Saturday, May 31, 2014

Things I Wanted to Say to my Students Yesterday (But Didn't)

cartoon via 

For anyone who's been living in a cave somewhere in the desert, the end of school has come and gone (for a lot of school districts anyway). So while I was getting ready to finally leave the school last night at 8 PM (the students had all gone home at 11:30), I had some time to myself to think about all the unsaid things burning in my brain that I'd managed to refrain from saying all year...

Dear Certain (Mostly Male) Students,

Really? You wanted ME to sign your yearbook? Me, the teacher you talked back to, ignored, fought against, and seemingly appeared to absolutely despise with every nerve in your body? Not only am I flabbergasted, but I am honestly racking my brain about what to write: "Good riddance"? "I should warn your teachers for next year"? "I'm sure we'd both be okay never seeing each other again"? "Remember that one time you actually listened in class and actually learned something, and we were both shocked"?

Take your pick.

(For the record, I did NOT write anything close to any of those things. I managed to scrape up at least one positive thing to say to every single student, a feat I probably deserve at least a double scoop ice cream cone for.)

Dear Students Who Loudly Griped About Me & My Class Within Earshot,

I get it--I am a hard teacher. You probably aren't used to teachers actually following up on threats to fail you if you don't write in complete sentences or plagiarize your work. And even though I'm sure it is discouraging to try and fail at something as difficult as writing, it's even more discouraging as a teacher to see you give up altogether, as it forces me to do things like pull you in during lunchtime to finish your work or make sure you come in for extra help (which, as you probably weren't aware, weren't the ways that I wanted to spend my lunch and my free time either).  I really hope that one day, when you're much older and (hopefully) a heck of a lot smarter about things than you are now, you realize what I was trying to teach you and you feel at least a sliver of appreciation. (Of course, you probably won't remember my name by then, but still---as long as you feel the sliver, I'm okay.)

Dear Students Who Dressed All Alike for the Dance & Insisted on Showing Everyone How Fast  (& Provocatively) You Could Shake Your Bums,

Even though I know it's nearly impossible for you to grasp this, there are more important things in life than "being hot" and "selling your sexy." So go change into something more appropriate and respectable, stop watching so many music videos, and reach your potential!

Dear Students Who Got Overshadowed by the Constant Flow of Behavioral Problems from Others:

I'm sorry you got so little attention this year. If it wasn't for you though, I really would have thrown up the white flag and quit teaching forever. I was always amazed at how much you managed to learn amidst my yelling comments like, "Stop doing that!" or "We don't hit people in class" every other minute to the first group of students mentioned above. Just remember, adversity makes you stronger, and you're smart enough that you'll probably never have to work with people like that ever again after a certain point (because sadly, they will probably all have dropped out or landed themselves in jail).

Dear All Students (Frustrating and Delightful, Lazy and Uber-Motivated):

Somehow, despite all the setbacks and problems, I did manage to care about every last one of you (even you stinkers that I sometimes rejoiced at when you were absent). I wasn't lying when I told you all that I see your great potential---from the laziest of the lazy to the brightest of the bright, I saw growth in you all, a fact which makes me proud of being your teacher. Historically, eighth grade seems to be the most difficult for the majority of people, and you will face things and feelings and drama next year like you never believed. Just remember that your public school days are just for a moment, and before you know it, you'll all be adults wrangling with your own kids and jobs and finances, and all the lessons you were supposed to have learned will either be helping you greatly or haunting you for the rest of your lives.

So take your pick----pay the price now to learn what you need to learn, or pay it endlessly later as an adult.

You know my high expectations for you. Now go out and reach them!


Your 7th grade Language Arts teacher (whatever the heck her name was)

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Thoughts on Living In the Same Place

With our moving date settling in ever closer, I've been getting a little nostalgic. Even though we're moving just a few blocks down (less than a mile away), the move is still causing me to reflect on the impact of our decision to stay in this exact apartment for the last three years.

While moving (and any novel activity, really) brings excitement and the stimulation from being surrounded by new things and people, there is a certain beauty to staying in one place for an extended amount of time. It's a quiet beauty, yes, but it's also a comforting, partially hidden, and stable beauty.

