Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My Halloween Costume: Ms. Grouchy Pants


So, while all the children are out getting into their costumes and trick-or-treating and enjoying this wonderful holiday, guess what I've been doing all day?

Staying home sick from work.

I've had this nasty cold/cough for a week now, and after a particularly stressful day at the school yesterday, I decided that I needed to just take a day off so I could kick this sickness once and for all (and so Ms. Grouchy Pants could go back to where she belonged).

I am happy to report that after 12 hours of sleep last night, I am feeling considerably less grouchy and much more happy about passing out treats to the kids tonight.

Of course, if it's anything like last year, I'll also be enjoying quite a few of those treats myself when I only get a total of 3 trick-or-treaters.

Happy Halloween, indeed!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All


*It is Halloween tomorrow, and I have no plans to dress up (although we can at my school). I did, however, "dress up" for Pajama Day  yesterday. Seriously--Best. Idea. Ever. Of course, I was seriously considering searching out some pillows and a blanket during prep to take a little snooze, but what do you do?

*Yesterday I was grading my students' first attempts at writing an argument essay, and I bust up laughing so hard when one of my students actually wrote in the conclusion of her essay, "What now!" to rub in  her point. Awesome.

*I'm already counting down 'til Thanksgiving Break. I seriously can't wait. I pretty much have turkey dreams every night now.

*I've been sick for almost a week now with a pesky cold, which has since developed into a very mucus-y cough. Each day when I wake up, I think how I should call in a sub. And each day, I drag myself out of bed because it's way too much work to make a sub plan, and I just don't want to take the time (plus yesterday I got a special treat in recognition because I hadn't taken off any days yet from school, and now I feel like I have some kind of reputation to keep up). My poor students. I was so grouchy  yesterday that I was almost growling at them to be quiet. And then I was correcting this girl's test who's in my 5th hour, and one of her sentences that she'd written as an example said that I was her favorite teacher because I was so nice to everyone all the time. Then I just felt guilty.

*Pretty much I can be controlled by guilt. Anyone else the same way?

*I am positively addicted to the Sea Salt Caramel flavor of ice cream that Private Selections puts out (at Smith's). Seriously--everyone has to try it. It's pretty much the most delicious flavor of store-bought ice cream that exists. And I had some last night :)

*K, the current season of Big Bang Theory? Freaking hilarious. I think it's one of the funniest seasons yet. Has anyone else been following it?

*I'm at the school now (it hasn't started yet), and one of my students just came in and told me he's going to be a proctologist for Halloween. These kids kill me. They just kill me.

*I'm starting a couple new projects that I'm excited to blog about. But if I tell you now, they won't be a surprise. And we just can't have that. What have you been working on in your life lately?

Monday, October 29, 2012

A "Hoot"enanny Halloween Party


Each year, my mom puts on the party of the year right before Halloween, each with a different spooky theme. This year's theme?

Owls.

How cute is that?

And how awesome are these cupcakes?!

Amazing.



We started off the festivities by making owl decorations out of cupcake liners and toilet paper rolls (and by we, I mean the kids, because everyone knows I'm the least crafy in our very artsy family).


 Afterwards, we enjoyed a delicous lunch of chili, caramel apples, and these darling owl rolls (which are made from slicing storebought crescent rolls into tiny swirls, sticking them together, and putting M&M's and pretzels on for the features).


Finally, we finished off the fun by reading some spooky stories, smacking the candy right out of a catty pinata, and enjoying a LOT of sugar.




Even this little skeleton buddy below had a good time!

Thanks Mom--your annual Halloween party is always the best bash around!


Friday, October 26, 2012

Koolaid Legs & the First Snowfall of the Year

 

See?
 
I told you I would post a picture of my superhero alter-ego:
 
Ms. Kool-Aid Legs herself.
 
And yes, this is what I wore the day of the first snowfall this winter.
 
Ms. Kool-Aid is uber-practical, isn't she?
 
