fighting off the swords coming our way. But doing so successfully. 

You see, for most of us, we wouldn't see it any other way. It would be really nice to not have to worry about the logistics and budget and wondering if our job is stable for the next year, and yet even during these tough times, we survive. And we keep coming back for more. We shut the door of our classrooms at the end of the day after a particularly difficult class is finished, and we turn around and show up the next morning by choice. We get joy out of investing in our students and helping them navigate their adolescent years. We embrace the challenge of differentiating our instruction towards very diverse students-- many in which we have absolutely nothing in common with. And yet we manage to find common ground. 

Being a teacher is tough work. But in the end, the sacrifice is so worth it and I can't imagine doing anything else. My attitude towards whatever this year and this profession might hand me is "bring it on." Education is one of the most rewarding professions, and it's amazing to me that I even get a paycheck each month for doing something that I love. 

A friend shared a great article that gives you some insight into the fiscal challenges we face, while maintaining a structured and balanced classroom for each student that walks through our door: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-herman-class-size-20110731,0,3910343.story

Have a great Labor Day everyone! We're bringing on this lesson planning this weekend... :)
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Your attitude is your choice

During our first day of in-service training yesterday, we opened our morning meetings with this video. We had no background information on it, and only those who had heard this name before knew what the story was about. 

I wanted to share it with you, because of how much it gripped my heart and convicted me as both a human and as an educator.

When roadblocks are in front of us and dead-ends are all around, defending the truth and never giving up on hope should be the foundation that keeps us moving forward. God has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us, and forgiving one another can be one of the most freeing gifts we can give ourselves and others.

I've taken away from this video how much our attitude affects our circumstances. How there are things in life we just can't control, but what we can control is how we respond to them. How integrity and strong character are worthy of protecting, and how we should never label anyone with anything, regardless of how things might appear.

Enjoy. 


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Loveliness {a belated 5 Things Friday}

I missed 5 Things Friday!!

I can't believe it. 

The crazy-busy life of the Love household has officially commenced effective 8am this morning, as all teachers in the state reported back to work. Between lesson planning this past week, shooting a wedding, traveling to the coast and editing photos, last week's blog posting took an {unplanned} vacation. 

This morning's drive into my first day of school at a brand new school in a brand new district had me thinking of all of the things that I consider to be just lovely. I was driving through the scenic Scholls farm country, passing dewey wheat fields and a misty sky. The morning light was peeking through the clouds, and the corn stalks were taking height. I'm totally blessed that I can just cruise on autopilot to work and drive by God's Creation instead of being trapped in a gridlocked corridor (sorry I-84 commuters...)

I also have been spending tedious time editing my dear and wonderful friend Michael Sleigh's wedding (check out our "Our Story" page for more on Michael's importance in our life!) from this weekend. To say I was blessed to be the photographer for their wedding is an understatement. 

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I have just been surrounded by lovely things all weekend long. Therefore, in no particular order, 5 of the loveliest things I have observed over these past few days:

1. The way the groom greatfully, adoringly and with humility looked on his bride walking down the aisle towards him. It is one of the most precious things I have ever seen (and get to see each time I'm capturing a wedding). 

2. A symbolic act of servanthood, where the groom and his bride washed eachother's feet gently and tenderly in the stream behind their ceremony site. They kneeled before one another, prayed over one another, and had a beautiful moment of privacy before they became man and wife. 

3. The way the scent of dew and grass permeated through the crisp air this morning as I drove with the windows down on rural roads during sunrise.

4. Being surrounded by trees on all sides of us driving from Tillamook to Willamina on highway 22. Rustic cabins, bubbling rivers, small churches and vast forests swept up our car and we soaked in the warm sunlight with the windows down. Thirty minutes of paradise and fresh air.
5. Meeting all of my fellow staff members at my new school today-- the people I will go to for support, that I will partner with as we teach our students, and that share the same passion for this profession that I do. It's humbling to be a part of this new school, and a privilege to call these guys my colleagues. I'm looking forward to a fantastic year as we partner together for our students.

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Participating in Promises

This past Sunday in church, the guest speaker, AJ Swoboda, spoke about participating in promises. 

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All throughout the Bible, God makes promises to His people-- and every single promise that He makes comes to fruition. 

However, something poignant that we don't often think about is that all of God's promises are participatory. 

Participatory?

If you think about it, the promises God makes are the ones He can fulfill only through action and trust. You've all heard the saying, "You can't drive a parked car..." That's exactly how it is with God. 