If you stay in one place for at least a couple years, allowing yourself to drink in the sights and smells and experiences that surround you, you become privy to certain truths about the area that would remain hidden to the casual observer.

When we first moved into this neighborhood three years and one month ago, I was driving to my new job working as the secretary of a concrete manufacturing plant, and I was dreadfully nervous. As I wound my car along the twisting lane leading me to Main Street, I gasped aloud as I saw the most breathtaking (but unexpected) sight almost hidden in the brush and trees lining the steep slope on my right---

A hillside that was positively filled with hundreds upon hundreds of orange poppies.

Since that first glimpse of the fiery field of poppies, I have since learned to not gasp aloud at what I see when I pass. But I also have studied that hillside each May from both the road and from behind my lens as I seek to capture it in new ways, and my heart thrills when I see the small dots of orange start to flare up because for me, the orange poppy hillside has become synonymous with summer and familiarity and just a little bit of surprise.

And that's the beauty of staying in one place for a long time, really---you get these little glimpses of the secrets that only locals know, and you start to gain an intimacy with the land on which you live. You learn to anticipate the behaviors and sights of what surrounds you, and that anticipation brings both a sense of comfort and excitement as nature brings forth her traditions with each passing year.

Living in one place for a long time has other advantages, too---you gain somewhat of an expertise in the living patterns of your neighbors, the best places to eat in town, the roads to avoid at 5 PM, and what can only be referred to as "the local flavor." Basically, putting down roots for awhile allows you to feel like part of the landscape rather than just an observer of it, and staying for longer still actually makes you an INFLUENCER of the landscape instead of just a casual passerby.

And as I've thought about how things will change when we move in a week, I know that some things will not change much--I know we will still pass the orange poppies and I'll still do my runs on (mostly) the same paths as before, and we'll see pretty much all the same people at church every Sunday. But in moving away, we will lose the familiarity we have gained here, in this particular place, and when we go back to this exact same apartment, it will never be the same. We won't have the neighbor girl coming over nearly every day to borrow our phone or a screwdriver. I won't hear the 7-year-old across the street calling out my name and yelling hi to me as I come into our home. I won't sniff the air perfumed with the constant barbecue being grilled up by my neighbor across the way or see the puppies being trained across the cul-de-sac or be a stone's throw away from the garden we planted last week.

Yes, these things will still exist, and yes, there will be other neighbors to lend things to and other children to say hi to me and other people grilling up corn and steaks on their barbecues.

But it won't be the same as when it happened here.

But the good news is that while it never will be the same, there will be other experiences and sights and comforting traditions--hopefully just as meaningful to us--that will be a part of our lives, wherever we're at.

And that's a beautiful thought, indeed.

Do you like living in the same place for a long time? Or do you like chasing the thrills that come with moving around a lot?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Running Off the Clock: Perks and Pitfalls

Even with the half marathon a few weeks behind me, I've been pleased to find that I'm still motivated enough (or at least conditioned enough) to keep running three times a week. Last Saturday I even ran 7 miles just for the heck of it (and not because my training schedule told me I had to).

While prepping to go out on that run last weekend, I discovered that my Garmin running watch was somehow low on battery despite my having set it up to charge after the previous run (my beef with this particular style of watch's charging mechanism is a rant for another day). So I faced a dilemma--

Go out on my first non-timed run in almost six months and risk not knowing how far I'd gone or how fast I was going?

Or wait a half hour or so while the watch charged and watch uneasily as the sun gets higher (and hotter) in the sky?

Well, due to my absolute dread of sweating unless I absolutely have to, it was a no-brainer, and off I went with nothing touching my arm hairs except a light breeze and the occasional small pollen puff from the blossoming fruit trees.

I hadn't realized how dependent I'd gotten on my Garmin in the short six months I've owned it---I found myself constantly checking my bare wrist, and when I was forced to halt for a minute at stoplights, I had to consciously resist the impulse (many, many times) to reach up and stop the nonexistent timer so my rate would read accurately. It was such a simple thing, leaving the watch at home, but I felt like I was rediscovering running all over again.