I mean really--who WASN'T wearing electric blue tights and stilettos when the storm first hit?
 
For the weekend, Kool-Aid Legs is probably going to hit up a corn maze with the hubby, catch a family Halloween party, and try to get over this nasty cold that suddenly hit her
during 6th hour on Wednesday.
 
What are your superhero weekend plans?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Here's What's Cooking . . . Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread


So I just had to share this with you--I mean, it's only the most delicious pumpkin bread recipe ever, and you know I love you, right? Plus, there's just nothing that makes a frosty autumn afternoon better than a hot loaf of pumpkin bread with a cold mug of milk.

You're welcome.

And enjoy :)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (from The Food Nanny Rescues Dinner)

1 cup canned pumpkin
2 eggs
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I admit it--I about doubled this!)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease and lightly flour a 9 x 5 x 3 loaf pan.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, sugar and oil.
3. Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and baking powder into a square of waxed paper (or mix in a bowl). Stir into the pumpkin mixture and combine, but do not overmix. Stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake 55-65 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, but not dry. Do not overbake; the bread should be moist.
5. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Turn out onto the rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Still Hating School Pictures at 26


Okay, so my school picture this year isn't the WORST ever (that was my 9th grade picture, which was so bad that my own mother refused to display it in our home). But still, I've always hated school pictures--the awkward tilt of the head, the glassy look of the eyes, the forced smile...

I mean really, if you wanted to truly capture the essence and personality and pizazz of me, I hope and pray that this is not what I would look like.

Ever.

They say that the longer you teach a certain age group, the more you become like that age group.

Is this hating-on-school-pictures-again a bad sign? Am I becoming 13 again?

I need to spend some more time around adults.

And pronto.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All



*So we got pulled over last week because our Mazda's front window had a big ol' crack in it. I didn't even know they pulled over for that kind of thing, especially since it hadn't *quite* reached the driver's side [completely]. But, with fix-it-ticket in  hand, I marched right on over to the car glass place to happily (ha ha) pay my almost $200 bill. Of course, since I had to wait about an hour for it to get installed, and I was right next to the D.I. ANYWAY, I thought I might as well go on a little thrifting trip. And you know what? Even though I usually  never find anything I want, on this trip, I found no fewer than FOUR awesome belts for $1 apiece (including this jazzy little yellow number that I'm wearing above). Car repair stop---a success!

*But let's be honest--even though thrifting is all the rage, it still kind of freaks me out. Even being in the D.I. for just fifteen minutes made me want to go wash my hands or something (which is totally weird, I know, since people are everywhere and touching everything. It's just the thought of all of these objects that have been housed with all those people for YEARS...creepy, right? Maybe I'm just strange). Sometimes I wish I did like thrifting more though because I'm always hearing about all the great deals and seeing all the cute vintage-y finds that people get, and sometimes I get kinda jealous. But just a little.

*Can I just say how AWESOME it was to have a five-day weekend last weekend? Even though all I did for the majority of the weekend was clean the apartment (not an exaggeration), it still was exactly what I needed. The only sad part of my weekend was the fact that Matt was gone for most of it on a Scouting trip. But, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and we both had a VERY awesome Sunday together. So score. Of course, having an awesome weekend definitely made coming into work yesterday about ten times harder than normal than on any other Monday (which is saying something). 

*Speaking of yesterday, I had another kind of rough day at the school. The kind of day that made me come home and muse to my husband whether I should really even be a teacher or not. Some days I really do wonder. I'm interested to see if this whole teaching business is something that I'm going to be willing to stick with for my whole life, or if it's just something I'll try out for a few years and decide it's not worth the stress. We'll see.

*I did come across a quote on Sunday that I LOVE though that's all about teaching. It's by President David O. McKay, and it says, "Teaching is the noblest profession in the world. Upon the proper education of youth depend the permanency and purity of home, the safety and perpetuity of the nation. The parent gives the child an opportunity to live; the teacher enables the child to live well." Isn't that just wonderful? It makes me want to stick it out after all.