God doesn't make things appear out of thin air, or money fall down from the sky. That would be nice for sure, but it doesn't work that way. God works when we say, "Okay- I know you've promised to protect and provide for your people, those who love you, so I'm going to act on that." That might be getting off the couch and searching for a job. That might mean seeking counsel from others on a situation you don't know how to handle. That might mean working really hard in school to graduate from college and have  more doors open. That might mean healing a relationship where you take the first step in humility. That might mean seeking God in prayer and pouring out the desires of your heart before him. It could mean anything depending on your life situation, but all of those things require action.

We have to be participatory in the promises that God makes towards us. We have to trust Him in what He says about His people (that first of all, He will never leave us or forsake us - Hebrews 13:5), but then move forward in faith to see those blessings poured out on us. When God promised to protect Noah from the flood, Noah had to first go out and spend years building the ark as God asked him to. 

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I've totally seen God's faithfulness in my life play out this way,  even when I didn't know where to walk (or even have the strength to). Somehow, I picked each foot up and let God move me. It's amazing to look back on my life and see so many answers to prayers and so much faithfulness when I didn't even come close deserving it. (Actually, let's be honest-- I never do!)

If we're not moving forward, God cannot direct our footsteps.
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Vacation's over

Trust me. I'm not complaining that today is my last official day of summer vacation, because I realize that we're ridiculously fortunate to have summers off. 

I have no clue what this new school year is going to bring. I'm excited, but freaked. Prepared, but definitely not. Confident, but insecure. Me = a paradox of various emotions. 

Teaching is an incredible profession, and I think what makes me the most insecure each year is how responsible I am for the lives within my classroom walls. "My kids," as I'll affectionately call them through the school year. I'll celebrate birthdays, choir performances, lacrosse matches, football games, school plays and band concerts. I'll run into them at the grocery store or in the neighborhood, connect with new parents and get to know each and every individual idiosyncrasy that my students have.


I wonder what my challenges are going to be this year. 
I wonder what my successes will be. 
I wonder who my hard ones will be, and how we'll work together. 
I wonder who is going to experience the most growth and how they'll get there. 
I wonder who I'm going to laugh about with the kind of appreciation only a teacher could have. 
I wonder what mistakes I'm going to make. 
I wonder what I'm going to celebrate. 
I wonder what I'll learn about myself. 
I wonder what I'll discover about what it means to be a teacher.
I have my bulletin boards up, my first week of lesson plans, my popsicle sticks written, my birthday cards made, my desks set up and my notebooks and comp books arranged. 


However, no amount of planning ahead can prepare you for the moment when the bell rings, and 35 teenagers walk into your room, sit down, and trust you to be responsible for them and their education for nine months. If you think jumping out of an airplane is an adrenaline rush, try teaching. 
It honestly is such a privilege, and I'm totally excited for what this new year is going to bring.  

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For serious?

So we just adopted the best cat in the world, Davey. He's the perfect addition to our family and I absolutely love him. I've had cats my entire life and missed having one of my own...


So, Davey jumped up on our bed the first night and we let him sleep there because we knew he was probably lonely and missed his family. 

I personally liked having him sleep on the bed because it reminded me of when all of my siblings and I would get on our parents' bed which we called "the boat," when we watched TV at night. Me, Timothy and Davey. Happy little family. 

So I'm loving this cat and all, letting it crawl on our faces and kiss us and sleep at the foot of our bed, lovin' being a cat owner, lovin' our little new friend, when all of a sudden, I find out that supposedly I'm not "allowed" to let my cat on my bed. That apparently, besides flushing cat poop down the toilet because it supposedly kills sea lions (sorry sea lions for my 48 hour transgression... I didn't know...), you're not supposed to let you cat sleep on your bed, cuddle you or kiss you. Why? Because it can pass on supposed parasitic viruses and bacteria, give you "cat scratch fever," or some other ailment because cats are apparently toxic creatures. 

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????


What has this world come to if we can't even love on our own cats. 