When I first started running (which was when I was training for my full marathon two years ago), I never timed myself (or I hardly did anyway). Because I had never been a runner before, the runs had been less about the speed and much more about the fact that I was doing it at all---I still remember the rush of exhilaration and incredulity as I completed my first long run (a 7-miler that exceeded my previous mileages by almost three and a half miles), and with each new distance milestone hit, I was overcome by the simple happiness of just knowing that I'd done a hard thing that many people would never do in their lifetimes. My actual marathon went much the same way: I didn't really have much of a time goal--my goal was simply to finish it without having walked at all. And I did.

But something that non-racers don't grasp is that each race only adds fuel to the fire to want to do MORE, or at least do the same FASTER. I always thought that once I'd checked "run a marathon" off my bucket list, I would go back to running just 2-3 miles at a time, content with the one 26.2-miler I'd completed and content to never run long distances again.

I grossly underestimated myself.

What happened was that I started realizing that opportunities to run races were all around me, and they were offered literally almost anytime I wanted to pay the fee, sign up, and train for one (or not train for it at all). What I also started realizing was that racing provided me with extra motivation to push myself, and push myself hard, when it came to my running regimen.

And when I got the long-coveted GPS running watch for Christmas last December, I feverishly became the kind of runner who logged runs in a journal that recorded the mileage, average speed, overall time, and type of run (as well as any food ingested before or during the run itself). I found myself trying out different speed workouts and judging my runs almost entirely on just two things: if I'd met the mileage I'd set out to meet, and if I'd run it in a reasonably "decent" time according to my training schedule.

There are perks to this kind of methodical training plan--I saw visible proof that I was, indeed, getting faster, and I quickly caught onto certain patterns that allowed me to almost entirely eliminate GI distress during my runs. Additionally, the thought of having to actually enter a mediocre running time/session into my running journal was usually enough to make me just push through the pain and discomfort and lack of motivation and just keep going when the going got rough on the run.

But there was a flip side to my ceaseless calculations, one I didn't recognize until just last Saturday when I innocently went running without my watch:

With time out of the picture, running was FUN again. Without the external pressure of time limits and mapped-out distances, I could go as fast or slow as I wanted and just enjoy the whole thing instead of beating myself up over the fact that I was averaging a 10:05 mile instead of a 9:20. There was time (and energy) to just look around and enjoy the scenery, and when my body felt like walking, I let it walk. And when I passed the insanely green, lush grass spreading out before me from the Logan Tabernacle like a scrumptious cloud, I allowed myself to do a cartwheel across it, just because I felt like it.

So although I'll keep my watch (because it's a tool that keeps on pushing me to better and better versions of myself as a runner), I've learned an important lesson:

For the love of running, you really need to run off the clock sometimes too.

Do you time your runs? Or have you always preferred the no-watch method?

Monday, May 19, 2014

5 Things

1. Today was the last Monday of the school year. If that's not worth celebrating, I don't know what is.

2. After over a year of making do with just one vehicle, we are getting another car. Seeing as Matt just started a second part-time job this week, we really couldn't put it off any longer. As of tomorrow, we will be the proud new owners of my grandma's old red Buick, and I'll have to re-learn how to drive an automatic without slamming my left foot down every time I need to brake suddenly.

This could be a bumpy ride.

3. Our apartment is currently a disaster zone where human habitation should probably be banned due to the plethora of moving boxes, half-finished projects, and rotting food (since I haven't had much of a chance--or let's face it, much of a desire--to clean out the fridge in several weeks). And although I realize I probably shouldn't have this reaction, one positive thing I get from all this moving prep is seeing how many boxes we've filled up with books---I think we're already at over 20 boxes, and we still have a bookshelf and a half left to pack :). Life is good when you have more boxes of books than you do of dishes, clothes, and food combined.

4. I got released from my calling as Young Women's President yesterday, and I have mixed feelings of sadness and relief over it. While it does free up a significant amount of time, I will miss it. (And I'm actually a bit bummed to be missing out on all the fun summer activities coming up---the young women are doing a ropes course AND going wakeboarding in the next month, and I'll be missing them both.) I still haven't gotten called to a new position yet, but for now I'll enjoy the respite of meetings-less Sundays and Thursdays that this offers me.