*I made this new pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipe last night that was simply divine. So divine, in fact, that I'm going to be using the rest of the leftover canned pumpkin to make it yet again today. Anyone wanna come over and try a sample? I'll let you grade my students' papers for me...

*I'm wearing electric blue tights today. I avoided the colored tights trend for a long time, and now I'm wondering why it took me so long to get on this neon trend train of leg-warming hotness. Pretty much I feel like a superhero. Maybe I'll take a picture and show you later. My name should be Koolaid Legs or something to describe these bluebird wonders that are my calves.

*It was snowing this morning when I went outside to go to work. SNOWING, people. And the worst part? The fact that Logan was pretty much the only place that got snow this morning. Everywhere else got rain. Poopid.

*I don't like snow. Just putting that out there.

*Except on Christmas. And except on days when I don't have to drive and actually have the presence of mind to be able to enjoy the white wonderland feel of it all. Unfortunately, those days don't happen too often.

*What are your thoughts on this snowy Tuesday? Was it snowing where you live? Did you wear electric blue tights today? Do you have a recipe involving pumpkin that I just have to try? Let me know below! I love hearing from you :)


Monday, October 22, 2012

Mini Fall Photo Walk


The other day, I ran across some of the pictures we took last year up at Tony's Grave at about this time of year, and I just kept begging Matt to come out with me to go for another little fall photo walk. Luckily for me, my husband is a very obliging man (even when he's had a long day).

Since we didn't have very much time, we just drove a little ways up Logan Canyon and decided to stop wherever the mood struck.

So, in no particular order, here are just a few of our favorites from that afternoon spent in autumn heaven:








Friday, October 19, 2012

The Red Pants Made Me Do It


When colored jeans started to become all the rage, I did some serious soul-searching about whether or not I could really hop on that particular trend train.

I mean, hello-80s-flashbacks just kept floating around in my brain to haunt me with their AquaNet hairdos and stirrup pants. It looked like my willpower was all set to win this particular clothing battle.

And then Old Navy had a sale. A really GOOD sale. The kind of sale that made me wait in line for almost an hour to purchase my huge armload of finds.

And now I'm the [proud] owner of red pants.

And p.s. They totally make me feel like I can get away with anything. Which was probably why I ate almost 7 cookies mere hours after putting them on.

The pants made me do it.

Swear.




Thursday, October 18, 2012

Books #16, 17, & 18: The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Title: The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King)
Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
# of Pages: 1,008
Genre: Classic Fantasy

You might have noticed that I haven't done a book review post in a LOOOONG time. Well, it's because it took me a LOOOONG time to finish this trilogy, and I didn't want to review it until I'd read all three of the books. Like most classic books that I've read, there were moments when I had to force myself to keep reading through all the heavy descriptions and confusing passages; there were also moments when I couldn't put the books down because I couldn't wait to see what happened next. All in all, upon finishing, I felt as I usually do when I finish a classic: really glad that I'd read it, and just a little bit glad to have it over with (but, at the same time, a little sad when the whole experience was over because it meant that I could never have the thrill of reading it for the very first time ever again).

Since I'm assuming that the vast majority of the general population is familiar with the basic storyline due to the monstrous success the movies had, I will defer from putting up a summary of what they're about. But I will say this: now that I've read this whole series, I'm REALLY disappointed with the way they ended the third movie because they cut out one of the AWESOMEST parts of the whole trilogy. I mean, the movie was already over three hours long--what would an extra half an hour have hurt?

Although Tolkien can often get wordy and completely bogged down with seemingly endless descriptions of landscapes, the trilogy is, overall, a must-read--not only is it some of the most fantastically imagined and executed fantasy writing of all time, it also has a lot of intellectual meat to it that will keep you pondering long after the last page has been read.

