Wednesday, November 25, 2009

One Day Isn't Enough

I hope you agree with me when I say that one day to give thanks just isn't enough. If I began listing what I was thankful for the moment I woke up, I couldn't possibly be finished by the end of the day. I do my best to be thankful on a daily basis to the people in my life, and of course to God, for all of the things I honestly don't deserve. But I know I never cover it all. Despite that, I do absolutely love that our culture dedicates a day to being Thankful and spending time (and an amazing meal!) with the people who mean the most to us. I also love the history of Thanksgiving and how it began with a few adventurous souls who traveled to a new world and shared a meal in thanks with some complete strangers. I also think it's rather special that that tradition continues so many years later.

So even though I know there's no way to cover it all, I'll go ahead and share a few things I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving (in no particular order)...
  • The cutest husband ever
  • The best family and friends I could ask for
  • Little baby Beck, and the fact that we'll know in just a week if our baby is a boy or girl!
  • Being preggers with my sister (and so many of my friends) so I have people to go through it with and our baby will have so many friends from day one :]
  • All the other additions to our family and my friends families
  • Our cozy home - even if it is still a work in progress
  • My dad, who is still here after suffering a stroke and spending last Thanksgiving on the floor of his apartment
  • Our jobs, even though I complain about mine
  • Baby Stellan's miraculous recovery
  • The whole holiday season and everything that goes with it -- family, food, shopping, days off work...
  • Our health
  • Mistletoe-scented candles
  • The chinese place behind our house (I'm rather hungry)
... and while it doesn't stop there, my chinese food is sitting right in front of me, staring me in the face. I have to go.

I know none of my friends would ever forget to do this, but I will just throw it out there... think about what you're thankful for! I hope you have a great Thanksgiving day and enjoy lots of great food with your families :]

Friday, November 20, 2009

Highlighter Day

What on earth is highlighter day, you ask?? Well it was one of our spirit days during Spirit week at my school for homecoming this year. What this involves is dressing up in "higlighter" colors, aka - neon. Yes, the stuff we wore in the late 80s/early 90s and thought we were awesome. My students are wearing it all again. It's still just as unattractive as it was then, and yes they think they are as awesome as we thought we were. Oh yikes. Some trends you just don't expect to ever resurface. The leggings under your dress, understandable. In fact that one is rather practical. But neon? Gosh was there nothing else from 20 years ago that could be considered cool again? Slap bracelets? Jelly shoes? Acid-wash everything?

Ok, so what does that have to do with anything? Nothing really. This post is just going to consist of some highlights since I don't have much time to write a full description of it all. Haha. Some introduction, right? I think this post is also setting a record for questions asked by the author. Moving on....

  • Busy weekend! Papers to grade, papers to write for grad school (yes, plural), wedding Saturday night, relaxation? We'll see.
  • Even busier Monday-Tuesday. It's parent/teacher conferences and what do you get for teaching 1) all 9th graders, 2) all GT & Honors? The answer is 39 conferences in two days, every possible conference time-slot filled from 11:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. in fifteen minute increments. THEN, additional parents who weren't quick enough to snatch up one of the available conference slots emailing and calling to schedule their conferences for some other time.
  • Icantbelievethisweekisthanksgiving!!!!!!! There are 3 school weeks between Thanksgiving break and Christmas break. My Christmas tree will be up on Wednesday 8-O How does it sneak up on me like this every year? You'd think I would see it coming by now.
  • I may have secured a substitute for my maternity leave! I am sort of talking to two very reliable subs who work exclusively at our school. One is doing a long-term job for a guy in our department right now, the other is the son of a teacher in our department as well as one of the soccer coaches. He came to me today and said he heard I might be needing a sub in the future (haha, understatement) and that he'd be interested in covering my leave - hooray! I'm excited.
  • Two weeks from today we have our sonogram to find out if we're having a baby boy or girl! I am beyond excited for this event :]
  • Although I took a good hour and a half nap this afternoon, I'm going to bed just an hour later than usual, and probably sleeping in too!
Ok friends, that is all. I will try to post a picture from the wedding we're going to tomorrow. I look quite pregnant in the dress I'm wearing (kindly donated by my sister). Strangely, I feel a little self-conscious about everyone noticing my belly. I suppose it comes from a lifetime of trying to hide it! Plus it's one of those things that everyone is going to pay attention to and talk about and I'm just not all about that kind of attention. Fortunately, this is not a wedding where my whole family will be there or anything. It's a friend of our family, so my family and their family and a few friends will be the only ones who know me and might say something.