5. Every day when I come home from work, my husband tentatively asks me how work went (tentatively because it seems like I've had various freak-outs over the past month over crazy stuff that's gone down at the school). It's finally gotten to the point where on most days, I simply offer up the most optimistic answer I can muster to prevent myself from complaining for the next hour:

"I'm sure I've had worse teaching days."

And THAT, friends, is why I know EXACTLY how long I have until summer break hits.

Happy Monday, y'all!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Little Weekend Getaway

Last weekend, Matt and I escaped down to Midway and Heber City for a little late anniversary getaway. Way back in December, my mom and stepdad treated us to a gift certificate to The Blue Boar, where we'd spent the first night of our honeymoon. The Blue Boar is a positively charming bed and breakfast that has won multiple awards for their complimentary breakfast/brunch, and we had been dreaming of their five-course meals since we had them for the first time three years ago. My mom told me she bought us the gift certificate right after reading a blog post back in October about how stressed out I felt all the time with school. When she gave it to us (and for awhile after), I think she was worried that when we finally did get away, it wouldn't be as needed because our lives would have slowed down significantly.


For any non-educators out there, teachers are almost always stressed out (or at least ones who teach 7th grade are), especially around midterms and the end of a trimester. We are ESPECIALLY stressed out as we near the end of the school year, as the students have managed to transform themselves into hellians from the underworld itself.

So trust me, Mom, when I say that we NEEDED this.

To work up an appetite for the burgers and shakes we'd be enjoying later at Dairy Keen--a fun local establishment that has a model of the Hogwarts Express running the length of the building--we went on a 3-mile hike through Wasatch State Park. I don't know what it is about getaways, but I usually crave exercise MORE when I'm away from home (which I suppose is a good thing, seeing as we eat out for most meals when we're away).

Later, we soaked in the natural hot springs of Homestead Crater, which is exactly what it sounds like--a pool of hot water inside an ancient crater. Unfortunately, the place is a lot cooler than it sounds because for $16/person (for about a 45-minute soak), I could have just as happily filled up the jetted tub in The Blue Boar and saved ourselves the $32 and the stress of being around a lot of obnoxious people in a tightly enclosed space. Oh well. Now we can say we at least had the experience.

Basically, the getaway was a necessary step back towards sanity as I fight to get through these last few weeks of the school year. (Seriously though, I'm about at the end of my rope, especially after a kid--I have my suspicions as to whom--stole a full-size Snickers bar right off my desk yesterday that I was planning on eating right after school. Seriously folks---do NOT mess with my chocolate. I got much more riled up about it than I probably should have.)

Only 11 more days to go.

I can get through this.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

BTW, We're Moving! + 4 Other Things

1. Because I never formally announced it here, I figure I'll do so now--we're moving! Thanks to a gentle nudge in the right direction from all you lovely readers on my question of whether we should move or not, we will officially be out of our beloved rat hole (aka our first apartment) and moved into a much nicer one at the beginning of next month. We're only moving a couple blocks down (so Matt will still be keeping his new church position), but the difference between the places is like the difference between dust and fresh flowers--one is grimy and gross and hard to love, and the other is airy and bright and perfectly lovely. We are thrilled. (Or at least I am---Matt, for one, positively despises moving and is not looking forward to it with as much anticipation as I am.) I'm also glad for the push this will give me to get rid of the clutter that has managed to accumulate since the end of my organization project last year.

There's nothing like a move that makes you want to throw away everything with reckless abandon, eh?

2. As my students prepared yesterday for their final country swing dance performance, I had two--TWO!--students sent to the hospital with suspected broken limbs. Only one of them ended up actually having a broken bone (the other got away with a sprain), but still! I was sure between angry parents and concerned administrators, our partner dancing operation was going to get shut down in a hurry, but everyone's actually taken it very well, and apparently we're still doing a performance in 3 weeks even though the students seem to be dropping like flies. Huh.

Just a typical Monday in the life of a 7th grade teacher. No big deal.