My Rating: 4.5 stars

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My First 5K


So I know the way that MOST people do races is that they start small (like a 5K) and then work their way up.

Well, I've never been one to follow the mainstream, so I first completed my marathon in April, and then I figured I'd be pretty prepared for whatever other race came my way.

Of course, since doing my marathon, my running routine has been, well, almost nonexistent, but that still didn't prevent me from signing up for the Red Ribbon Week 5K announced at my school (which, conveniently, was located much closer to my home than my school is).


Even though my work week had been particularly difficult, I was still looking forward to running in another race. All I could think about was the excitement I felt when I started the marathon and heard everyone shouting and cheering, and the great sense of accomplishment I felt when I took the last step of those 26.2 miles.

Well, although the 5K wasn't QUITE as awesome as the marathon, it still was a lot of fun, and what made it especially fun was that I didn't have to run for 4.5 hours--I only had to run for 30 minues.

Score.


But there were two things I loved the very most about it:

1) It put me back into running territory (which I have seemingly been avoiding for the past 6 months), and
2) I got a medal.

Happy running days are here again, folks. I will (hopefully) be starting up a more regular running routine very shortly thanks to this little 5K here.

AND,

 I now have TWO medals hanging on my bedroom lamp.


Nothing like a race to make me feel like a champ again :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All


*First off, thanks for all the support after yesterday's post! Something I've discovered in the past year about myself is that I am really sensitive to negative criticism about my work performance (surprisingly, I'm not too sensitive at all when it comes to constructive criticism), so this whole ordeal at work has been really stressful for me. (Is anyone else the same way? Or am I just way too thin-skinned?) But it makes a BIG difference knowing that I have so many people who believe in me, so THANK YOU!

*Today is my last day of work for this week since we're going to be on fall break starting tomorrow. I'm so excited I could just cry! Of course, Matt has a scout trip half the weekend, so we don't get to see each other hardly...but hey, think of all the reading time I'm going to have! (Not to mention all the housekeeping time, which I'm not quite as excited about.)

*This morning, the tag at the side of my cardigan was really bugging me, so I tried ripping it out with my hands . . . and I totally ripped this huge gaping hole in my cardiage. Oops.

*Some of the students who have regularly been coming to my ballroom dancing class here at school have been asked to perform in an assembly today. It should be pretty, well, interesting since I only found out about it on Friday, and we only had 20 minutes on Friday to come up with anything. Luckily the kids will make up in enthusiasm what they lack in rhythm and/or dance moves.

*Saturday I ran my first 5K (hence the above picture), which I'll be posting about tomorrow. Can I just say that I really miss being able to run several times a week? I never thought I'd ever say that, but I think it's really official--I've become a runner this year!

*On Sunday, we were invited over to our friends' house, and they served French bread pizza--basically just tomato sauce, shredded cheese, and various pizza toppings sprinkled over French bread that was cut in half and baked in the oven for 15 minutes. Hello?! How have I not thought of this yet? I think it's become the new favorite in our house.

*There is the most massive pile of dirty laundry in our bedroom right now. I mean, I know i'm bad at doing laundry regularly, but this just goes to show that I have reached all-new heights on my not-doing-laundry-ness. It's like a freaking mountain is being born on my carpet. You know it's bad when Matt notices and offers to do something about it...what a guy, huh? He's so great :)

*So last week when I went to donate plasma (yes, I still do that--I couldn't give up the extra $55 a week!), I had to be sent back out to the lobby 4 times because my pulse was too high. I've always had a pretty high pulse (around 86 normally), but every time I was going in to test it to see if I could donate, it was always above the limit of 100 (once it was even 109! Sitting down!). Of course, when I would go back in to re-test, I would be paranoid about it being high, which meant it WAS too high again...sigh. It was a viscious cycle. Lucky for me, I passed both times on the final attempt they were allowed to give me (after having waited nearly an hour extra). I really need to learn to not stress out so much.