Anyway, sleepy time. I'm so excited :] Goodnight!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Oh baby!

Ready for a blog post full of nothing but baby news and info???

Well, I'll give you a little warning: it's not all news about our baby. But still, babies are fun either way, right?

To begin with, I got to go and meet Mary Beth's new bundle of joy, Nicholas Anthony! He is quite a bundle at 9lbs, 10oz and cute cute cute to match. I went to visit them on Friday night. MB shared her whole story with me, which unfortunately was not a great experience for her. I'll spare you all the details, but suffice it to say that the poor girl was induced before 6am, labored all day long without progressing past 3 cm, and finally at 11 that night her doctor decided to do a c-section. Her family had gone home, her poor husband couldn't take the O.R. scene and had to step out, so she was by herself. They told her they'd have the baby out in 5 minutes and 15 minutes later they were still struggling to get his head out. This is what happens when you're itty bitty to start with and your evil/stupid doctor allows your 8lb baby to go a week and a half past his due date. Oh. My. Goodness. She was so disappointed in the process and I felt really bad for her. Fortunately, Mr. Nicholas makes the whole ordeal more than worthwhile. Want to see him? Here him is......

Isn't he incredibly handsome?? :] I'm in love.

In other baby news, we are 18 weeks now and my whole work knows. Everyone has taken it very well. I talked to the counseling department today and they said they had wondered but didn't want to ask! I thought that was funny, and it makes me wonder who else was wondering! I've had a few moments where I've felt like students were talking/whispering during class but I'm not sure. I suppose I'll let them know maybe on Friday. Parents will probably want to know in advance that their kids will be finishing the school year with a substitute (hehehe), and to be honest, I need to start wearing maternity clothes. The regular work clothes are not cutting it. So I guess that's kind of fun depending on who you are :] I suppose at 18 weeks I should have been expecting it. After all in 2 weeks we'll be half-way through the pregnancy! I can hardly believe it. It feels like I've known for a long time, but it definitely feels like ever since the 2nd trimester began the weeks have been floating by. In fact, just two weeks from this Friday is our 20-week sonogram where we will find out if baby Beck is a boy or girl! We're very excited about that milestone :]

One more piece of baby news... well, ok it's not quiet "baby" news, but cutest little kid ever news. Since I'm positive my sister won't be blogging about this I will share the hilarity here. Leo decided the other day that he wanted to change his name. The conversation with his mother went like this...

Leo: Mommy, I want to change my name.
Amberly: To what, Kramer?
Leo: Yes!

Amberly's suggestion of Kramer was purely because she thought it was so crazy that he would never go for it. Sure enough he not only liked it, but he LOVED it. And he began getting very angry if his "new name" was not used. He even had a meltdown on the phone with his dad (who was at work) because Chris wouldn't say "goodnight Kramer" to tell him goodnight. How hysterical is that?!? This is precisely why I am obsessed (as my friends have told me) with Leo. He really, honestly, truly is the funniest kid I have ever met. And if you know my employment history, I've met A LOT of kids.

Ok, how about 3 positive events?
  1. I went bowling for the first time in probably 10+ years this weekend with Josh and Jennie and Michael. We had a lot of fun. I came in last place with 75 points :]
  2. The holidays are upon us! Thanksgiving next week?! Whew. Christmas 3 weeks later (3 work weeks before Christmas break that is. You see how I measure my time). I'm exicted!
  3. After 4 long years, I have a mere 5 months left of teaching!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hooray Hooray!