3. Due to the fact that we haven't been home hardly at all any of the past few weekends, we STILL haven't gotten our garden in order. Not only are our plants not in (or even bought), but two of our three rows are being positively divided and conquered by weeds at the moment. I really wanted to get in some potatoes, onions, and maybe some peas or beans along with the usual haul (tomatoes, corn, peppers, squash), but I'm worried we've waited too long. The average temperature over the past few weeks has been about 50-60 degrees. Can I still plant those crops and expect a decent yield? Anyone know?

4. After perusing through my blog posts from last May (mostly just to see if I was as swamped with items on my to-do list as I am this year), I was reminded of the fact that I perhaps literally cooked about two meals during this entire month last year due to busy-ness. So although I still have over 50 items on my to-to list (I originally had 75 though, so--progress!), I have made it a point to actually make sure I'm keeping up on good health habits, like cooking a few times each week and going running on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. Hence the pictures--last night I made this recipe (a creamy lemon chicken and broccoli dream) and just thought it was too good not to share.

And seriously, if you haven't subscribed to Mel's Kitchen Cafe blog yet, you should---that site is a positive treasure trove that has saved us from another night of $5 pizza too many times to count.

5. You probably didn't notice, but May is the first month in my list of monthly goals that I didn't set any goals related to reading books off my lists. Although I'm still determined to finish at least a book or two in this, the busiest of all months, I have given myself a "break" of sorts from having to choose books off of my recommended reading lists. I can't tell you how lovely it is just to pick up a book and read it simply because it looks interesting. Novel idea, I know. (No pun intended.) You'd think I'd wise up and do that all the time, but the reason I stick with the lists is because I'm pretty much guaranteed a decent read every time, whereas with my own quick judgments, I can sometimes be disappointed.

I'm currently reading The Signature of All Things, the first major fictional work by the same woman who wrote the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love, and I'm rather on the fence about it. Good thing I still have over 200 pages to decide how I feel.

What have you read lately? (Now would be a great time to give me recommendations seeing as I'm not tied to a list of any kind at the mo.)

Have a perfectly lovely day!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Maybe I'm Not Meant to be Organized

I don't know exactly when it happened, but sometime in the last month, our apartment seems to be almost back to the same square it was in before I started my whole 50 Weeks to Organized ordeal.
Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration---it just looks like I'm still in the MIDDLE of my 50 Weeks to Organized project.

Everywhere I look, the clutter has re-amassed itself onto every once-bare surface and my closets are once again having a difficult time staying closed. True, my spare bedroom will (hopefully) never look as ghastly or have as much stuff everywhere as it once did. But still, how on earth have all of these things managed to creep right back up on me again?

Apparently the de-cluttering of a home takes constant vigilance, something that I'm sorely lacking right now seeing as I spend far more time away from my home than in it. (Like work last week---I left the house at 6:30 A.M. and didn't return home until 8 P.M.). I really have tried to keep up with it all--every time I've bought new clothes, I've forced myself to get rid of at least that many things (usually more), and I'm constantly trying to stay on top of all the endless putting away of jackets, purses, movies, and books, but even still----


Curiouser and curiouser.

Sometimes I think I'm not meant to be organized---like maybe there's some hidden beauty and talent in my ability to find what I need in the midst of a mess (and maybe there's a deep, thought-provoking life metaphor in there as well, like I'm capable of finding my purpose even amidst absolute chaos). And while I would love to let myself believe all that hogwash, I would know deep down that I would just be trying to let myself off the hook when it comes to keeping a tidy place, something I've been trying (and failing at) for most of my life. I guess in the end, my struggle with clutter is simply going to be a battle I'll fight my whole life and something that will likely never come naturally to me.

Sometimes I envy people who can always keep their houses and lives in simplistic and perfect order, but then I have to remind myself that I probably have talents that they don't, like having a desire to read literally all the time or having the ability to inhale inhuman amounts of chocolate in one sitting (and then have the motivation to go run it all off so I won't feel guilty at all for it).

In other words, we all have our thing. My thing just happens to not be easily keeping a clean house.