*Despite all the stress of having to deal with this whole student's parent ordeal, I'm looking forward to a great week ahead and hope that I can just put this all behind me. What do you do when you're trying to get something off your mind or to get over something? Got any advice?

Monday, October 15, 2012

What To Do When a Parent Tries To Get You Fired


So for all you teachers or would-be teachers who have asked yourself the question, "What should I do if an angry parent of one of my students tries to get me fired?",

I have the answer.

When a parent writes to your principal detailing 8 reasons why you're an ineffective teacher, here's what you do:

You slather on some bright fuchsia lipstick to put a little extra bounce back into your step

and

You make a chocolate pie.

(That is, of course, after you spend your prep hour crying and freaking out. Just to clarify.)



It also didn't hurt that this little gem from my buddy Aristotle came to my mind:

"To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."

So, although the weekend didn't get off to the best start, a big THANK YOU to the Barruses for saving me with a way fun Pie Night!

Oh, and in case you're worried, I am not being fired. Just FYI.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Breaking Point: Overcoming Doubt & Obstacles



A couple weeks ago, I wrote all about the power of focus when it comes to reaching goals. Since I felt like I was focusing on too many goals at once, I needed to learn how to narrow down my focus so as to maximize my return.

But one thing I quickly realized (as I'm sure most people do once they start really going for something) is that there are ALWAYS obstacles that come up: financial trouble, criticism, not seeing results quickly enough, self-doubt...the list could go on and on.

And, if you seem to be just about at breaking point (much like I was at parent-teacher conferences), then hopefully some of these thoughts can apply to you.

But let me preface with what actually went on the other night.

Tuesday was my first round of parent-teacher conferences as a "real" teacher. I set up shop in the farthest corner of the gym (hoping people would forget about me way in the back and thus not be tempted to come over and yell at me), and I tried to prepare myself mentally for the next four and a half hours.

A brief summary: I met with many, MANY parents (yes, I was THAT teacher--the one with the eternally long line), and I had to explain over and over and over again what each test meant, what the problem was (if there was one), and how it could be fixed. I would say that easily 90% of these conferences were pleasant encounters, with some parents even going so far as to show appreciation for the work I'm putting in.

But, because I'm human, what did I go home thinking about last night?

That 10% that didn't go so hot.

Like that mother who was fighting me for almost 10 minutes straight on a department policy that I very much agree with, and who was so frustrated by the end, she just looked at her son and said, "Well, next time just fail the first test. It will work out more in your favor that way."

Yes, it would seem that our human nature has programmed us to focus on the storm clouds.

I went home so upset Tuesday night from the stress of such a long day that I vowed I had to change something before the next night of parent-teacher conferences so that I wouldn't go crazy. You want to know the only two things I changed (which made me MUCH happier the next night)?

#1: I focused on the 90% of positive encounters I had instead of focusing all my energy on the negative ones. I gave the more frazzled parents the benefit of the doubt instead of condemning them for what seemed to me slightly crazy behaviors, and I tried to bring my attention back to the compliments I'd received rather than just the criticism.

As always, General Conference came at the perfect time, with many of the messages seeming to be directed right at me and my current situation in life, like this one from President Monson:

"[I]t is sometimes difficult to view the problems . . .around us and not become discouraged. I have found that, rather than dwelling on the negative, if we will take a step back and consider the blessings in our lives, including seemingly small, sometimes overlooked blessings, we can find greater happiness."

So the first step to take when you're feeling discouraged: address the positive--that way you can have the strength of mind and the positive will to continue to go onward and look for solutions.

#2: Since there were legitimate problems that came up with the way I was doing my instruction, I did need to address them. So what did I decide to do? Basically exactly what I did for my students who were struggling--I identified the positives first and then the problem, discussed ways I could address the problem (with the parents, with the other Language Arts teachers, and with the principal), and I came up with a plan to implement new strategies into my teaching. Basically, I had to tell myself what I am alwayis telling my students: when you're doing something worthwhile, it's okay not to get it perfect the first time or the second time or even the eighth or hundredth time--the important thing is that you keep persisting at it until you've mastered it.