My childhood best friend, Mary Beth, finally delivered her baby boy at 1:08 this morning! Nicholas Anthony was a week and a half overdue (due Nov. 1) and entered the world at a whopping 9lbs, 10oz!!! He was 21.2 inches long as well. That is a BIG boy. He's very handsome according to the cell phone picture I was sent :] The craziest thing about him being such a big baby is that both Mary Beth and her husband Joe are pretty small people. Mary Beth is about 5'1", maybe 5'2" and somewhere around 110 lbs after a heavy meal. Joe is probably 5'6" or 5'7" at most. I'm doubting this little guy will end up being a big kid or big adult. I think he was just left in the oven a little too long! Either way, he's here and healthy and that's something we can all say "amen" to!

In some personal baby news, I told my principal today that I'm expecting. I was worried that he'd react with frustration because we have a number of other staff members who have recently shared that they are expecting in the spring and I suspect I may be one of the earlier due dates. I just didn't want him to be annoyed that so many people were going to be out at the end of the school year and I had waited this long to mention it. So tomorrow I'm going to make an attempt to tell my department. I slipped a little today and said something about being hungry all the time. So the one other woman at the table says, "Hungry all the time... you must be pregnant." My eyes got big, I stuttered a little, but then I made up some excuse about having myself on a schedule of eating a snack when I get home from work, so by the end of the school day I'm always hungry. Ugh. So tomorrow when I have to say, "actually yea I'm pregnant," I'm sure that will come up. Oh joy.

I'll let ya know how it goes!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Circle of Life

Simba meets the world for the first time
(Circle of Life by Sir Elton John plays)

Silliness aside, the past two weeks have been a real illustration of the "circle of life" for me. It began on Monday last week. I went down to the counseling office at school at the beginning of third period for my internship and when I arrived I found out that my mentor was going to be out all week due to the death of her sister. What a tough thing. I wished I had known her sister was even sick. Not that she would have wanted to talk about it all the time or that I would have done anything different. The very next day when I arrived at the counseling office I walked in to find the county crisis team. A student who had been battling cancer for a few years had passed away that morning. Wow. This child was only in 10th grade. I couldn't imagine what his family was going through. The hardest part for me was seeing his friends on the wrestling team, teenage boys yet children at the same time, sitting there crying at the news. I really questioned my ability to be a good counselor in situations like that. I was barely holding it together as it was, and I had never even met this student. In addition to these stories, baby Stellan was back in the hospital and not getting any better.

Just when it seemed like bad news was all around, the weekend came. Jenna, my mom and I threw a great baby shower for my sister and got to focus on the new life that is about to join our family. We had so much fun surrounded by all the cutsie baby girl stuff! Then just yesterday I read on MckMama's blog that although Stellan had to fly to Boston for another heart surgery even sooner than they had expected, by an amazing act of God, the surgery was a complete success! After suffering from SVT since before birth, Stellan was SVT-free and likely to stay that way. What a wonderful miracle. Could there be any clearer a sign of God's power and love? This child, whose case has baffled doctors for over a year, is healed when an assisting doctor suggests going through the aorta to access the part of the heart they've been desperately trying to fix. You can only give that glory to God. Read more here. And if Stellan's story isn't enough excitement (which, believe me, it is), my best friend since 7th grade, Mary Beth is going into the hospital in the morning to deliver her first baby! Poor thing is being induced since she's a week and a half overdue, but hanging in there like a champ. She and her husband are going to be parents tomorrow! And that makes me an aunt! (again!) So just as last week saw lives leave us here on earth, this week God is giving us new life left and right. What could be more exciting?