I'm hoping that moving to a nicer place will help a little---maybe if my apartment actually looks nice to start out with, I'll be more tempted to keep it that way instead of how it is now, which is that no matter how clean the place is, it still looks ghetto.

You never know. It might work.

Anyone else have "keeping a clean house" as one of their major uphill battles in life?

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

What I've Learned in 3 Years of Marriage

Happy 3rd anniversary to us! Exactly three years ago, on May 7, 2011, we tied the knot in a beautiful ceremony surrounded by close family and friends.

In honor of the day, I bring to you some of the various tidbits I've learned about marriage over the past three years:

1. Marriage is a lot easier than I thought it'd be. Now this one might not hold true for everybody, but I was pretty terrified of getting married when I was younger, and because everyone always talked about how hard it was all the time, I assumed it would be pretty awful and hard and the kind of thing you just had to grit your teeth through a lot. (I wasn't exactly a ray of sunshine when I was younger, k?) But marriage has been incredibly fulfilling and has made me happier than any other decision I've ever made.

2. Just come out and say what you want or need. Communication has never been my strong point since I usually will do anything to avoid contention and I have a hard time just coming out and asking for something to be done, but 3 years of marriage have taught me that it's better just to speak up so we can be on the same page instead of hinting at things and hoping he'll catch onto my hints. So now when I say, "I don't really care," I actually mean it.

3. Encourage each other in your individual pursuits. For the first few newlywed months of marriage, we basically had to do everything together, and I felt like we weren't progressing as much as we could be. Now we both try to encourage each other in individual hobbies and interests because it allows us personal growth as well as a reason to cheer each other on.

4. When your spouse says something bugs him, actually try to fix it. I now pretty much always clear my hair out of the shower, and I am at least attempting to rinse dishes to his crazy-high standards. Even though the little things are just that---little---a lot of them together can add up to a mountain of annoyance, so it's better to just work on changing (especially because it usually makes you a better person).

 On our one-year anniversary

5. Fight fair. My  husband and I are lucky enough to see most things eye to eye, but when we disagree, I've learned that it's really important to fight fair. Because I hate conflict, I've done some pretty messed up things when we disagreed (like disappearing for a few hours without telling him where I was going or being a little passive-aggressive). Although I think I'll always need to work on my communication skills, I know for a fact that I'm tons better than I used to be---I usually am much more forthright now about my reasons for disagreeing, and I let him know when he's hurting my feelings (instead of just holding it in).

6. Don't let yourself fall into the rut of routine too much. Like I said in this post, it's so important to try out new things together because it lets you see each other in a new light, and it helps continually infuse romance and novelty into the relationship. And even though Hollywood doesn't always sell us this idea, you actually DO need to work to keep the romance alive.

7. Spend time with other couples and carve out time for other friendships. Although I'm content to spend the majority of my time with Matt, it's important that we both keep up friendships with other people. As unromantic as it might sound, it's pretty impossible for one person to fulfill all our emotional and social needs, so it's important to keep up friendships with other people. (One thing we do to help with this is to have friends over for games most Sunday nights and to try to do some double dates about every other month).

On our second anniversary 

8. State your expectations. Almost the entirety of our frustration comes from expectations that aren't being met, and so it's incredibly important that your spouse knows completely what your expectations are when it comes to things like spending time with both your families, managing finances, work/life balance, etc. Sometimes you'll have to adjust your expectations, but you can't be frustrated or mad with your spouse for not having met your expectation when they don't even know what it is.

9. Take time to unplug. It's important for me to get some one-on-one meaningful conversation time each day, and for that to happen, we need to not be engaged in attention-sucking things like watching t.v., playing computer games, surfing blogs, or checking social media. Lately, I've drastically cut down on my time spent in front of a screen, and I've made sure we don't eat every meal in front of the t.v., and I find that it's really helping us feel closer (not to mention helping me keep my sanity, as it's often the only interaction I have each day with another adult). 