Obviously, the ability to persist and problem-solve takes a lot of ingenuity, not to mention patience. A couple things to note:

*Motivational author Napoleon Hill said, "The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail." Notice that he did not say that failure comes from not having success on your first try--rather, he said that failure comes when you give up making up new strategies (in other words, when you give up problem-solving). Not losing that weight you vowed you would have shed by now? Change your strategy for losing it. Not reaching your financial goals to get out of debt? Change your strategy of making/spending your money.

*Often, we ourselves are unable to think of all the possibilities for new strategies because we are too embedded in the situation. That is why it's so important to ask outside of ourselves to come up with the most comprehensive list of possible solutions.

So, when you're feeling discouraged (as we all will at some point anytime we're trying to achieve something worthwhile), try these two simple strategies:

1- Make a list of the positives and what has been going well, and
2- Come up with new solutions for the problems you face (don't be afraid to ask around for help), and then implement the new strategies with persistence and patience until you've found one that works.

Like everyone, I struggle with doubt and disappointment at times, especially when it comes to becoming an effective teacher. This week I was particularly frustrated because I had more than double the number of students in remediation as the other two Language Arts teachers did, and a part of me just wanted to throw my hands up in despair and give up on either myself or the students.

Instead, I made myself do these exact two steps, and after reviewing the positives and talking to one of the other teachers about what she was doing, I felt much more equipped to re-face the problem, and I'm happy to report that so far, my new strategies seem to be working well (not perfectly, but better).

What problems have you faced lately while going for your goals? How did you overcome them? Or what new solutions are you thinking of trying?



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All


*Matt and I finally made it back down to Bountiful this weekend, which meant we got to see all the new BABIES in the family! Here I am holding a picture of little Bode, the fourth addition to my sister's family. Good thing I'm not the type to get baby hungry because they are pretty gosh darn cute!

*One thing I love about heading to our childhood home? The plethora of home-cooked food that I didn't have to make myself. During the priesthood session of General Conference (a special meeting in our church that's just for the men), I got together with all the women in Matt's family and had a fun chat about first kisses and falling in love with Meidell boys over ribs and lettuce wraps. And on Sunday, we enjoyed a traditional ham and potatoes feast while we discussed our favorite talks from General Conference and caught up with each other's lives. These are good times, friends. Good times.

*The other best part of going home? The fact my stepdad bought us our own brick of the extra-sharp Tillamook cheese. We are such cheese snobs, but we don't have the money to live up to it all the time. So thanks, Scott! We'll try to make it last longer than a week this time :)

*I have parent-teacher conferences tonight, and I'm more than a little terrified. I mean, I already had one parent come in and question everything I was doing in the class, and this time, I'll be trapped in the gym for 4 hours tonight and 3 more tomorrow with nothing to barricade me from the hoards of swarming parents wondering why their kids are failing my class...

*The answer? Because their kid spaces out half of the time and is bugging his neighbor the other half. That, and I'm a ridiculously tough grader. True story.

*Yesterday I sent two kids to the principal's office for the first time. I had been trying to put off severe discipline for as long as possible, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. So there you go--I am now on at least two students' hit lists. Does this mean I won't get voted Most Favoritest Teacher now?

*I am running my first 5k on Saturday. I've kind of signed up for it on a whim, but I'm pretty excited. What makes it even better? The fact that I might be racing against some of my own students, since it's a 5k for Red Ribbon Week. I had several of my boy students challenge me and even trash talk a little, but I think I should smoke 'em. At the very least, they were left in fear as I reminded them that I was a marathon runner. (Of course, I didn't mention that the marathon was 6 months ago and I've barely run since. Ha ha ha.)