I'm supposed to now add this to the check-list of things I'm not supposed to do in life:

  • Do not eat foods with MSG
  • Do not eat foods with high fructose corn syrup
  • Do not buy shampoos that have sulfates
  • Only buy paraben-free lotions and soaps
  • Do not buy plastics with BPA
  • Do not microwave plastics
  • Do not stand close to a microwave
  • Do not hold a cell phone up to my ear for extended periods of time
  • Only buy local produce (but even those strawberries recently had e.coli recalls... hmmmmm....)
  • Do not use bug spray with DEET
  • Do not use too much hand sanitizer, but use some hand sanitizer, and use it before meals, but don't use it too often...
  • Do not flush cat poop down the toilet (but apparently dog poop is okay?)
  • Do not have fun
  • Worry about all the things I'm not supposed to do
  • Worry about if there's something that I'm forgetting I'm not supposed to do
  • Worry about if I'm doing something that I'm not supposed to be doing, that will really turn back into something I should be doing

I'm honestly wondering at what point does it stop. Or continue. Or what's the point? Are we so afraid of something terrible happening to us that we live our lives in avoidance for the next fifty years of things that could possibly harm us? There's times I appreciate being informed and educated, but times when I'm frustrated and prefer the ignorance. I want to cuddle my cat at the foot of our bed and let him sniff our faces. I want to eat out and not wonder whether the beverage I'm enjoying has high fructose corn syrup. I want to drink a bottle of water and not have to worry if it has BPA in it. But can I?

Who should I be frustrated about with all of these "dont's?" The producers? The media? The advocates? Myself for giving into their worries? Probably me. I want to be responsible, informed and practical, but I also want to live life with out inhibitions or fears. Telling me I can't let my cat hang out nearby or that I have to wash my hands after petting him for fear of parasitic infections is just really the last straw, people. 

I'm sorry that this particular post is a rant of my quanderies, but I'd love some practical insights on how to proceed in life with caution tape all around, while being conscientious, informed, responsible, uninhibited and not being worried if my food falls on the floor (10 second rule?), thankyouverymuch.
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5 Things Friday: Fashion

So I don't know about you, but I love me a good fashion deal any day of the week. 

I'm unabashedly (and to my husband's sigh) a Nordstrom girl. There are times and places for Nordy's shopping though (anniversary sale, half-yearly, The Rack), and while I loooooooove it there, I don't frequently indulge. 

What I do enjoy that's less guilt-inducing is a good deal. For us teachers, saving money is essential. For us girls, shopping is, too. :)

Therefore, this Five Things Friday post is dedicated to the 5 best deals around right now, just in time for back-to-school fashion. 

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1. Old Navy's Jean Sale

I'm not sure how long the sale is continuing for, but if you need jeans and are browsing online right now, they have an amazing sale on their new jean collections (close to half off!) I picked up an adorable pair of trouser jeans yesterday and LOVE how flattering they are. Old Navy makes short, regular and long sizes, so for my short frame they just barely brush the middle of my shoe. They're also dark enough that they look classy with any blouse or collared shirt for work. In fact, for tonight only, Old Navy has an additional 25% off coupon for jeans (use code "ONSECRET25") and you can save even more money on skinny jeans, boot leg, regular fit and trousers before this weekend. 

2. Gap's Jean + Tops Sale

Enter the code "Gap40" online, and any pair of GAP jeans or tops found on this page are 40% off this week! I'm going to order this adorable vest in pink after I'm done writing this post! 

 
 
 3. J.Crew's Everything Sale

Right now on jcrew.com they're having an everything's-on-sale sale. LOVE it. I normally can't really afford to shop at J.Crew, (thankfully J.Crew outlet is close by!) but this sale rocks. 

I'm going to order the Heathered Playa Skirt in "Carnival Blossom" found below. Perfect for the fall and pairing with a cute pair of flats or a long belted cardigan. Love the price!

 
 
4. Anthropologie's Sale Collection
 
If you love Anthropologie but not so much the price like I do, their ever-evolving sale selection is worth browsing. They have everything on sale on a rotating basis from sweaters to lamps to blankets to dresses. I'm drooling over this Sky Stories dress on sale below, paired with cute brown flats and a cream patterned cardigan.
 
 
 
5. Shop it To Me
 
So Shop it To Me isn't exactly a department store, but if you are a lover of designer clothes but not so much the designer price, this might be your new favorite find. How it works is that you sign up to receive their email notifications, but those emails are custom tailored to your needs. You fill out a form that lists your sizes in everything, your preferred brands, your top prices you're willing to pay for things, and on Tuesday and Fridays, they send you all of the current sales online for those clothing items you like at the price you want. For instance, I found a great pair of Seven skinny jeans on sale for $59 a couple of weeks ago in my size at Bloomingdales.com! They list designer shoes, clothing, home items, etc., all at a fraction of what their retail cost is. It's worth a look! 
 
 
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Let me know what great deals you find!!
 

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