10. Look for daily ways to show your love. You should be having far more positive interactions in your marriage than negatives ones, which requires effort on the part of both spouses. Make sure you are daily serving your spouse, verbally and physically showing your affection, and expressing gratitude for all they do for you. Even though we've been married for 3 years, Matt still thanks me for every meal I cook and I still thank him every time he does the dishes. Sure, one could argue that these types of things are just part of the duties that come with being a responsible adult. But you know what? It's nice when you're appreciated for actually having completed that duty.

Here's to an eternity of happy years together----I love you, Matt!

What are some of the lessons you've learned from marriage?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May Goals

Since creating my massive to-do list at work for the month, I'm beginning to wonder if I should set goals at all for this month. But in keeping with my new year's resolution to set mini goals to help me reach the items on my life's bucket list and to become a better homemaker, I guess I'd better give it a shot anyway.

But here's a recap on how April went---

April Goals 

*Visit a new national park in Utah. We checked out the Golden Spike Monument when we had a bit of free time one afternoon, which only solidified my resolve to get outside of our usual dinner-and-movie bubble on our dates.

*Read 1 Kings and 2 Kings in the Old Testament. 

*Run a half-marathon. I may not have met my bucket list goal of running a half in under two hours, but this last half taught me that there's definitely hope!

*Lose 5 pounds. At a loss of just over a pound a week, I was able to meet this goal right before my half-marathon. My secret that's not a secret? Logging all my calories onto My Fitness Pal and keeping up my training regimen for the half.

*Learn a new piece from my Piano Classics book.

*Read two books from my lists, at least one of which needs to come off my "100 Most-Recommended Classics" list. Done and done. I read Cry, the Beloved Country (which I'll be reviewing shortly), and loved it. I feel like I'm getting my reading mojo back finally!

*Homemaking Goal: Try out 4 new recipes this month, two of which are more "adventurous." This is the only one I didn't make, which is ironic considering it's the one I was the most excited about. I did make two new recipes, but they were "safe" recipes, not anything adventurous. I'm hoping to re-try this one in the summer once I have more time.

With this month looking a bit like a nightmare, I'm not going to go too hard on myself. As much as I love crossing off long lists of reached goals, there's nothing I hate more than a long list of goals left undone. So here are my goals for May:

May Goals

*Do two photo sessions to build up my photography repertoire and further develop my skills.

*Plan out when we'll cross off my bucket list item of volunteering at an animal shelter. (I'm hoping to get this one crossed off during the summer.)

*Check out summer photography class options. If possible, sign up.

*Read I Chronicles in the Old Testament.

*Homemaking Goal: Get rid of 100 things to further de-clutter our life. I've let a lot of clutter back into my life since my 50 Weeks to Organized project ended in December, and I really need to get back on the wagon.

All right, that seems do-able, even with 68 items left on my to-do list that all need to be completed by May 30th.


Monday, May 5, 2014

One of the Greats

Yesterday my husband got put into the bishopric of our ward as the second counselor.

A quick little bit of background for you---in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (more commonly referred to as the LDS or "Mormon" church), members are called to serve in various capacities in the congregations to which they pertain. All callings are voluntary and unpaid, and no one self-elects himself (or herself) to any calling---it is all done under the authority of the leadership of the church. Although our church callings and responsibilities are a huge part of our lives, I haven't taken much time to write about them on here, but I just want to make it clear that we take these church responsibilities very seriously.

Basically, a "bishopric" is a group of 3 men that, in effect, preside or watch over a congregation. The bishop is at the head of the congregation (hereafter called "ward") and he has two counselors to help him in his many duties.

To make a long explanation shorter, it's basically a pretty big responsibility -- a Big Deal, if you will. And not only that, it's highly unusual for someone as young as my husband (27) to get called to such a calling.

When we first got the news, we were a little shocked, and when we started to let our families know, we didn't really know how to respond to the "Congratulations" he got (since it's not really an honor or achievement you ever aspire to---it's just something that happens). Basically, we've kind of been going around in a daze wondering how on earth this is going to affect the next little part of our lives.

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you might remember my "Bloom Where You're Planted" post, in which I confessed how sad I was over Matt not getting into a PT school this first year of applying and in which I sent out the hope that there's likely a greater purpose in our staying here another year than in leaving right away for grad school somewhere else.