*I got a bunch of tomatillos from a fellow teacher--does anyone know how to cook them?

*We get a few days off of school next week for fall break, and I am like a 6-year-old waiting until Christmas. I'm already dreaming of what it will be like to take bathroom breaks whenever I want...

*What's going on in your life?

Monday, October 8, 2012

Round 2 of the Cleopatra Hair

 It was clear to me after I started to reach the stage of "oh-my-gosh-I-hate-how-thick-my-hair-is" that I needed to schedule my usual 6-month hair appointment.

Usually on these six-month appointments, I go with something drastically different than the time before so I won't get bored.

But this time, I did the unthinkable--I actually got pretty much the same haircut I did six months previously (gasp!).

Except this time, I just kept on the extra 3 inches I'd gained.

Here's to not hating my hair anymore!
And here's to me practicing for picture retakes, which were this morning.

(Just kidding--I didn't make a kissy face. But I probably should have because it would have turned out better than what I did do, which was smile awkwardly as my head got tilted unnaturally far to the side and left.)

And p.s.--it was almost just as funny this time around to see my students' reaction to my hair as it was last time. I even had one brave (boy) student say that he thought I would look "really good as a blonde."

Ha ha.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Thoughts On My 25th Year

(Me as Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile--the last noteworthy accomplishment of my 25th year)

Even though I never said it on here, on my last birthday, I was determined to make my 25th my best year yet. And maybe it was because I kicked it off with marathon training, but I really have felt that 25 was the age of accomplishments.

To recap, when I was 25 . . .

*I ran my first-ever marathon (and in just over 4.5 hours, no less!)
*I ran my first under-8-minute mile (not on the marathon)
*I quit the job I hated
*I successfully completed (and loved!) student teaching
*I graduated from college
*I finally read Great Expectations, the unabridged Count of Monte Cristo, and the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy (which have all been on my to-read list forever, but which had seemed too daunting to attempt before)
*I got called as the president of the Young Women's organization (not that I count this as an accomplishment--just something that happened)
*I finally learned how to do genaeology and family history work--something I've intended to do forever but didn't start until this year
*I started practicing violin again
*Even though I don't know how to prove this with a solid fact (although I could prove it with a product!), I'm positive that my cooking skills have really taken off in the past 12 months
*After diligently searching and applying and interviewing, I got 3 excellent teaching job offers (a far cry from my job search from the year before)
*I started my first year of teaching
*I started saving diligently for retirement
*I became a ballroom dance instructor (and even though it's just at the middle school, it's always been a dream of mine--so boo yah!)

I think it will be hard to top all that in the upcoming year, but that's not to say I'm not expecting great things--in fact, I'm convinced that life just keeps getting better and better. One good thing about getting older is that as I age, I feel more capable of rising to meet life's challenges and of setting (and reaching!) higher and higher goals.

Here's to another great year ahead!

What are your plans for the age you are at?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Tuesday Tell-All


*I am just itching to go out on a fall walk, what with all the trees changing and all. Someone want to come teach for me so I can have a break?

*Actually, I'm getting my first sub tomorrow, since I'll be heading down south for a training all day. I'm a little nervous--I've already told my students that they'd all better be on their best behavior, but I could just see the wicked little gleam in some of their beady eyes the second I said, "Sub." The small break will be kinda nice though, I won't lie.

*All the other teachers were sitting around in the faculty room during lunch yesterday and marveling at how much weight they'd all gained since the school year started. I kept my mouth shut because I've actually been steadily LOSING weight; it's about the only positive thing about being so stressed out all the time, actually--I have no appetite.

*Since I got some fun money to spend for my birthday, I went right out and bought six new movies, one of which was John Tucker Must Die (which I actually had owned previously, but which was stolen from me by a neighboring apartment although I can't remember by whom). I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: even though that movie is one of the most ridiculous movies ever made, it's definitely in my top 5 for best guilty-pleasure movies. Watching it again last night for the first time in a few years just made my heart do a little happy jig. What guilty-pleasure movies do you love?