So that has been my "circle of life" experience the past two weeks. It has given me a lot to think about and to be grateful for. Young, old, rich, poor, you name it... the truth is we have no guarantees when it comes to our lives here on earth, except that God is good and those that believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. It's true. He promised :]

I am going to let this post stand alone as my positive events log for today. I can't think of anything more positive than what I've already said!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Spoken Like a True Professional

Well, I've got to say I was surprised to return to my blog page today to see THREE comments on my last post! This is just amazing to me. What dedicated fans I have :] So I'm now more than inspired to share this post today. I actually compose blog posts constantly throughout my days. It's almost the same as seeing the world through my camera lens. Everything I look at I see as a picture and consider what I'd like to edit in or out or where that picture would look good hanging, or maybe it would be in a travel magazine or something. I do the same thing with blog posts. Whenever I'm going through my day I often take different happenings and begin describing them in my head as if I were typing a blog post. Sometimes they get downright elaborate, but the trouble becomes sitting down and typing them.

Alas, here I am today. Typing this very post. The main theme is my professional life. There are a few different "professional" stories, but I'm combining them into one joyous [hopefully not boring] post... just for you! I think I'm going to set it up like chapters in a book. I'm just in a good mood today, you'll understand by the time you read the last professional story, which actually isn't a story, but you'll see. Here we go...

Chapter 1 - Double Duty
Since I am both a teacher and a counseling intern in my school I am getting some different perspectives on many of the daily school happenings. It's amazing how differently various professionals within the school view and handle routine situations. For example, I was in a meeting not long ago where the topic of discussion was students who seem to be on the path to excessive absences. In this meeting were counselors, administrators, the school nurse, and a few others. It became very clear to me in no time that the administrators saw nothing but numbers when they looked at the data while the counselors were trying to discuss people. Don't get me wrong, attendance is a matter of numbers and our attendance percentages reflect on our school and central office has certain things to say when your attendance numbers are not up to the acceptable level. Fine. However, from the counseling [and teaching] perspective, it's very helpful to discuss the individuals and their circumstances to understand what is going on with the attendance, no? Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Aside from this story, I'm also finding myself stuck in between the teachers I work with and the counselors I work with. Somehow the teachers have the impression that everyone in the counseling office spends the day sitting around talking and eating lunch. I know this because they state it blatantly in front of me. This is the social studies department I'm referring to, whom I eat lunch with every day. They know I'm doing an internship in the counseling office and that I'd like to be a counselor at some point. Yet they will talk about specific counselors by name right in front of me. They make fun of anything that the counseling department puts together for the students and say how awful it was and all the ways it should have been done better. I just find it so inconsiderate. And yet, you're the smart ones? Don't you realize you're talking about someone in front of their face -- or at least talking about someone's coworkers? Hell, they're your coworkers too! It's just a very obvious and sad disconnect I see in our school building. I sincerely hope it's not like this everywhere. We're told repeatedly in our JHU program that it's going to be a struggle to make our role clear because counselors have been viewed a certain way for a very long time. After I spoke up once to my department members, since they talk about the counselors almost daily, about the counselors taking time to eat lunch [it didn't go well] I decided that while I have to be part of both departments I'm not willing to argue with them over it. So I just keep my mouth shut. Probably not what Jesus would do, but He's way better than me at everything anyway.

Chapter 2 - Lunchtime Irony
This is another lunchtime story about my beloved social studies department members. I really do enjoy them and love the fact that we eat lunch together every day. However, sometimes the teacher in them makes me laugh [on the inside, of course]. Today the discussion was typical - students. One teacher was on a rant about a fundraiser packet that was distributed to juniors and seniors yesterday and how her students seemed uninterested in participating. That turned into how there are so many students in our school that just don't participate in anything and don't seem to care, have a sense of community, etc. It was also mentioned that about 10% of our students are the ones who participate in everything. They play all the sports, band, musicals, fundraising, volunteer work, community events, and so on. How interesting, I thought. This likely foreshadows what these students will be doing in 10, 20, 30 years as members of the community. The same 10% will be doing everything while the other 90% do nothing and don't care. Yet the 90% will still benefit from the fundraising, see the plays and sports events, and all the rest. The irony to me is that if asked about society, these same teachers would say that the 10% who "do everything" are evil, selfish, and owe it to the 90%. They are the ones who are capable, why shouldn't they do what they do and be generous enough to share? This isn't the first time I've heard them make remarks and have discussions like this that would absolutely contradict their societal views. I personally see the school as a small-scale society and what you see happening here is what you'll get in 20 years. Mark my word.