I think this calling might be part of that greater purpose.

For the past two years, I have served as the president of the Young Women's Organization in my ward, a calling that has required a LOT of growth and increased faith from me. Throughout these two years, I've often felt inadequate, but I also KNOW that the calling was divinely inspired, as it helped push me towards skills I needed to develop (like how to do family history and genealogy) and people I needed to meet. I know that Matt's calling will do the same for him. And with my husband's new calling, I will be released from my calling as president very soon and called to something else, and thus marches forth the next phase of our personal and marital progression.

A concept I became very familiar with while on my mission in El Salvador was that as soon as you get comfortable with something, that's usually the time that a drastic change comes along. As human beings constantly seeking for comfort and ease, it would be altogether entirely too tempting for us (if we were completely running the show of our lives) to just have everything remain the same most of the time.

But the thing I love about serving in my church is that as soon as I get comfortable doing something (finally), that's almost always the time I'm called to do something else. And in that way, I am basically guaranteed to constantly be growing personally, meeting and serving new people, and developing different skill sets. It's a marvelous system really, if not always a comfortable one.

My husband will do a wonderful job with his calling--he is a humble man that knows how to seek out guidance through prayer and ask questions of both the Lord and others, and he has a deep capacity for service and love and sensitivity that is rarely seen in the world nowadays. Like today, he woke up early with me and packed my lunch, and since the only thing we had for me to take was a leftover burger from our barbecue yesterday, he proceeded to devise the most ingenious way of making sure my hamburger had all the fixings and didn't get soggy--he packed the bun and patty separately, and then he proceeded to put perfect quantities of ketchup and mustard into little baggies, where he pushed the condiments into the corners so I could pipe them out like frosting. And then of course, he didn't forget to pack the pickles too in their own separate bag. It seems like such a little thing, but it's always meant a lot to me that my husband is always willing to go the extra mile as he serves and loves others, which is why I'm excited to see how he'll be magnified even further to serve in this new capacity.

Sorry for the rambling nature of this post, but I just wanted the record to show that I'm proud of my husband and of the good man he is---he truly is one of the greats.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Life in Numbers This Week

Number of Field Trips I've Gone on Since Monday: 2 (which is WAY too many for just 4 short days)
Minutes Spent on a Chaotic Middle-School Bus This Week: 91 (*shudder*)
Number of Items on my To-Do List at Work: 75 (all of which need to be completed before the end of the school year)
Number of Items I Need to Get Done Each Work Day on Average: 3.67
Average Amount of Time Each To-Do List Item Will Take: one hour
Average Time it Appears I'll Be Getting Home Every Night: 6:45 P.M.
Average # of Hours I'll Be Working Each Week Until May 30: 58
Total Number of Days Left Until the End of the School Year: 29
Total Number of Work Days Left Until I'm Officially on Summer Vacation: 20
Number of Days Since My Husband Officially Started His Summer Vacation: 2 (how awful it is to have him start his summer holidays a whole month before I do!)
Number of Personal Goals I'm Likely to Meet in May Due to Said Workload: 0 (maybe one)

(Please admire the garbage cans in the background)

Number of Books I've Finished in the Last 48 Hours: 3 (if you count II Kings in the Bible as a book, which I am)
Amount of Sleep I Got Last Night: about 5 many-times-interrupted hours, due to our neighbors having an argument-of-all-arguments until about 4 in the morning at the top of their lungs
Amount of Unoccupied Time I will have Between Now & Sunday Night: 3 hours total, if I'm lucky
Number of Cookies I Had This Morning for Breakfast: 2 (I couldn't handle one more instant oatmeal pouch!)
Total Number of Miles Run Since the Half Marathon last Saturday: 3.08 (hopefully I can still squeeze in a run this Saturday though)
Number of Big News Items I Have Yet to Post On: 3
Time You'll Have to Wait Until Hearing of Said News Items: probably about 5-6 days
On a Scale of 1-10, the Level of Annoyance You Feel When People Tell You they have Something to Tell You and then Don't Tell You: 7.9

And that's a wrap, folks! Hope your month of May is looking less stressful than mine...

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