*Today in creative writing, I made my class write odes to one of their favorite objects. Some of them were stinker-ish about it (because a lot of them claim they hate poetry or are terrified by it), but I thought it would be fun. See?

Ode to John Tucker Must Die

Plastic wrap ripped
Clean off
The second I get home
Shiny disk
shimmering
In the
gluttonous light
of a
Walmart
bulb.
How I've longed for you,
Tale of heartbreak
and
Revenge,
That tickles my eyes
And makes me wish
that I had spent
$9.99
A lot sooner.

*I mean, awesome. Right?

*Okay, I know I'm weird. And that, my friends, is why I became an English teacher. To keep up with the stereotypes and all.

*One of my fellow Language Arts teacher brought me in a whole case of Dr. Pepper today as a late birthday gift. Happy day, indeed!

*I went running the other day for the first time in a couple months. I was so worried that I would have lost all the running ability I had gained from training (and doing) the marathon, but, ta-da! Apparently my body is a lot cooler than I give it credit for: I easily went the 3.5 miles and could have kept on going. Now why hasn't my body always been like this?

*Theory: maybe my body is like this now because it feels like it gets put through a mental marathon every day at school, since I have to watch over and teach 150 kids and all. I think that's a valid hypothesis.

*Today I was using a murder mystery to help my kids learn argument writing, and the principal came in unannounced and watched part of the lesson. I didn't know whether to be glad that he came in on a day when we were doing something creative or worried that he came in and heard me talking about a drunk man being murdered by his vengeful wife. Hmmm...

*Awkward story of the day: so as the prompt for my creative writing class, I told my students they needed to list 10 things they really loved and then describe one of them in great detail using sensory details for all five senses. Well, one of my students happened to choose me as one of her things, and then she proceeded to share (during sharing time) her VERY detailed description of me. I don't blush very often, but I was definitely feeling my face get pretty heated during the whole thing, just because it made me realize that my students really do pay a LOT of attention to everything I do/say/wear/etc. Of course, it didn't help that when she came to the part about what I tasted like and after her saying, "I don't really want to think about it" [awkward enough], another girl pipes up, "I bet Mr. Meidell could tell us all what she tastes like." I mean, honestly--middle schoolers! They really are just figuring out the social conventions, one day at a time...

*Yikes.

*If all goes well, I'll finally be getting my hair done again this weekend. I pretty much can't wait.

*Anyway, my handsome hubby (who apparently knows what I taste like) has just made me some delicious, steaming-hot waffles, which I am about to devour in about 2.5 seconds.

*What awkward stories have been happening in your life?


Monday, October 1, 2012

This Is What Turning 26 Looks Like



Turning 26 looks like:

*Trying out a new-to-us Mexican restaurant when my sister and brother-in-law come into town


*Getting new white USU shirts to show our Aggie pride


*Watching our beloved Aggies stomp UNLV


*Spending time with the man I love (who got me that new season of Big Bang Theory I've been just dying to get).

Not pictured:

*Playing Settlers of Catan until way too late because it's not often we have enough people to play with
*Gorging ourselves on Aggie ice cream (the BEST ice cream in the world, next to Leatherby's)
*Opening up presents every day for three days (Big Bang, a magazine rack for the bathroom--which is more for Matt's sanity than anything else, and my very own yoga mat)
*Getting showered with love from my 7th graders as they filed in with Diet Dr. Pepper, assorted chocolate bars, and handwritten notes/cards. And don't forget all the impromptu singings of Happy Birthday. Birthdays are a BIG DEAL to 13-year-olds. Even their teacher's.
*Buying no fewer than SIX dvd's with some of my birthday money
*Feeling how very loved I am by my family, friends, neighbors, and students. I feel so blessed to have you all in my life!

Thanks for a great birthday :)
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