Chapter 3 - A True Professional
Tomorrow is a professional day. I can't tell you how exciting this is for me. Since pre-service week this is our first professional day. We always have one around the end of the marking period so teachers can get all of their grading done and do report cards. The big deal about these professional days to me is that they are the only times when I feel like a real professional. I get to wake up around 7 instead of sometime prior to 6. I leave the house when the sun is up, let's say 7:45 tomorrow. I'm dressed however I feel like dressing [understood that this isn't the case in all workplaces, but it is part of my professional day] and I get to stop for a cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich on my way in. Once at work I greet some co-workers, check some email, and then work productively at my quiet desk in my quiet office/classroom for the rest of the day. If I'm hungry, I eat. If I need to pee, I get up and go. This is a magical day! It is so unlike my regular work day it's unreal. And yet most working people would say, "what's so special about that?" These professional days, when I get to live like a real professional, make me wonder from the bottom of my heart why I didn't pick a career in which I'd get to live like this every day. Ah, the choices we make. Eighteen, or even 22, is way too young to decide what you want to spend the rest of your life doing. Plain and simple.

Ok, well I feel like this is a very boring post. And it's also quite long. Now I'm contradicting myself when I said that I don't have time to write long posts. Blerg. If tomorrow weren't a "get actual work done" day, then I would probably be grading papers right now. Instead I think I'll search for a fall blog background.

Positive Events:
  1. Professional day tomorrow - heck yea :]
  2. Our tv is now calibrated and we get to have a major movie event tomorrow night with Jennie and Michael
  3. My close and dear childhood friend, Mary Beth who was due to deliver her very first baby on Sunday has still not gone into labor but her doctor finally scheduled her for an induction next Wednesday if baby boy doesn't arrive before then. So I'm going to be an aunt again by next Wednesday!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

For Am-EE

This post is coming to you by request from my friend Am-EE. As you may have noticed -- if you still attempt to read my all-but-nonexistent blog -- that I haven't posted in a good while. This is a result of the usual. Somehow I thought I'd have more time this school year but I really don't. My actual school day is much more busy, but I'm also pretty busy at home. Since my planning time is dedicated to my internship and therefore spent in the counseling office at school, my planning activities (i.e. grading, planning, etc) must be done at home. I've done a pretty good job of not having to spend all evening every evening on these things. However, Mondays I spend traveling to my dad's and helping him out with anything he needs. And Wednesdays I have class until 6:30pm. So those two days are mostly a wash. Anything else that needs to happen during the week takes place on Tuesday or Thursday and then we end up having weekend plans most of the time.

So that's kind of the nutshell version of what I've been up to. Am-EE sent an email to say "hey what's up" and asked when I was going to update my blog. This gave me inspiration knowing that there were still people (or maybe just person) out there who check my blog!

I told her I would try to be better about updating a few times a week even if they were small updates. I know I've said this before, but I am going to try for realz. I blame Facebook a little because it's so much easier to update that writing a blog post. There's also much more room to write in detail on a blog post than on Facebook, but again, time is the bigger issue for me.

Here are some positive events while I'm here:
  1. We're expecting! Most of you know this, but how can I not mention it as a positive event?
  2. I'm also waiting for one of my best friends to deliver her baby boy who is due TODAY!
  3. We're watching our first Ravens game on our new 50" plasma tv today! Let's go boys :]